We can whine about the double standard all day long, but that’s not fighting — it’s whining.
The double standard, obviously, is that conservatives are asked questions about their faith that are intentionally meant to paint us as wacko extremists — the idea being to disqualify us with the electorate and to tarnish conservatives as a whole. The most recent example arrived yesterday when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was asked by GQ Magazine about the age of the Earth.
Rubio’s answer is still being mocked by the media and should he decide to run for president in 2016, there’s no question this answer will be used to define him:
I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
Our first reaction to this cannot be:
G**DAMMIT, NO ONE EVER ASKS DEMOCRATS THESE G**DAMN QUESTIONS!
While it’s true that the media will never ask or attempt to pin Democrats down with gotcha questions about their extremism — partial-birth abortion, Global Warming, unions, or anything else — we get nowhere complaining about that fact. We can’t change the media’s behavior. We can only change our own behavior.
For starters, our candidates need to understand that after successfully disqualifying Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Murdouck, the media now thinks they’ve cracked a code: First, they ask us a question that pits our faith against policy. They then hope we blow it. Then if we do blow it, they not only beat the individual candidate senseless with it, they use it to tarnish the GOP as a whole.
And it works. Akin and Murdouck lost and the GOP brand as a whole took a hit. But we need not always bungle the question to have the issue haunt us.
During the 2012 primary debates, ABC’s George Stephanopolous asked our entire line-up if they oppose birth control. It was a preposterous question. But the idea was to scare single young women into voting for Obama as though that’s even an issue. And it worked. Birth control became a winning issue for Obama.
So now we know that tactic.
What to do about it?
Again, complaining about it is not going to make it go away. But there are two things we can do….
1. Stay as far away from the media as possible. Rubio talking to GQ is like a Christian entering the lion’s den. The lack of judgement he showed in subjecting himself to this interview is troublesome. There’s absolutely no upside in subjecting yourself to a GQ, unless you’re under the delusional belief you can win them over.
But the same goes for the media in general. Whether it’s at the presidential or local level, we have to stop subjecting our candidates to the left-wing media during these debates — especially primary debates when we really do have full control over who moderates.
There are so many ways for candidates to get their message out around the filter of the mainstream that these kinds of risks are no longer necessary.
2. Because we can’t avoid the media entirely, our side needs to have better answers to these kinds of questions. We now know what the tactic is, so we have to be prepared for it.
We have three short years to get our act together and when it comes to choosing our new crop of leaders, media savvy must be a primary concern.