Conservatives are worried that an ideal Reagan conservative has yet to emerge and lead the 2012 GOP presidential field. But are we allowing the liberal media (and establishment Republicans) to manipulate the narrative to prevent such a result?
Obviously, the liberal media do not have the best interests of Reagan conservatives in mind when they do their “reporting.” So when they tell us certain GOP candidates are unelectable or electable, common sense would counsel us to take their advice with mounds of salt. But do we?
Surely Ronald Reagan isn’t the only qualified, electable Reagan conservative in our lifetimes. Nonetheless, the virtually unchallenged assumption is that Reagan conservatism is extreme and its purveyors intrinsically divisive.
The demonization always follows the same pattern. A promising mainstream conservative candidate appears and begins to gain traction and is then relentlessly attacked and marginalized into apparent unelectablility.
Compare the media’s treatment of Mitt Romney with their treatment of John McCain in the 2008 Republican primary campaign. We don’t need to debate here whether Romney is a Reagan conservative; all that matters for purposes of this discussion is that the liberal media thought he was — or enough so that he had to be stopped. McCain, on the other hand, had been their darling for years for his high-profile counter-conservative stances and his penchant for administering friendly fire on his GOP colleagues. It wasn’t until the general election that they turned on McCain.
More recently, we see the same phenomenon with this year’s slate of potential candidates. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are strong, unapologetic conservatives, qualifying as conservatives on all three legs of Reagan’s three-legged stool: economic, social and foreign policy issues.
They have both been savaged as inexperienced, extremist, divisive lightweights. But the media never cast Barack Obama’s inexperience in a negative light. They conserved their ammo for use solely against Palin, who wasn’t even running for the main spot on the ticket and who had far more executive experience than Obama.
The media portrayed Obama as a uniter, despite his having had the most liberal voting record in the Senate in 2007. And they haven’t properly acknowledged the extent of his divisiveness yet, though he’s the most polarizing president of the modern era — including George W. Bush.
This year, the establishment had been propping up Mitch Daniels, probably because it didn’t view him as being as conservative as Palin, Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain or Tim Pawlenty. Now that Daniels is out, we hear that those in the establishment will start talking up John Huntsman — doubtlessly because they see him as less conservative and thus less threatening.
Nor is the media’s anti-conservative vitriol reserved exclusively for announced presidential candidates. On “Meet the Press,” David Gregory ambushed Paul Ryan for his plan to “cut” Medicare when polls allegedly show that people incoherently oppose cuts even if the failure to impose substantial cuts would bankrupt the country. In a display of smugness I’ve not witnessed since Obama told Sen. McCain “I won, John,” Gregory sneeringly lectured Ryan on his audacity in promoting his plan without having a national “consensus” in favor of it.
Hold on for a second. I researched Nexis and Google and couldn’t find a scintilla of evidence of Gregory’s indignation against Obama for shoving Obamacare through without a consensus. So the rule is: Vilify the conservative for pushing a plan and simultaneously engaging in a national dialogue aimed at developing a national consensus, and glorify the liberal for lying, cheating and stealing to cram a bill through with an overwhelming majority of opposition, let alone without a consensus.
But in the end, it’s not the liberal bias, double standards, selective demonization and unfairness that troubles me most. It is what I fear to be our side’s passive acquiescence to the media’s predictable narrative. Why do we keep allowing our political enemies to pick and disqualify our candidates?
Professional politicians have steered our ship of state into the Titanic iceberg. It’s hardly facetious to suggest that there’s an inverse relationship between the collective experience of those in the political class and their ability and willingness to extricate us from the mess they’ve created.
We need fresh blood and a fresh approach to the nation-threatening problems we face, so perhaps we should liberate ourselves from the template preventing us from stepping outside the box.
I haven’t decided whom I will support for the GOP nomination this early in the field. I like Palin, Cain, Ryan, Rick Perry, Santorum, Pawlenty, John Bolton and Bachmann, among others. But I sure won’t let the liberal media or establishment types color my thinking about it.
Let’s try to resist the debilitating contagion of pessimism out there. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there are plenty of good candidates, and all of them are infinitely superior to Obama. If the nation is to be saved, one of them, on this list or not, has to prevail.