Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 3, 2012
El Rushbo often says you can tell who The Left fears the most by looking at who they attack with the most ferocity. Look at the reaction to John McCain's unveiling of Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. Palin was a successful grassroots leader, with a rapidly growing national following, who had been elected governor of the State of Alaska. Leftists and their media allies saw the excitement she generated in "flyover country" and went into panic mode. They HAD to discredit this woman QUICK.
SNL mocked her accent. She talks "funny", so she must be an idiot — Just like George W. Bush. You know, THAT guy from Texas with the degrees from Harvard and Yale. Bill Clinton talks "funny" too, but he's OK because (1) he agrees with us and (2) he's married to our hero Butch Rodham.
The media went after the church Palin attended with her family. Of course, they had no time for Barry Obama's church. You know, the one with the preacher who said moderate and rational things like "G– D— America."
According to the media and their leftist allies, Palin was an idiot just like Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan, and W. Of course, they showed little concern about Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) who seriously fretted that increasing our military presence in Guam might cause the island to "tip over and capsize."
Fast forward to 2012 and the North Carolina elections. Dan Forest, a conservative rookie candidate, runs a hard-fought grassroots campaign to get elected lieutenant governor. During his GOP runoff with establishment favorite Tony Gurley, the term "religious kook" spread through establishment gossip circles at a rapid-fire rate. Forest won the runoff and entered into the general election against SEIU-backed Democrat Linda Coleman. The SEIU's pro-Coleman advertising barrage attempted to make the word "extreme" Forest's middle name. Don't believe me? Run a Google search.
SEIU's past president Andy Stern has spoken lovingly about Marxism-Leninism. SEIU thugs have threatened and assaulted Tea Party activists across the country. Why isn't Coleman — backed by these people — called "extreme"?
Pat McCrory — running far ahead of his Democrat opponent — did next to nothing to aid his ticketmate Forest. Forest spent a lot of time tagging along behind McCrory and hoping for a shout-out from the podium at McCrory campaign events.
You can look at the November 6 totals to see that A LOT of folks who voted for Pat McCrory didn't do the same for Forest. (NCGOP's PR efforts made you think Pat McCrory, Mitt Romney, Richard Hudson, David Rouzer, and Chad Barefoot were the only Republicans on the ballot.)
The silence from the GOP establishment was also deafening post-election when Coleman and her team were publicly mulling a recount. After the recount effort faded, and the reality of a Lt. Gov. Dan Forest began to set it, Chris Fitzsimon, Rob Schofield and their team kicked into gear with rational, even handed analysis like "Just How Extreme is North Carolina's new Lt. Governor?"
What has Fitzsimon and Schofield so concerned? Apparently it's Forest's ties to something called "The Faith Driven Consumer" and his presidency of what appears to be a men's Bible study group. They also show concern over his desire to abolish some state taxes and kill ObamaCare. Never mind that polls show Forest's line of thinking to be on the same side of a majority of North Carolinians. Chris and the boys worked hard against the marriage amendment to the state constitution, while Forest championed it. The amendment was approved by voters by a 2-1 margin. Fitzsimon & co.'s position was on the losing end of a 2-1 vote, and THEY are calling Forest "extreme."
One of my political mentors once said: "Make sure you define yourself to the public FIRST, because your opponents are out there ready and willing to do it for you."
The GOP establishment is concerned about Forest because (1) he has the potential to upstage their beloved Pat, and (2) he appeals to "the great unwashed" outside the Raleigh beltline and Charlotte city limits.
The Democrats and their media allies see him as a threat to (1) keep the executive mansion in GOP hands for eight years beyond Pat McCrory, (2) show folks that real conservatism isn't really all that scary, and (3) successfully climb the ladder to higher offices.
Team Forest needs to learn some lessons from the Sarah Palin experience. Their guy needs to step up and define himself as a serious, principled conservative leader. If Team Forest keeps proceeding as they are, they are opening up a large window of opportunity for Chris, Rob & the McClatchy gang in Charlotte and Raleigh.
