Maybe the electorate is beginning to tire of the relentless talk about jobs, the economy and the deficit. If we Americans are known for anything, it’s the brevity of our national attention span.
Lately, we’ve been hearing the siren call (some call it “dog whistle”) of some old, familiar themes—mostly enunciated by Republican presidential hopefuls seeking to burnish their appeal with notoriously culturally conservative Iowa caucus-goers.
There’s been a resurgence of the hot-button social issues in congress, too, in the form of an attempt to cut Planned Parenthood’s budget, and the decision by the house to go ahead and defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court (since that amoral faux-Christian foreigner in the White House won’t do it).
I think it was the TV talking head Howard Fineman who coined the term “crazy tax” to signify the rhetorical tribute all GOP presidential candidates will have to pay to their base to have any chance of winning the primaries. The problem is that primary voters comprise only a motivated sliver of the full party⎯motivated, as in ideologically. Whoever bends over the farthest to present the most favorable image to them will have the heaviest lift when it comes to convincing moderates and other reasonable people that he or she can be trusted to keep an even keel if given the helm of the ship of state.
All Democratic strategists have to do is to start running that lucky winner’s own speech excerpts and primary ads back at him (or her) during the general election campaign, and further editorializing will be unnecessary. Gone are the days when a candidate can deny that he ever made a certain statement, or that it was taken out of context. Somebody always has a video camera or a cell phone running. Just ask President George “Macaca” Allen.