Reporters in the liberal media had a rare fit of bipartisanship recently when they learned some Republicans had signed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting same-sex “marriage.” A veritable avalanche of stories proclaimed this tiny group the new chiefs of the Republican Party.
USA Today gushed, “Top Republicans urge court to support gay marriage.” U.S. News and World Report dubbed them “Republican leaders.” The San Jose Mercury News claimed Meg Whitman and “other conservatives” now support redefining marriage. Even the Daily Caller wrote, “Prominent conservatives defend gay marriage before Supreme Court.”
As with most events they cover, the mainstream media are not telling the full story about these gallant GOP giants.
I’ll say something no other reporter or columnist will say about these socially liberal political figures: They’re losers.
I don’t mean that as a pejorative – I mean that in the denotative sense. With a few notable exceptions (see below), the list of 130-some signatories consists of has-beens, nobodies, and non-entities who have a poor track record in recent elections.
The 0.00000236 percent of registered Republicans who signed the amicus brief are non-Republicans, unsuccessful Republicans, unelectably liberal Republicans, or thoroughly anonymous.
Some of the signers and alleged “Republican leaders” are not Republicans at all. Some actively supported Obama or ran against Republicans.
Not (Even) Republican-In-Name-Only
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was a successful two-term governor of New Mexico 10 years ago. After briefly running for the Republican presidential nomination, he left the party over its shoddy treatment of him and ran as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate last year.
William Weld had a similar history. The popular Republican governor of Massachusetts lost his 1996 Senate race to John Kerry and could not get confirmed U.S. ambassador to Mexico because he supports drug legalization. He entered the 2006 race for governor of New York as a Libertarian but dropped out after losing the GOP primary. In 2008, Weld endorsed Barack Obama for president, saying he “will transform our politics.”
Other signatories spent the last few years trying to build a third party to challenge Republicans from the Left.
Daily Beast columnists David Frum (who is a Canadian citizen) and Mark McKinnon talked enthusiastically about forming a third party of faux “centrists” from elements of the “No Labels” movement that would redefine Obama into the center. Neither is precisely a conservative leader: McKinnon, a former Democrat, declined to work with John McCain in 2008 so he would not harm Obama’s chances of being elected. Frum has attempted to lead a revolt against conservatism since 1991, writing books to redefine the term and launching an ill-fated eponymous website, FrumForum, which closed last year.
Even former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, whose article in The American Conservative drew attention to the group, has advocated strongly for a third party. Huntsman told MSNBC last February, “I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third party movement or some voice out there that can put forth new ideas. Someone’s going to step up at some point and say we’ve had enough of this.” In July, this Republican Party leader announced he would not attend the 2012 convention “nor any Republican convention in the future” until the party embraces his definition of “inclusiveness.”
Huntsman has another problem: No matter how the media promoted him, Republicans wanted nothing to do with him. After Huntsman amassed 69 votes in an Iowa straw poll, Jon Stewart mocked, “If all of Jon Huntsman’s supporters met at the Ames, Iowa, Quiznos,the fire marshal would say, ‘Yeah, that’s fine. There are some more tables open in the back.’”
These are the media’s ideal Republicans, the kind who endorse Obama, try to undermine Republicans in presidential races, and go down to stunning defeat.
Huntsman’s crash-and-burn campaign illustrates another trait shared by many of these self-appointed leaders: like Weld, they have a markedly unsuccessful record with the voters in recent years.
Those Who Can Do….
One of the featured signers, Meg Whitman, lost her race for governor of California in 2010 by 1.3 million votes and nearly 13 percentage points. In a landslide year for Republicans, Whitman lost by a wider margin than Sharron Angle and Richard Mourdock combined. Both of those much-maligned conservatives lost by five percentage points, Mourdock losing to a Democrat who also opposed same-sex “marriage.”
Whitman nearly lost as badly as Tom Tancredo, when he ran for governor of Colorado as a third party candidate against a Republican who took 11 percent of the vote. Her loss was infinitely higher than Rep. Allen West, who probably won.
Given her history, perhaps it is not surprising she signed a court brief to overturn the will of California’s voters.
So did her fellow Californian Mary Bono Mack, who became a Congresswoman when her husband, Sonny Bono, died. Shortly after supporting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2012, she lost to her Democratic challenger.
Michael Huffington, a one-term Congressman and one-time Mr. Arianna Huffington, came out of the closet four years after losing his race for U.S. Senate in California.
Not all the unsuccessful were on the ballot themselves.
Steve Schmidt put his electoral insights into practice with John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, as did Nicolle Wallace, the source of many of the negative leaks about Sarah Palin during the race. Wallace later admitted she did not vote for McCain in 2008.
Another campaign hand, David Kochel, was the Romney campaign’s senior Iowa adviser in 2008 and 2012. The campaign lost the Iowa caucuses both times and lost the state in the general election by six percentage points.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, an advocate of the Iraq war, signed the brief – and when has he ever led us astray?
Victory is not the lone arbiter of a political cause, much less a policy’s efficacy. But when its promoters insist they have the roadmap out of the political wilderness, their win-loss ratio merits scrutiny.
All of these operatives have something else in common: They are well to the Left of most Americans, let alone Republicans, on a host of issues aside from homosexual “marriage.”
Rockefeller Republican Redux
Many of the politicians who signed the brief hail from the Eastern seaboard, the deeply blue ancestral home of the Rockefeller Republican elites who demonized Barry Goldwater and dismissed Ronald Reagan a generation ago. Their moderate message has not led to smashing success.
