Who Will Speak for Conservatives?
On November 5, just a few days after the election, Democratic strategist Maark Penn appeared on Chris Matthews Hardball Show and stated rather bluntly that President Obama needed an “event similar to Oklahoma City” to “reconnect with the voters.
The President, with the assistance of his friends in the media, turned the Tucson tragedy into Obama’s “Oklahoma City” event. Unlike Bill Clinton, Team Obama was grossly commercial and left nothing hidden. As mulletover so aptly stated, last night was the first event of the 2012 election.
Unlike previous memorial events (with the exception of Paul Wellstone’s) last night was crass and commercial. With the theme “Together We Thrive” and 14,000 logoed T-shirts, Obama used a national tragedy to advance his 2012 campaign and reconnect with voters. Tucson is a medium-size city. You don’t just have 14,000 extra large blue T-shirts sitting around waiting to be logoed. Getting 14,000 T-shirts logoed and shipped to Tucson takes a lot of planning and coordination. Given the short time frame, the shirts cost a minimum of $5 each or $70,000 – $80,000 total.
Team Obama knew exactly what it was doing – holding the memorial on a major university campus ensured there would be an energized audience to support the President. Obama gave a long (36 minute) speech, nearly three times as long as his presentation at the Ft. Hood memorial service. He was definitely the center of attention. He called for civility from all sides (e.g. don’t be too critical of my programs or too enthusiastic in fighting them and besides the media has already accomplished its mission of trashing Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and conservative talk radio hosts).
Besides, Obama can stand above the fray: he has the media and unions to do the dirty work.
But, the event was obviously a success as everyone from MSNBC and NPR to NFC and National Review raved about Obama’s performance. Some comments were made about the crowd cheering and the venue, but no one questioned whether Obama had exploited the tragedy, the appropriateness of the T-shirts or how the shirts got there and who paid for them.
This begs the question: who will speak for conservatives?
National Review has become far more centrist since Rich Lowry became editor and the Weekly Standard is no better. FNC also has been moving to the center in recent years as liberal contributors now outnumber conservative ones. According to Politico, FNC President Roger Ailes told the FNC Team to “tone it down” and last night’s panel was the most favorable to the President the network could have selected: Charles Krathammer (a Washington elitist and one of few people who loves the sound of his own voice as much as Barack Obama), Chris Wallace (one of the network’s most liberal hosts and the son of Mike Wallace) and Brit Hume, who is pretty middle of the road. Perhaps the network is afraid of being cut-off from the administration or Fox TV losing the BOR Super Bowl pre-game interview, perhaps it is just afraid or maybe it isn’t committed (to anything except money).
That brings the defenders of conservatism down to a small number of courageous Republicans who aren’t afraid of the media (Sarah Palin, Jim Demint, Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence and some of the newly-elected conservatives) and talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin (who the left are trying to muzzle by reinstating the Fairness Doctrine) and conservative sites like Drudge, Free Republic and BJG.
How effect will Obama’s atrategy be? We will see in coming weeks as teh 112th Congress goes back into session.
It appears the SEIU was in attendance too
So many questions … so few people asking them.