By Aaron Epple
When Republicans blamed everybody -- not least the stupidity of the American voter -- but themselves for their 2012 election losses, I was disheartened but not especially surprised. If we're being honest, the liberal response in 2004 wasn't much more enlightened.
In the months since, although most Republicans have concluded that they just need a better marketing effort to attract (dupe) voters, a minority of higher-minded conservatives (they do exist, you just have to work to find them, like a good movie within the Hollywood trash heap) have admitted that the GOP's problems might just go a little bit beyond an allegedly misguided electorate, and that the party's own behavior has frequently been less than admirable.
The "autopsy" report released by the Republican National Committee yesterday -- presumably so named because Republicans wish to discover why the American public jumped its ideology while it was on its way home from work and left its mutilated corpse in the park -- unsurprisingly concluded that many Americans find the Republicans "scary," "out of touch," "narrow-minded," and comprised of "stuffy old men."
Not every ambiguous, that. And the RNC deserves kudos for seeking some honest answers. They could've easily gone to some pet think tank like the Heritage Foundation, which would've undoubtedly concluded that we were all just on our periods last November.
Now the questions is, what does the GOP plan to do with these findings? The RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, appearing quite humble and rational, stated on "Face the Nation:" "We've been a party that parachutes into a community four months before an election. The Obama campaign lived in these communities for years, the relationships were deep and authentic. We are going to have hundreds of people coast to coast......in African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American communities, to be part of the community on an ongoing basis, because if the familiarity isn't there, then silly things like (the Todd Akin controversy)... that caricature becomes true."
This is full of unintentional candor. First of all, Priebus basically admits that Obama represents ordinary Americans far better than the GOP does. And his remedy? Belatedly do the kind of outreach that Obama did as a poorly paid community organizer 25 years ago. I guess we should be grateful that at least Priebus didn't refer to them as "low information voters."
Preibus also finds the "stuffy old men" label vexing, emphatically stating, "We're the party of Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan!" Yes, but you're also the party of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and that crackpot Congressman from Georgia who said evolution was "a lie from the pit of hell."
Indeed, unfortunately for Preibus, the "caricature" he decries is alive and well and much more widespread than he apparently cares to admit, and neither he nor any mainstream Republican has done anything to distance the party from its chief perpetrators. (When RNC Chairman Michael Steele reasonably suggested a few years ago that incendiary rhetoric was hurting the party, his fellow Republicans gave him a rhetorical kick in the balls for his trouble).
They were in full force at last weekend's C-PAC Conference. Sarah Palin, who's done more to damage the Republican "brand" than anyone, was labeled the star of the show. Ann Coulter was also present, delivering her usual array of dumb-jock insults. Her targets included Sandra Fluke and Chris Christie, one of the few Republicans to demonstrate any bipartisan appeal, but who is now essentially ostracized by the GOP because he doesn't fly into a frothing rage whenever Obama's name is mentioned.
Preibus is misguided but I'd like to think he's at least sincere. Unfortunately, any outreach efforts he plans to make will be a joke as long as so many of his fellow Republicans -- many of whom are considered standard-bearers for the party -- continue to openly despise and ridicule the very people he wants to convert.