We agree with Brant in his assessment of Dan Forest. And we also think Forest's message is the single most important thing the leaders of the NCGOP should be hearing right now. Here's why we believe that.
Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, we think, primarily because his handlers allowed Barack Obama's handlers to define Romney. They defined Romney as a "rich white guy" who could not relate to the average American's situation. It was the same image machine that succeeded in blaming George W. Bush for the economic catastrophe that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid dumped on America and in so doing let Obama off the hook to be elected with the highest unemployment extant in recent history. We have no doubt that historians will kill tons of trees writing about how they pulled that one off.
Of course, it is the same image machine that took a man totally and completely unqualified by training, experience, intellect and temperament to be President and got him elected both times, all-be-it narrowly both times. It was this image machine that produced "likeability" ratings that trumped the issue of whether voters actually want the kind of nation Barack Obama is intent on making America. Romney said many times that the election was about two distinctly different visions of America, but we have yet to find a single Zombie who voted for Barack Obama—most typically with a straight-party ticket—who can articulate the difference in the two visions the two candidates offered. They voted purely on the basis of image and what they believe will be the "best Santa Clause" for them, as Rush put it.
The point is simple. American politics at the national level is today defined not by substantive issues but by image. We will predict that this will be seen played out in the budget negotiations now in full swing in Washington. Obama has already begun to cast Republicans as "scrooges" intent on killing Santa. And he will succeed. He will win simply because the GOP does not understand this image thing and how to make it work for them, much less keeping it from working against them.
Republicans are running campaigns by the rules of the 1980's. Obama's Machine is running a perpetual campaign rooted in using the Elite Media and social media to paint anyone who opposes any policy they espouse as ogres. This can be seen in Obama casting a $16 trillion deficit as the fault of "the rich not paying their fair share."
A cornerstone of the Obama Image Machine is to demonize their opponents. They, as Brant points out, did this to Sarah Palin. They did it to Michele Bachman, and Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum etc. etc. Just consider what they did to Rick Perry. It was not their policies the Chicago Mafia attacked, it was the image of their opponents.
Republicans will never elect another president until they come to the realization that at this stage in our nation's history image is not only the most important thing in politics, it is the only thing to that part of the electorate that affords only a few minutes to deciding who they will vote for and against.
Interestingly, the opposite has been true in North Carolina. Pat McCrory, in all due respect, did not win the governorship because more people believed him more qualified or his policies better for the state, but rather because the image that has been created (accurately) of the North Carolina Democrats is that of corruption as epitomized by Mike Easley, Jim Black and Beverly Perdue. It will be so easy for Democrats to simply substitute McCrory, Tillis and Burger as "more of the same--cut from the same cloth" if the Republicans continue as the early signals indicate they are doing. But we'll have more to say about that later.
So Forest is the favorite target of the Democrat image machine in the state simply because they fear him so much. The most significant point about Dan Forest's election even Brant failed to mention is that Forest ran a TEA Party campaign. He won because of that. His standard campaign stump speech was pure TEA Party principles. And that is why he is so feared by the GOP Establishment. But we'll have more to say about that later also.
Dan Forest is not feared because of what he will do as Lt. Governor. Dan Forest is the most feared politician in North Carolina political circles because he is the best possibility for 2020 and maybe even sooner. And if he plays his cards right, he will be the leader of a New Republican Party in North Carolina. The current GOP Establishment obviously does not understand the "image thingy" any more than did Romney's handlers nor any more than they understand the TEA Party movement in this state.
The Democrats know this and they are just waiting for the GOP train wreck to crank up the Image Machine against the Establishment Repblicans. But first things first: They must wipe out Dan Forest before they do anything else. That's why they tried so hard to keep him from being elected to a relatively meaningless job in state government. They accurately sense his message is the greatest threat the Democrats face, not only in North Carolina but in America.