Wednesday, November 29, 2012, 11pm ET/8pm PT
[The interview is ~36 minutes long; the entire show runs 1 hour.]
RD = Rebecca Diserio
RSM = Robert Stacy McCain
RD: Alright, alright, good evening, everybody, it is Wednesday and it is 8pm out on the West coast. It is 11pm on the East coast, and this is The Rebecca Diserio Show and I am Rebecca Diserio.
We have a special program, as we always try to do for you. Tonight, we have a special guest: Robert Stacy McCain–that’s right, from The Other McCain website.
Briefly, if you’re not familar– which I can’t believe if you’re in the conservative movement you’re not familiar– but we may have some listeners that are new.
He is a veteran journalist and conservative commentator who is also a public speaker, author and communications consultant. He is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and is co-author (with Lynn Vincent) of Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party.
From 1997 to 2008, he was a writer and editor for The Washington Times. And like I said, now Robert Stacy McCain has his huge website, The Other McCain. And I’d like to welcome Stacy McCain to the show.
Are you there, Stacy?
RSM: Yes, Rebecca, how are you?
RD: I’m doing well, I’m doing well, appreciate you so much taking out a little bit of time and visiting with me here on The Rebecca Diserio Show. We spoke briefly, earlier today, and you really hit the nail on the head when you said, “Let’s talk about Saxby Chambliss.” So why don’t we do that? I don’t know if you– he was just a couple hours ago on the “Hannity” show and he made some comments. You may or may not have seen that.
What is your take, over all, Stacy, on this whole thing?
RSM: Well, it surprised a lot of people that Saxby Chambliss, a conservative Republican senator from Georgia, was the first to publicly repudiate the taxpayer pledge, the “No New Taxes” pledge, which he took to the taxpayers of Georgia. And this is something– this is a false thing, a myth, the idea that the taxpayer pledge from the Americans For Tax Reform is all about Grover Norquist. Grover Norquist will tell you, “Saxby Chambliss never promised me anything. He promised it to the taxpayers of Georgia.” And this is especially important in the wake of the most recent election defeat. Here we are, wondering– and a lot of conservatives, a lot of Republicans, have been sitting around going, “Gee, we lost that election. What do we really stand for? What do we believe in?” Well, look– if the Republican party is not going to be the party that stands against bigger government, that stands against higher taxes… Well, what’s the point of the Republican party? I mean, my goodness, you know?
So, Saxby was the first person who decided that he would sort of stick his thumb in the eye of the Republican party’s conservative base, so to speak. And since then I’ve lost count, but six or eight other Republican officials have come forward and joined him in this supposedly moderate, bi-partisan view about taxes.
RD: Right, right, and on that “Hannity”show– I’ll just give you a little heads up then– [Sean] Hannity was sticking pretty firm to his guns and said, “Hey, look, Obama has not thus far come to the table with anything, nothing. He’s not willing to even talk about entitlements.” And Saxby says, “Well, yeah, that’s an issue, that’s a problem.”
What I don’t get, Stacy, is why, why is it– do you think it’s this election, the defeat, that is causing these senators to waver here? What do you think is going on? What is the mind-set here, do you think?
RSM: Well, the mind-set was explained to me in May 2009. Now I’m going to take you back in time and remind you of a little bit of history. When the National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, came out in a joint endorsement with Jim Greer, at that time the Chairman of the Florida Republican Party– and they endorsed Charlie Crist to be the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Now they made this endorsement, you understand, in May of 2009, fifteen months ahead of the party primary.
RSM: And Crist had quite publicly embraced Obama’s Stimulus spending. Okay, so in the wake of the 2008 defeat, all of these Republican big-shots thought that the way to go was grab hold of some moderate bi-partisanship and endorse Charlie Crist. As you well remember, of course, there was this guy nobody had ever heard of, who didn’t have any money, didn’t have statewide name recognition, and conservatives rallied behind that alternative to Charlie Crist. Nowadays, we call this little-known underdog Senator Marco Rubio.
