Another dispatch from the dusty, dangerous political trail by Clint Carson
Since Inauguration Day, Republicans and (some) conservatives have decried the relentless media assault on the Trump administration. From Russia to Charlottesville, members of the Fourth Estate have almost without exception given this nascent presidency no quarter.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the so-called Russian collusion investigation highlights the enduring problem (in fact, fatal weakness) of Republican administrations since Reagan — there is a dearth, if not an outright lack of existence, of Republican communicators who articulate the philosophical underpinnings and principles that define the Republican Party.
Why does Sessions find himself under siege today? Because he allowed Democrats, leftists, and their media allies to manipulate his Senate confirmation process. Sessions and the Trump administration, by not forcefully defending his testimony have allowed the calumny that this perfectly truthful testimony was anything but, to grow and fester. In the face of unrelenting leftist media distortions, the fact that Sessions served as a Trump campaign surrogate last year, and in that capacity represented the campaign before domestic as well as foreign interested parties, has been mutated into his alleged active solicitation of a foreign power’s intervention in the presidential election.
This is not to say that the Left and the media would not have made a similar attempt to smear the Sessions Justice Department and the Trump administration even if they had executed everything perfectly, but undoubtedly their substandard performance has made matters worse.
This is not an unfamiliar story for Republicans.
The late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), formerly a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, went on a national news outlet and declared his belief in “white niggers.” He served another nine years in the Senate. Except for conservative talk radio, the media was silent.
A year after what by the Left’s standards should have been a career-ender for Byrd, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), offered a polite throwaway line at the 100th birthday party of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), a conservative former Democrat who crossed the aisle decades before. Out of courtesy at his colleague’s birthday celebration, Lott said nice things about Thurmond, including suggesting the country would have been in better shape if Thurmond had been elected president many years before. Even the harshest critics conceded that the comments were primarily intended to praise an aged political icon on his birthday, but when they recalled that Thurmond had run for president in 1948 on the segregationist Dixiecrat ticket, Lott’s fate was sealed. Lott was forced to step down from his post as Senate Majority Leader.
As usual, the Democrats steadfastly stood by their man while the Republicans abandoned theirs.
Of course, throughout Bill Clinton’s impeachment saga, Democrats, despite the clear evidence of abuse of power and subornation of perjury on the part of the Commander in Chief, insisted through an incessant media mantra that the scandal was “just about sex.” A few years later, GOPer Mark Foley, a generally uncontroversial Florida congressman, was caught texting (did “sexting” as vernacular yet exist?) congressional pages untowardly and was summarily tossed overboard by panicky Republicans.
So why are the Democrats so effective from a communications standpoint at successfully defending their strays while Republicans routinely fail to protect, or worse, abandon, theirs?
Answer: Professional Democrat communications operatives believe in their party and principles. (Granted this is a somewhat simple job as their beliefs amount to a singular objective: raw political power.) Their Republican professional counterparts don’t.
Who watched Sean Spicer over his five months as White House press secretary and was captivated by his commitment to conservative and Republican principles? His adroit rhetoric and intellectual nimbleness? Part of the (partly deserved) late-night lampooning of Spicer was a direct product of his consistent inability to articulate the administration’s policies and programs in conservative terms that were relatable and believable to viewing voters. If he doesn’t believe in what he’s saying, why should they?
Refreshingly, contrary to the unrelenting clamor and manufactured press outrage over his Charlottesville response, President Trump’s recent exchange with White House reporters at Trump Tower was among his best sessions of live combat with the press corps. His reasoning and arguments were sound, and in the highest tradition of our Constitution: no matter how objectionable or hateful speech may be, people have a right to peaceably protest. And as President Trump rightly pointed out, that was exactly what had been occurring until the antifa jackboots showed up spoiling for a fight — in this case, actual physical provocation and violence.
Our fifth-column media elites continue to be shocked that President Trump’s support remains durable — polls showed his base to be unmoved in the days (now moving into a second week) following his Trump Tower besting of the mainstream-media bed-wetters. “How?!?,” loudly to themselves cry the subversive, America/self-hating media. Simple. He showed the power of the courage of his convictions — knowing before he uttered them that his words would be perverted and mischaracterized as racist and white-supremacist. He knew what he believed and stood before a snarling press and fearlessly said it anyway.
But the GOP’s polished and focus-grouped messengers and consultants despise their party’s own message, and the party base knows it. Even worse, these haughty and highly-paid hired guns get owned by the left-wing media because, unlike Trump at Trump Tower (and Reagan before him), they fail to articulate with conviction, and thereby win over, their audience. They’re just showing up to recite more talking points, probably written by some other press flack or consultant, who like them, is just cashing a check drawn on funds largely bilked out of that self-same bunch of party-base rubes.
This is why Donald Trump is president today — and the Republican Party still doesn’t get it. Until the GOP finds the cojones to draw its rhetorical six-guns on the media coyotes, loaded with something other than blanks, they’re going to keep losing their strays.