We lost by somewhere around 400,000 votes in four swing states, and suddenly the sky-is-falling in on the GOP? Well, no, actually it’s not. There’s no question we can do many things better, and must. But when you lose to a sitting president by only this much, one mistake that can be made is panicking and over-correcting. And this is something we may already be seeing from our so-called 2016 front runners, as they seek to appease a media that can never be appeased.
Late last week, in a conference call with donors, Governor Mitt Romney said what we all know to be the truth: that Obama’s reelection plan was to divide Americans across various lines and dole out government freebies, such as health insurance, amnesty, and birth control. The promise of these “gifts” (or the fear of losing them) would then drive turnout, specifically among those who did turn out: blacks, students, and Hispanics — and lo and behold, it worked.
For days now, Romney’s been blistered by the media for telling a truth about a political tactic that the media itself declared as smart politics in real-time as Obama practiced it. I guess the lesson is that practicing divisive politics with the use of taxpayer-funded freebies is okay, but pointing it out is racist.
But that’s just the ObamaMedia being the ObamaMedia. As we saw during the campaign, the media will use any opportunity to accuse Republicans of an “ism,” because the media knows the cry of any “ism” gins up turnout among the so-called injured party — who always happen to be Democrats.
What should worry us, though, is that some of the men who seek to carry our flag into 2016 have jumped aboard this Nonsense Train with both feet. At differing levels of indignation, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have all publicly criticized Romney for telling this truth.
Speaking only for myself, let me just say that if this is the first step these men are taking towards a 2016 White House bid — I’m not impressed. Attacking a man for telling what we all know is the truth is political cowardice. Tactically, though, it’s just dumb, and dumb will not win the White House in 2016.
I may be alone on this, but I happen to think coming as close as Romney did to defeating a sitting incumbent president while under a withering 24/7 assault at the hands of the ObamaMedia, is pretty damn impressive. That doesn’t mean mistakes weren’t made. But Romney did a lot of things right, and one of them was very early on, when he set the precedent that he would not be bullied by the media.
When you look at the various autopsies written in the wake of Romney’s defeat, the campaign’s cause of death has mainly been blamed on a computer program that fell apart and hampered the ground game, the Obama campaign’s early defining of Romney when he had no money to fight back, the damaging 47% remark, the GOP problem with Hispanics, and, yes, all those gifts Obama doled out.
What no one is blaming the loss on, however, is Romney’s refusal to cave to the media when they came after him over tax returns, his comments on Libya, all those phony fact-checks, or even to distance himself from Donald Trump. Through it all, Romney stood strong, looked strong, and benefitted by not demoralizing his supporters or encouraging the media through weakness to ratchet up this nonsense. Standing up to the media was something Romney did right.
If anything, in 2016, we’re going to need our standard-bearers to be even more aggressive against the media, especially when it comes to not repeating a number of mistakes that were made in 2012. For starters, we cannot allow the media unfettered access to our primary debate process.
During the primary debates, the damage the media intentionally did in laying the groundwork for Obama’s divisive push on immigration, birth control, and other social issues — hurt us throughout the rest of the campaign. And this damage was completely self-inflicted, because we were stupid enough to let the media have total control of our candidates for ninety-minutes over 20 nationally-televised debates.
We’re also going to need a 2016 nominee with the sand to ensure we get better debate moderators and overall conditions during the presidential debates.
We’re now in this process of soul-searching and wound-licking and self-correction — and I’m all for that. But anyone on our side who thinks the media can be appeased by jumping on whatever anti-Republican Narrative Bandwagon they’ve crafted this time will never be president. Because it’s a trap. And if you show weakness, those traps never stop coming.
Caving to the media on any issue, but especially to beat up one of our own for no reason, is a massive over-correction, and a fatal one.
We’re looking for strong leaders and winners in 2016, not whelps.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC