In my regular Tuesday post over at Pundit League yesterday, I likened the New England Patriots’ inability to tune out trash talk from Rex Ryan and the Jawin’ Jets to a candidate or political figure who gets distracted by menial attacks.
There’s a flip side to that coin, though, and the Washington Times’s Tony Blankley hit on it today: Republicans can aggressively pursue their agenda, even if their foothold in Washington is limited to the House majority. While some on the right fear a repeat of the 1995 government shutdown which turned public favor toward President Clinton, Blankley doesn’t expect history to repeat if the latest GOP majority refuses to fund the Obama agenda:
We lost that battle for three reasons: 1) because the shutdown was falsely but effectively framed in the public mind as motivated by the personal pique of the speaker and the desire of the GOP to “cut Medicare in order to give tax cuts to the rich,” 2) the issue of deficit spending and public debt was of much less concern to the public than it is now and 3) we were not able to deliver our interpretation of the issues directly to even our own supporters.
Back in 1995, there was no Fox News; there was no broadly used Internet; and conservative talk radio was not nearly as powerful as it is today. I had to try to get our message to the public through the filter of the mainstream media (New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.) at a time when it was in fact mainstream. They were in no mood to fairly represent the facts, and we got shellacked.
Blankley advises the GOP to lose their fear of PR wars because the battlefield has changed so much in 15 years. But he’s really advocating the same strategy the Jets used in the week leading up to the Patriots: be aggressive in messaging, and let the chips fall where they may.