A Political Establishment Without Memory

One of the most entertaining events of this political cycle, and perhaps most frustrating for some, is the apparent missed lesson the 2010 cycle should have provided the GOP establishment. When I say establishment, I mean the veteran “experts,” the long time pundits, the 20 year delegates and the folks who have paid for a $25 chicken dinner every time an invite came. It’s nothing short of astonishing to watch them try and fight a movement that in 2010 showed it meant business.

Regardless of your views on Herman Cain as a candidate, you surely must admit the way the media and establishment hacks have reacted is laughable. That’s at first glance, though, and through a deeper look we see the establishment reaction, should it be successful in keeping true conservatives away from the nomination, will be downright dangerous.

First, the polling data. It doesn’t matter if you believe the national polling average is to be trusted. What matters is that traditionally (especially for the past two cycles) the national polling average has been used by media elites to determine who their perceived front-runner is. Here we are on Saturday, October 29th, 2011, and Herman Cain is at the top of the national average.

The RCP average takes data from Fox News, CBS News/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research and the Associated Press. Even Rasmussen, a poll that tends to sometimes favor big name establishment candidates, shows Herman Cain and Mitt Romney tied.

With this being the case, the fair assumption, based on polling data, is that Herman Cain is indeed the national Front-Runner. This isn’t up for dispute and should be obvious to any reporter who does his/her job from at least a half objective view.

But that isn’t what’s happening. Exhibit A:

On the Exact same day that it become news Herman Cain was the front-runner, a major Cleveland media hub ran the headline “Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney to rally Ohio GOP in Cincinnati area Tuesday.”

Via National Journal (Oct 28)

The longer he runs for president, the more doubts reputed Republican front-runner Mitt Romney seems to have about the science behind global climate change.

Ironically, CBS News, the same company that just days before ran poll numbers showing Herman Cain dominating the field, ran the exact same story as the National Journal.

A blogger for The Hill brings up a good point in his post about Herman Cain, but ends the post with this gem. (Oct 28)

So here’s my question: Does Herman Cain need Mitt Romney? It’s quite possible that he’d lose much of his appeal if Romney weren’t the front-runner.

US News has a post up about Michele Bachmann’s candidacy. In that post the author says the following…

With former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney settled in the front-runner spot, businessman Herman Cain surging in the polls, and Perry fighting for a comeback, there is little room for Bachmann to get back into the top tier, especially as more of her staff flees her campaign.

In a post that will provoke a chuckle, Fox News contradicts itself in the first sentence while explaining its own poll results.

Herman Cain takes the lead in the Republican presidential nomination contest as GOP voters continue to deny Mitt Romney clear front-runner status.

That’s interesting. You release a poll showing Herman Cain to be the front-runner, then suggest it only weakens Mitt Romney’s front-runner status?

It’s clear the only way the media will ever admit that Herman Cain is the front-runner is if Herman Cain changes his name to Mitt Romney.

As far as the establishment pundits and experts go… many are at a complete loss as to what’s going on. As my friend Robert Stacy McCain writes for American Spectator, even Nate Silver, often regarded as a journalist in a class of his own as far as political analysis goes, is scratching his head.

One expert who isn’t afraid to admit the difficulty of figuring the odds on Cain is Nate Silver, wizard of political statistics at the New York Times. Examining the gap between the weak “fundamentals” of Cain’s campaign and his high poll numbers, Silver concluded that “there is either something fundamentally unusual about this year’s Republican nomination process, or perhaps that some sort of ‘new normal’ has been established and that the old rules of how you win a nomination no longer carry as much weight.” And as far as trying to predict the chances of Cain’s future success, Silver threw up his hands: “Not only do I not know how I would go about estimating the likelihood that Mr. Cain will win the Republican nomination – I’m not sure that there is a good way to do so at all.” In other words, Cain’s success represents a journey into uncharted political waters, like an ancient explorer sailing off toward the part of the map where the legend reads, “Here Be Dragons.”

Nate Silver is admitting something most GOP elitists refuse to acknowledge, this is uncharted territory and no one fully understands the gravity of the scenario. Unfortunately, some of those GOP elitists, Karl Rove for example, have shoveled incredible damage into the GOP primary by inserting themselves into the equation when they have no idea what they’re talking about. Robert Stacy McCain goes on.

Karl Rove went on the Fox News “America’s Newsroom” show Monday morning to explain that recent gaffes by Herman Cain have created the perception that the Atlanta businessman is “not up to the task” as a Republican presidential candidate. Rove used a whiteboard to illustrate his verdict on Cain’s inadequacy, citing polls as evidence that the Tea Party-backed candidate had “peaked” Oct. 6-10 and telling host Martha MacCallum that the impression created by Cain’s gaffes was “really deadly.”

Here is where Rove gets it wrong.

At this point, even the campaign’s “gaffes” seem to be helping rather than hurting Cain. Commentators poked fun at a YouTube video in which Cain’s chief of staff Mark Block declares, “Tomorrow is one day closer to the White House.… We’ve run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen, but then America’s never seen a candidate like Herman Cain. We need you to get involved because together, we can do this. We can take this country back.” The video ends with Block puffing on a cigarette, a gesture that caused eye-rolling reactions from critics and helped turn Block’s YouTube debut into a “viral” online sensation, with nearly a million views in the first week after it was posted. One Republican consultant remarked that cable TV news shows seemed more interested in discussing Block’s video than in talking about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s flat-tax proposal.

There is more to Rove’s damaging comments than meets the eye here. Where Karl Rove is out of line is that he doesn’t care about the movement surrounding the GOP primary. He doesn’t care that an energized majority is swelling up and ready to act for a true conservative champion. All Rove cares about is fighting a multi-hundred million dollar media war with Obama. All he sees is a money fight, and Mitt Romney provides him with mountains of cash to wage it with.

Like most political establishment hacks, Rove is old school. He’s operating as if it’s 2000 and a movement of conservatives isn’t real. And worse, he’s doing so on behalf of a candidate who is pro-gun control, pro-choice, and pro-government mandated healthcare.

In other words, Karl Rove and the rest of the establishment represent a danger to the future of our nation. They refuse to admit reality in the front-runner, they refuse to admit reality on how bad the economic scenario is, and they refuse to admit that extraordinary shifts in power are required to change it all.

Oddly, Karl Rove and his ilk in the “expert” class look at all of us and proclaim we’re un-realistic.

2008 should have taught this gang a harsh lesson. If you present the American public with a moderate like John McCain or Mitt Romney, you’re not going to get an energetic reaction. 2012 may be slightly different in that we have Obama to oppose, but we need enthusiasm to do it. We need a base that wakes up saying “what can I do for the candidate today?” We need a base that gets a fundraising email and says “I’ll donate now… not wait until next week.”

2010 should have been the biggest lesson of them all. The movement defeated countless establishment candidates and took a major chunk out of the existing power structure in Washington.

Now here we are in 2012, watching the political establishment fight against that same movement. Either they can’t remember what just happened, or they refuse to accept it as reality.

Remind me, who is being un-realistic?

Eric Odom