The Spectacle Blog

Levin On Boehner: Rove, Jeb Wrong Again

By on 9.19.13 | 12:36PM

Last night Mark Levin delivered a jewel of a monologue on the decision by Speaker John Boehner and the House GOP leadership to support defunding ObamaCare. Here’s the link.

Mark is blunt about the disaster that has become ObamaCare. He’s also blunt about the House GOP leadership. Blunt, pleased – but understandably cautious.

“Finally they get it,” he says. The “French Republicans” have come round to supporting the defunding of ObamaCare. Not because they wanted to, but because the grassroots—the Tea Party and others—forced them into it.

We have discussed this issue several times in this space, most recently here in a piece titled "House GOP: Reagans or Fords?"

Within hours of this column's publication, the point was made again by two people. The first, here, was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is quoted in the Daily Caller thusly:

Asked if the fight to defund Obamacare was worth risking a government shutdown while appearing at an event on education with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Bush said the law was bad, but Republicans should be practical.

"I’d just add a little dose of reality. If you control one-half of one-third of the leverage in Washington, D.C., your ability to influence things are also relative to the fact that you have one-half of one-third of the government. It’s a reality. This isn’t a hypothetical,” Bush said.

So as we get closer to these deadlines, there needs to be an understanding of that, or, politically, it’s quite dicey for the Republican Party,” Bush added.

And then this morning comes Karl Rove over in the Wall Street Journal, his column headed this way:

The GOP's Self-Defeating 'Defunding' Strategy

It will only strengthen the president while alienating independents.

Writes Mr. Rove:

In 2010, Republicans took the House of Representatives by gaining 63 seats. They also picked up six U.S. senators and 675 state legislators, giving them control of more legislative chambers than any time since 1928. The GOP also won 25 of 40 gubernatorial races in 2009 and 2010.

These epic gains happened primarily because independents voted Republican. In 2010, 56% of independents voted for GOP congressional candidates, up from 43% in 2008 and 39% in 2006.

Read those stats carefully and ask: What was different in 2010 when the GOP won 56 percent of independents, and in 2008 and 2006 when the GOP won 43 percent and 39 percent respectively?

Answer: In 2010 the GOP – with the Tea Party playing a considerable role – drew stark differences between themselves and liberals. The election was a blowout for the GOP. But in 2008 and 2006? In both cases moderates were in control – and the GOP got clobbered.

The Jeb Bush and Karl Rove approach is the Gerald Ford/Bush approach. Blur the differences between Republicans and Democrats, try and move the right to the center.

And every time this is tried, it's a loser.

This is the direct opposite of Reagan’s “bold colors” approach. Reagan always believed in drawing a stark line between the two parties. If necessary, knowing a loss lay ahead as with Reagan’s understanding that his veto of the 1987 pork laden Clean Water bill would be overridden, do it anyway. The GOP must, said Reagan, “stand together [in supporting his veto] so that even with the Dems outvoting us we can point out to the people how different the Dems & Repubs are.”

This is the core difference between Reagan and moderate Republicans. And history now tells us that Reagan was right. Karl Rove, the Bushes, and Gerald Ford followed the path of trying to move the GOP to the center. Politically speaking they all failed utterly. Ford lost his election to Jimmy Carter. President Bush 41 – after campaigning as Reagan’s heir – broke his no new taxes pledge (supposedly a sure-fire way to win over independents) and won only 37 percent of the vote for re-election. President Bush 43, advised by Karl Rove, went the “compassionate conservative” route and needed the Supreme Court to put him over the top. He later won his 2004 re-election by the skin of his teeth – 100,000 or so votes in Ohio over John Kerry. John Kerry!

So once again, Messrs. Jeb Bush and Karl Rove are advocating a defeatist, losing strategy – this time over defunding ObamaCare. Moving the right to the center loses independents, as Rove’s own stats illustrate. Reagan was correct: Move the center to the right.

Speaker Boehner and the House GOP leadership seem to have come around. Some heat has provided light.

Good thing. Not a moment too soon.

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