I’m almost starting to get a bit scared. Noonan’s inviegling against the GOP for a while is old hat (short summary: how dare everyone around right now not be Reagan), but I was brought up sharp at the end of this post-Mississippi election vent:
Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party’s fortunes from the president’s. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn’t be left with a ruined “brand,” as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership.
Setting aside some of the tortured language here (‘followership’? may I never hear that attempted neologism again), Noonan’s disenchantment with the fascination over the ‘brand’ is similar to mine stated yesterday, where by mistaking the image projected for the substance of the whole and/or not realizing how the substance is what has poisoned the image, those on the right obsessing over problems with the ‘brand’ end up undercutting themselves every step of the way.
Her thoughts following that quote above which conclude the essay also touch on another key point I’ve argued, namely that McCain has to escape being seen as an extension of Bush or else, but I found the most interesting part of the essay to be the snippets provided from old-line GOP ‘southern strategy’ wonk (with all that implies), Mississippi resident Clarke Reed. The most notable parts:
There are always “lots of excuses,” Mr. Reed said of the special-election loss. Poor candidate, local factors. “Having said all that,” he continued, “let’s just face it: It’s not a good time.” He meant to be a Republican. “They brought Cheney in, and that was a mistake.” He cited “a disenchantment with the generic Republican label, which we always thought was the Good Housekeeping seal.”
What’s behind it? “American people just won’t take a long war. Just – name me a war, even in a pro-military state like this. It’s overall disappointment. It’s national. No leadership, adrift. Things haven’t worked.” The future lies in rebuilding locally, not being “distracted” by Washington.
Is the Republican solid South over?
“Yeah. Oh yeah.” He said, “I eat lunch every day at Buck’s Cafe. Obama’s picture is all over the wall.”
An anecdote — but a telling one.