GOP consultant Mike Murphy has responded to my column from yesterday, “The Quisling Consultants.” He is not happy with me, to say the least. In fairness, his response is re-printed here in its entirety, with my response below that.
Saw your screed in the AmSpec.
I deeply resent the Nazi angle. A lazy, cheap shot of the worst kind.
I have not worked at Navigators for two years. They list me on web site as a strategic partner because we have a deal where they refer potential issue advertising clients to my real firm the Revolution agency. I never worked on any of the NPR stuff, never took a dime for any of it. Your should try at least a little fact checking before you reprint a unsubstantiated clip off the internet search engine like that.
I’m a conservative, just not a paleo con. I’ve worked for “moderates” like Gov Christine Todd Whitman, Arnold (the recall) and Meg Whitman and for movement conservatives like Sen Jeff Sessions, and Ollie North, I’ve also worked for candidates in between like Governors Jeb Bush, John Engler, Tommy Thompson, Terry Branstad, Lamar Alexander, Larry Pressler, Mitt Romney (Gov race), and a bunch more at the House, Senate and Gubernatorial level. I’ve helped right of center candidates beat the left in Canada. In the 28 years I spent running GOP campaigns, I had a success rate of about 75%.
I did not work for any of the establishment GOP committees or Super-pacs this cycle or last. The last time I was invited into the WH to give my opinion was in 1991, and I told them the polls were an illusion and I thought they were on a road to defeat. I was never invited back. (You can ask Bill Kristol, he was there.)
I live in Los Angeles CA, not DC. Whatever gilded aristocracy of the Washington consultant/media complex you carp about is not a place where I regularly reside. I’m hardly an establishment GOP favorite. (In fact the last time I had dinner in a hugely expensive Georgetown five star restaurant, it was with your beloved icon Rush Limbaugh. We had a good time.)
But I have been in the fight for the conservative side for nearly thirty years. Your piece was lazy, simplistic, uniformed and lacked any reasonable standard of fact-checking. And as I said, the traitor/Nazi stuff was deeply offensive.
Here’s my response:
Would you have preferred Benedict Arnold?
No conservative in his right mind goes onto a notoriously liberal television show of a notoriously liberal network, sits next to John Podesta and promptly turns on his own team. Which is exactly what you did when you went on Meet the Press and slammed Rush Limbaugh. It is passing strange that you tell me you have broken bread with Rush, then go out there and clobber him on a liberal TV show. Since any real conservative knows better than to do what you did, and I know you are a smart guy, one can only assume that your attack on Rush was quite deliberately calculated.
This is not the first time you have gone after conservatives. Your previous attacks on South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint and Governor Sarah Palin are typical of how moderate Republicans play this game.
You are at it again in the current issue of Time magazine.
What you propose is anything but new.
In fact, this is the kind of nonsense that was preached all the way back in 1950 by New York Governor Tom Dewey in his Princeton lectures. Dewey, as you recall, lectured Republicans about the “vociferous few” and the “impractical theorists” — meaning the Reaganesque-Rush Limbaugh-style conservatives of the day — in the GOP who were intent on driving out all the GOP moderates and liberals and into the arms of Democrats. Concluded Dewey: “The results would be neatly arranged, too. The Republicans would lose every election and the Democrats would win.” Dewey said all of this, of course, following his own two defeats against FDR and Truman. In both of which elections he ran as the Great Moderate Hope — and got clobbered. The second time, I might add, when everybody in politics alive in the day expected him to trounce the unpopular Harry Truman.
Surely you remember when former President Ford insisted to the New York Times in 1980 — four years after he ran the typical moderate losing campaign — that Reagan was too “extreme” to win a national election.
When you note in your Time piece that “we still design campaigns to prevail in the America of 25 years ago” you are incorrect. Every single campaign beginning with the Bush 41 re-election campaign of 1992 – 20 years ago – has run head-long from Ronald Reagan and conservatism. And the results are, accordingly, dismal. Say again, dismal.
What you fail to note is that the campaigns of 1980 and 1984 were an overwhelming success — precisely because unlike all but one that followed, not to mention the Ford disaster of 1976 that preceded them — they were run with a presidential nominee who fully embraced conservative principles. Even George H.W.Bush realized he had to do this to get a win on Reagan’s coattails in 1988, and Lee Atwater saw to it. But notably, once on his own, President Bush, as good a man as can exist but a thorough-going moderate, wound up with a dismal 37% of the vote. The GOP has never recovered from this Bush/moderate/”compassionate conservatism” business.
You also skirt the obvious.
Anybody with any knowledge of the way the Washington world works knows that your name on the Navigators web site is because you are allowing them to benefit from their association with your name as a high-profile GOP consultant. And it works like a charm.
Here’s NPR itself reporting their decision to hire Navigators — and they specifically mention you by name. The only reason to do so, in the world of Washington, is to send a message to GOP lawmakers via your name. A message that says, in essence, “Listen to us… we’re really not that bad… hey… you know ole Mike Murphy, don’t you? Well Mike’s firm… yada yada yada.”
There is a growing fury out there among conservatives with the “consultant class” of which you are a card carrying member. The idea is fast growing (and one doesn’t have to be a “Paleo-Conservative” which neither you nor I claim to be, to believe this) that none of you are serious about limited government, much less willing to stand up against the Establishment GOP that has brought us to this pass. And saying, in essence, that Republicans should campaign for the dissolution of marriage and get on with supporting the legalization of polygamy, polyamory, bigamy etc. (the inevitable legal consequences of gay marriage, as Justice Scalia has noted) is only the modern version of Dewey or Ford saying conservatives of the day were too extreme and out of touch.
The term “Quisling” as I documented, is in the vernacular meaning someone who is a traitor of some sort… to principles in this case. It has nothing to do with Nazis. Most assuredly you are not a Nazi. I will be happy to Americanize and use the term “Benedict Arnold.”
Mike, I wish you well. But what you did to Rush Limbaugh on national television — particularly in this climate — was disgraceful. If you haven’t apologized to him at this point you should. Ditto with Senator DeMint and Governor Palin. Not to mention conservatives all over the land.
Again, the reason you are provided these mainstream media platforms is because you can be counted on to do exactly what you did do. You know it, everybody knows it. But it plays well with liberals — particularly in places like Los Angeles.
Thanks for your response.
Best wishes for continued dialogue from this Reagan conservative,