Our political Quote of the Day comes from former Bush speechwriter David Frum who on “Morning Joe” said aloud what many moderates, Democrats, independents and exiled RINOS (moderate Republicans) have said for the years: conservative Republicans and you can include in that also conservative leaning non-Republicans who had once been Democrats have been “fleeced, exploited and lied to” by the “conservative entertainment complex.”
The key quote:
The problem with the Republican leaders is that they’re cowards, not that they’re fundamentally mistaken. The real locus of the problem is the Republican activist base and the Republican donor base. They went apocalyptic over the past four years, and that was exploited by a lot of people in the conservative world. I won’t soon forget the lupine smile that played over the head of one major conservative institution when he told me that our donors think the apocalypse has arrived, that Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex.
Much of the attention to his quote is on the words “fleeced, exploited and lied to” but I’d argue to note that it’s the “conservative ENTERTAINMENT” complex because American politics now resembles professional wrestling. Everyone except the naive and small kids knew pro wrestling’s moves were fake and that passions emoted by the “hero” and “villain” wrestlers were ramped up for the audience. The conservative entertainment complex ramps up, captures, and accentuates resentments, fears and some authentic criticism, then magnifys it and uses it to a)get donations b)sell products such as books and speaking engagements, c)get big readership d)get big ratings. It’s garnering and delivering audience share to advertisers.
What’s tragic here is this view of reality based on cherry picking aimed at getting people to buy, donate or return again and again came smack into the wall of reality on Tuesday for many who genuinely placed their faith in these pundits, groups, commentators and prominent political analysts. By all accounts now — and many accounts are coming out — defeated Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was truly — literally, no-joke, not-kidding-ya — “shell-shocked” by his defeat due to what what the pollsters and consultants who he was paying huge bucks to were telling him. When he realized he lost, he and wife Ann were absolutely stunned. Romney had reportedly set up a fireworks victory celebration and only had written an acceptance speech. If all those people taking huge sums of money from him, conservative columnists who also trusted the conservative entertainment complex, Fox News told him he was going to win big, then it must be so.
The conservative entertainment complex had morphed into one, big Dick Morris.
The conservative news complex seemingly had shifted from being complex favoring one political side and seeking to counterbalance long-perceived liberal media bias to a whole industry promoting wishful thinking — presenting inaccuracy and falsehood as fact. And people bought it — literally bought it by becoming part of a demographic sold to advertisers or donating to groups that didn’t give them all the facts.
Ignoring facts or stating something not true as a fact can work as a strategy.
Until it doesn’t.
Tuesday it didn’t.
FOOTNOTE: Two additional things related to what Frum said:
1. I agree that if he had been allowed to be The Moderate Mitt Romney could have been a good President. But the stew was cooked by the second year of Romney’s term of Governor when — as the book “The Real Romney” notes — he jettisoned many of his positions abruptly as he began to gear up to run for President. The question always remained if he’d have the backbone if he got into the White House and wanted to be re-elected to problem solve in a way that wasn’t to pander to the GOP’s far right, whose support he wooed and won.
2. To restate something important: I heard from SEVERAL people over the past 14 months about how charming Romney was in person. I did 10 appearances as a talking independent head for CNN in 2010 and 2011. At three of the studios when I asked techs who they met they said Mitt Romney, who it turned out was one of their favorites: he was a really nice buy, they said, laid back and drove his own car to the studio. This Romney never surfaced during the campaign or the debates.