Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Flashback Tuesday: Remember When Republicans Stayed On-Message?

From the Plumline:

RNC chair Michael Steele, guest-hosting on Bill Bennett’s radio show early this morning, repeatedly distanced himself from Republicans and conservatives who have been harshly attacking Sonia Sotomayor, saying the assault risked damaging the party.

Steele also appeared to suggest that such attacks were a non-starter because the liberal media, and MSNBC in particular, would use them to damage the GOP.

In what seemed like an effort to distance the party from claims that Sotomayor is “racist” and an “Affirmative Action” pick, Steele repeatedly said that Republicans should be hailing the historic nature of Obama’s pick.

“I’m excited that a Hispanic woman is in this position,” Steele said. He added that instead of “slammin’ and rammin’” on Sotomayor, Republicans should “acknowledge” the “historic aspect” of the pick and make a “cogent, articulate argument” against her for purely substantive reasons.

Steele warned that because of the attacks, “we get painted as a party that’s against the first Hispanic woman” picked for the Supreme Court.

“We don’t need to play this the way the Democrats have played it in the past,” Steele said, adding that Republicans can’t do this because they don’t have the “liberal media” on their side, the way Dems did. Said Steele: “MSNBC will rip everything we have to say up into shreds.”

Steele didn’t mention Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, the two leading proponents of the racially-loaded attacks on Sotomayor. It’s a reminder of Steele’s predicament: He knows how badly these attacks are damaging the party and how neatly they play into the hands of Dems, but he can’t call out the leading figures launching those attacks, because that risks infuriating the base and feeding the meme that the GOP is hopelessly divided.

The GOP is similar to Philip Morris: both sell a poisonous product to a dying base.


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