RD: Right, right, great point. I– thank you for taking us back to that point. Because here, kinda what I’m getting the flavor of what you’re saying, is this all goes back to the “Old Boys” kind of network, the moderate, so to speak, establishment Republicans, that are trying to think that they need to move the party to a “Democrat-lite”.
Is that what you’re kind of getting at here?
RSM: Yes. See, this was explained to me by a Republican operative in May 2009. I said, ” Why on earth would John Cornyn endorse somebody fifteen months in advance of the primary?” And he said– and this consultant, I still remember, said this to me, “Stacy, they want their chairmanships back. Period.”
In other words, they will listen to anything that they believe will get them the majority back so that they can be called Chairman again. Now, I’m all in favor of electing a Republican majority in the Senate. But the idea that the way to do that is to abandon principles, to muddle the difference between Republicans and Democrats on key issues. Well, if that works (laughter from RSM and RD), if that worked out so well in the past, you might think of, I don’t know, the administration of President Dole, you know… it’s just doesn’t work as practical politics. Never mind that it represents a cowardly abandonment of firm principle.
The problem is, if you go back to 1964, the simple title of Phyllis Schafly’s book: A Choice, Not an Echo. You have to offer the voters an alternative to the party in power, or else the opposition has no reason to exist.
RD: Oh yeah, I totally, totally agree with that. Reflecting on just this last defeat here, with Romney… most listeners to my show know I was not behind his candidacy, but went along to get along around in October. Because we want to oust this Obama guy, we’ve got to oust this guy. But all along, I felt, all through the summer I felt, Stacy, that this was the wrong path, that we’ve got to make a firm stand and get back to the core principles of being conservative. Somehow, it’s that establishment– that I’m identifying as establishment, I might be wrong– that really wants to sell to the party: this is what we need to do. We need to modernize, is kind of how they’re trying to sell it. We need to look at the demographic landscape, and face up to the fact that we’re going to have to move and abandon some of these principles.
I don’t think that worked. It hasn’t worked in the past. And I don’t think it has anything to do with the demographics. I think it has to do with what sounds true to the American people. We– our message wasn’t true. I don’t know. What say you, Stacy?
RSM: Well, the Republican party has serious problems that are both deep and complex. One of the things that I’ve been trying to do in the wake of this disastrous election is to encourage people to just say: you have the right to remain silent. Okay. I would suggest that you would use it. In other words, instead of everybody running around, pointing fingers, playing the blame game and– or claiming that they have the one true secret of how to fix the Republican party, let’s sit down calmly. Let’s reason like reasonable people, and try to figure out this problem which is complex and enduring.
I’ve said, if you really want to sit down and look at it, it’s a problem that goes back to the Bush Administration: the basic problem of Republican brand damage. One of the most interesting facts to come out of the election was a poll question, an exit poll question, in which they asked people: Who do you blame most for the current economic problems? And more people said Bush than Obama.
RD: Yeah, yeah.
RSM: That tells you something right there.
RD: Yeah, that was– you’re talking about this current election cycle, about a month ago, the November election, right? The presidential election? That came out that they were still blaming Bush. That even after four years of Obama being in office– and all of us citizen-journalists, you’re a real journalist, I’m a citizen-journalist, trying to show and illustrate what had happened in the country. They still– the majority of Americans– didn’t hear that, didn’t believe it. And so, my thing then, Stacy, is the media. The message isn’t getting through. Do you think there’s some credence to that?
RSM: Oh, it’s absolutely– look, look… Rebecca, a basic problem, something that we saw in the aftermath of this election. You remember the meltdown of the ORCA system, correct?
RD: Right, right.
RSM: Well, what we learned in the wake of this was that the people who had been put in charge of this basic, very important tool– technological tool– to get out the vote and to report get out the vote efforts, they didn’t understand the technology they were using. Okay, this was just shocking. It was incompetence. And we have a problem, that people in the Republican party whose job it is to talk about the media don’t know anything about the media. You hear people talking about demographics who don’t know anything about demographics. And you have people talking about culture who don’t know anything about culture.
RD: Oh gosh, yes.
Second half of the interview tomorrow.
Also read, at The Other McCain: Retire #Taxby Chambliss
EDIT.1: Thanks for the linkage, The Other McCain!