Congresswoman Connie Morella, who represented Maryland in Congress for 15 years, voted against the partial birth abortion ban and in favor of gay adoption but still lost the 2002 election to a Democrat.
Nancy Johnson of Connecticut kept her House seat for decades by distancing herself from the GOP and calling herself “an independent voice.” She, too, opposed the partial birth abortion ban. The big spender authored the bill creating George W. Bush’s Medicaid drug benefit, which costs $80 billion a year and added $16 trillion in unfunded liabilities, a major reason she lost her 2006 race to Chris Murphy by 12 percentage points.
Two years later, it was her colleague, Rep. Christopher Shays’ turn. Shays, who signed the brief, is a pro-abortion RINO with a 100 percent pro-gay voting record from the Human Rights Campaign but still got defeated in 2008.
Some of the signers have had better luck.
New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman barely scraped past her Democratic opponents James Florio and Jim McGreevey – yes, that Jim McGreevey – winning by one percentage point each time. Appointed EPA Director under President George W. Bush, she repaid him by trashing his administration in her book, It’s My Party, Too.
Rep. James Kolbe of Arizona kept his seat despite coming out as a homosexual in 1996, after homosexuals blackmailed him for voting in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. The pro-abortion, Open Borders congressman retired in 2006. He refused to endorse Republican Randy Graf and, two years later, endorsed then retracted his endorsement from Republican Tim Bee. Both lost to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
In all, three successive Massachusetts governors signed the brief. Paul Cellucci, a pro-abortion Catholic, served as governor of Massachusetts after William Weld. When he became ambassador to Canada, Jane Swift became acting governor. She decided not to run for a term in her own right, clearing the way for the election of Mitt Romney, who still defends marriage.
True, Tom Ridge was perhaps the most popular Republican governor of Pennsylvania in memory – a decade ago. Ridge left that strange state where Republicans are “pro-choice” and Democrats are “pro-life,” to serve as the first Secretary of Homeland Security and backed the Bush administration’s unpopular amnesty proposal. He, too, wrote a poison pen memoir about George W. Bush, which was less-than-convincing.
Two elected members of Congress signed the brief, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York.
These exceptions aside, one sees they are almost all former elected officials, most not very popular. More importantly, the brief has a heavy roster of Republicans from deeply Democratic states, not a few from Massachusetts.
But Republicans have no hope of carrying Massachusetts in the presidential election – the last candidate to do so was…Ronald Reagan. And as recent events have shown, a Massachusetts Republican cannot win nationwide. Indeed, marriage outperformed Mitt Romney in every state where the two were on the ballot. Despite their moderation, there are now zero Congressional Republicans from New England. Exporting that record seems imprudent.
Spin Doctor Who?
Finally, a huge portion of those who signed the brief are not now nor have they ever been prominent, many never elected to anything.
Upon hearing that “prominent conservatives” endorse same-sex “marriage,” one might have expected Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, or Rick Perry. Instead, they got Harvey Rosen, Lee Rudofsky, Reuben Jeffery, and David Chavern – all of whom apparently exist.
A moderately well-informed voter reading the list would say “who?” more often than a flock of stuttering owls.
Some gained a limited degree of fame on television. Republican talking heads are significantly overrepresented. Fox News “culture warrior” Margaret Hoover, the great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover, signed on. So did Patrick Ruffini and commentator S.E. Cupp.
Political strategist Rich Galen sometimes appears on Fox. Analyzing the 2012 election, when an estimated three-to-six million Republican voters stayed home, Galen wrote that “the GOP is maxed out on voters. It has squeezed every vote out of its available voter base and has no choice but to expand that base if they are going to be successful in the future.”
Some of the new “leaders” held appointed positions before or between their gigs in punditry. Marc Gerson, the speechwriter who invited David Frum into the Bush-43 White House, was the author of The Neoconservative Vision.
But the accomplishments of most of these “prominent” people would leave the average reader in stumped silence. John Goodwin, for instance, was chief of staff to Raul Labrador, a congressman most people have never heard of. David A. Javdan was general counsel to U.S. Small Business Administration for four years.
The numbers of “assistant deputy,” legal counsel, and “e-campaign” officials is richer than a typical listing of party elites. These are public positions anyone would be honored to hold, but they confer neither prominence nor leadership.
Further down one finds party donors such as Cliff Asness, Lew Eisenberg, and Dan Loeb, or lawyers like Ben Ginsberg or Ted Olson. Tyler Deaton is the current secretary of the New Hampshire Young Republicans, not exactly a springboard to the presidency. Perhaps one day he will be a leader, but he’s not now.
You may ponder over the full list here.
Its signatories may be described many ways, but “conservatives” and “leaders” do not spring to mind. Despite having plenty of time and opportunity, not a single media outlet has called the mainstream press for its misrepresentation of these third party enthusiasts, unelected officials, and (mostly) unsuccessful politicians.
In their reporting the media redefined the term “leader,” as well as “conservative,” but the substance remains the same. Renaming a loser a leader does not make him a winner. Rebranding a dark horse a front-runner does not alter his relative insignificance. Labeling a failure a success does not improve his chances of actually succeeding at improving society, regardless of the fervor of liberals’ beliefs nor the sincerity and purity they ascribe to their motives.
Those principles also apply to their attempts to redefine “marriage.”
Cross-posted at LifeSiteNews.com.