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Craig Shirley, Reagan biographer, businessman, author, ponders the state of the GOP.
It’s the conservatism, stupid.
And PS: the Republican Party has become not a Party of Principle but a Party of Rackets.
That wasn’t exactly what Reagan biographer Craig Shirley said to me when I asked him to give me some post-election thoughts on the state of the Republican Party after the 2012 election. But pretty close.
Why does his stark, no-holds barred review of the GOP matter?
Craig is not only a successful businessman (he is the Shirley of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs in which he partners with Diana Banister).
He is also the highly successful author of two bestselling books on Reagan: Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All and Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America. And yes, he is at work on another two — plus a book on Newt Gingrich.
As might be expected following a major presidential defeat — a defeat many thought should never have happened in 2012 — the GOP is going through the inevitable soul searching. Included in this reappraisal by Craig is a hard look at the Republican National Committee (Craig has been mentioned as a potential challenger to current RNC Chair Reince Priebus — a subject he addresses below) and subjects as varied as the media, immigration, the Reagan/Bush difference and something that was addressed in this space last week — the increasingly hotly controversial role of consultants in the GOP.
Craig pulled no punches in our conversation — so forthwith my questions and Craig’s answers.
Jeff Lord: You have expressed your concern about potential corruption within the Republican Party structure itself. Can you be specific here? What would the blue ribbon commission you suggest be looking for? And how would they fix what they find if this problem centers on consultants?
Craig Shirley: There have been more and more investigative stories detailing excessive amounts of monies, dummy corporations, interlocking directorates, crony consultants and the such that suggest potentially massive problems in and around the Republican Party. There is not just smoke anymore but fire as well. The Blue Ribbon Commission would have to be headed by men and women of unshakeable principles and ethics, who know the business and who know how to probe the RNC, the contractors and vendors and are not afraid of the truth. They would have full autonomy and I would also give them the authority to tell all outside consultants if they do not co-operate, they will face a multi-year ban on any party contracting.
A report would be generated and released publicly. Names would be named. The party will never get ahead of its problems and the rumors and stories of corruption without a thorough air clearing.
All bids for RNC contracts should be competitive and determined by revolving members of the national committee. All contracts would be transparent. All hidden agendas disclosed. All contracts should be terminated based on moral, professional, and ethical turpitude. The party has to begin to set an example. A management committee to oversee the books and money in and out, made up of revolving members of the national committee, ought to be created.
Eric Hoffer once said all great causes evolved into businesses and eventually descend into a racket. The Republican Party appears to many to be a racket with no organizing philosophy except bashing Obama for the cynical purposes of raising money.
During the Reagan years, the joke going around the White House was, “How many people work at the RNC? Oh, about half of them.”
JL: You have broached the idea of the RNC becoming “the guardian of Federalism” — both by preaching it and, importantly, practicing this idea as a national committee. Can you explain?
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