The GOP brand has become so enmeshed with the Lunatic Fringe – anarchists, fanatic fundamentalists, gun-toting militias, homophobes, misogynists, racists, and nihilists of all stripes – party operatives have been engaged in full-time damage control. Containment was evident last week when the Fringe raised a deadbeat cattle rancher, Cliven Bundy, to instant hero status only to disavow him days later. Containment was also evident this week when rightwing talk show jingoist, Rush Limbaugh, miscast another racist de jour as a Democrat; in fact disgraced Clippers owner, Don Sterling, turned out to be a registered Republican. Among the party faithful - and pitiful - squawking and stalking points matter more than facts.
Lost in this circus of raging racists is Jim Thompson, Chairmen of the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee (WCRCC), who wrote in his official party newsletter:
Media update for the week: saw on the news this week the offspring of a donkey and a zebra, black and white legs, rest all donkey. Not sure why this is news: now if we can teach him to read a teleprompter, we could have two living creatures the media will fawn over that is part white part black and all a**!
Chairman Thompson was NOT referring to a zebroid, a rare zebra-donkey hybrid born in Mexico last week, but to President of the United States, Barack Obama. Called to account, the incidental racist issued this retraction:
I would like to offer my sincere apology to those who were offended, and I regret including this item in the newsletter. In the future, it most certainly won’t happen again.
So what do Thompson, Bundy, Sterling, and Limbaugh share in common - besides racist rants? Collectively and periodically, they undergo ritual cleansing in the form of apologies, denials, deceptions, or distractions to cover-up their gaffes.
No list of blunderers would be complete without Todd ‘Legitimate Rape’ Akin and Richard ‘Rape is the Will of God’ Mourdock. Pre-gaffe Akin was favored to win over incumbent Claire McCaskill. Post-gaffe Akin lost by a margin of 55% to 39% due to backlash from women voters.
Pre-gaffe Mourdock – endorsed by ultra-conservative groups such a Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, Citizens United, and the NRA - defeated the moderate GOP incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP primary of 2012. Post-gaffe Mourdock lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.
Given these examples of GOP self-sabotage, here's a thought experiment: Suppose the buffoons of blunder, bluster, and bombast never said what they said and kept their mouths shut? Public opprobrium can also have an unintended consequence as whack jobs go underground to hatch their nefarious plans under cover of stealth and guile. Which leads us to the problem of WYSINWYG: What you see is NOT what you get. Under veils of apology, deception, denial and distraction, the true intent of the candidate can never be known – leaving you unable to make an informed choice at the polls.
Recall what happened in 2010 when Tea Party candidates swept state houses on a platform of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Once in office, new GOP dominated legislatures passed bills limiting reproductive rights, voting rights, and union rights – but not a SINGLE jobs bill. What you saw is NOT what you got, in other words: WYSINWYG. Smoke and mirrors. Caveat emptor.
Having alienated important constituencies, the GOP wants desperately to win them back:
Imagine an alternate reality where poles are reversed; where up is down and down is up; where papers of incorporation have sprung to life as legal persons; where employers have the right to view your medical records in the name of religious freedom; where state-sanctioned vaginal probes take precedence over job creation; where a photo ID confers more citizenship rights than a birth certificate; where tax cuts have left you poorer than before - this is the alternate reality of today’s GOP.
Will the new GOP Playbook also include a primer on Truth in Advertising? Will the GOP change course, change policies, or attract candidates more attuned to the aspirations of mainstream America?
Hardly! Everyday is Ground Hog Day in the Republican Playbook, and the GOP will do what they have always done: Invent new ways to repackage old swill in new bottles and turn an honest fact into a partisan lie.