Have you tried convincing imprudent people that you’re rational? Playing the game by the suspiciously utopian rules liberals drafted will without fail lead to bogus charges of unfairness. They just love claiming that Republicans enjoy throwing acid on the indigent for profit, and their spin won’t change even if a random member of the enemy party supports subsidies for the poor so they can buy their own retaliation cauldrons.
There’s nothing tenderhearted about the media’s savage treatment of anyone running against their precious buddies. Any Republicans who let them officiate won’t avoid the garbage penalties called by nearly all journalists who don’t receive paychecks signed by Uncle Rupert. But the GOP contenders will look like unprincipled.
So screw the game and be yourself. Too many Republicans refuse to take the aphoristic advice to be true to who they are (or, hopefully, to Adam Smith). They fear telling journalists to sod off when the latter whine about what their sanctimonious hearts perceive as insensitivity.
Instead, conservatives must perpetually fret that the Republican nominee will attempt to cast himself as a version of Barack Obama without all that moderate stuff. Presidential entrants must avoid the temptation to emphasize their liberal tendencies, and not just because kissing John King’s ring would offer a damning reflection of their limp commitment to limited government.
It may be too late to learn how to lean right for Mitt Romney, who will be whatever candidate you want. He’s lamely banking that the media will admire his pliability. For one, he’s embraced minimum wage hikes, although he seems to have found success without them, just like he got by without the padded safety net he favors.
Nominee Romney would spend far too long attempting to convince NBC News that he’s a mushy semi-liberal at heart. Even though it’s true, they’ll never believe him. Or maybe he’ll try to incite the proletariat into voting for him with more ranting against the one percent. His preppy populism makes as much sense as Ann Coulter claiming that Romneycare was a conservative alternative to Obama’s version.
As for Rick Santorum, he has been unabashed about his beliefs as much as he’s been abashed about contraceptive usage. Still, conservatives fret that he would spend as freely as did George W. Bush—minus the cowboy charm.
After all, the then-senator supported the same society-molding junk during the repellent ascent of compassionate conservatism, at least for the three-quarters of Bush’s term during which he concurrently served. Santorum hopefully wouldn’t try to convince either us or the media that government is about to forcefully create happy families.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich’s complaints about Paul Ryan preventing America from becoming Ramen Nation was part of a totally worthwhile effort to convince liberals to back him. The big-spending conservative, which would make sense if you were as smart as Newt, may claim to admire our 40th president even more than he does himself. But he’s not about to create the phenomenon of Gingrich Democrats.
Previously, politically correct appeasement didn’t work for John McCain, as the media forgot how much they adored him for frequently abandoning conservatism once he was the last Republican standing. He tried to serve his populist swill and ended up with an even more malnourished campaign. Campaign advice from him is as perfectly worthless as a writing tip from his daughter.
As for an earlier Republican flaming presidential failure, Bob Dole attempted to make amends for bringing up the death toll from Democratic wars in the 1970s—by being as politely bland as possible in the 1990s. The nadir came when he sadly tried to amass sympathy during the 1996 campaign by demonstrating the weightlifting apparatus he used to rehabilitate himself after he was hurt fighting for our nation.
The pitiable manner in which he replicated his therapy was his sad attempt to compete with Bill Clinton’s effusive unctuousness. It was naturally an impossible task, given that the fawning media treated Bubba Scummy as an Obama prequel. But Dole would have been better off scowling than attempting to bare his teeth in a grin.
Media wolverines who thought Dole was heartless also started painting him as a phony. They couldn’t just respect a war hero for being a grownup who sucked up his feelings and believed in self-reliance. So, conservatives may as well be the way they’re going to be portrayed, anyway: if you can’t beat the stereotype, join it.
The last Republican to capture the Oval Office knew that he should go ahead and let the media draw devil horns on his photos. Despite his aforementioned thoroughly checkered record, Bush II didn’t attempt to dissuade anyone who claimed he made Barry Goldwater look like Lyndon Johnson. The right-wing brute who somehow dramatically increased spending realized that enough voters liked what the media despised that there was no reason to tamper with their caricature.
The dinosaur press is going to treat anyone from the Party of Lincoln as a vile fascist even if he takes public transportation to a news conference in which he announces he’ll use money taken from the rich to turn nuclear weapon launch sites into wind farms. The difference is that Republicans who attempt to soften their edges alienate both conservatives and independents—who won’t enthusiastically back a candidate with a spine made of cooked pasta.
With a race that will be a choice between a leftist and a right-winger who in many or most ways isn’t any such thing, the Republican may as well try to offer a fundamental contrast. His acting like a genuine dark-souled, bullion-hoarding Reaganite will irritate the press, which is no different from the result of sucking up to the mainstream buffoons. The prospective candidate may as well hope that there are more conservatives willing to vote for him than journalists.
Anthony Bialy is a writer and Red Eye conservative in New York City. He tweets at http://twitter.com/AnthonyBialy.