“This is the fallacy of Trump Republicanism writ large,” GOP strategist and Trump critic Rick Wilson remarks. “A con artist, reality TV clown, and scenery-chewing blowhard can get away with this. Rank-and-file Republicans will still have to answer to their constituents for a year of wheel-spinning as their president’s daily rage-tweeting, witch-hunting, and lunacy leads them down the broad road to political hell.”
Moreover, there could hardly be a worse example of “Don’t think about pink elephants” psychology. The GOP’s biggest problem is that it’s accomplished so little. (The House cannot even claim Neil M. Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as its own.) Republicans have done nothing on health care or infrastructure. Tax reform has been put off again and again; smart money would say nothing significant gets done on that front either. The wall hasn’t been built. It’s not the media that has prevented them from preparation to raise the debt ceiling or from completion of a budget. Listen, when you’re under assault for getting nothing done it’s bad form to say, “Yeah, but not our fault!”
“No one in any relationship likes a needy whiner,” observes GOP veteran operative and former adviser to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign, John Weaver. “Goes for potential spouses and for voters. They need to grow up, get off the playground and actually accomplish something for America.”
With regard to the new website, it is hard to figure out to whom this stuff is meant to appeal. Trump’s base already hates the media, but voted for Trump because he promised to put them in their place. If Trump is just another weak victim of elite media — like all the other Republicans whom they have blamed for not winning the presidency — what good is he?
Moreover, by complaining about what the press hasn’t covered, Republicans are failing to play their strongest card — the general state of the economy. Democrats will rightly argue this is the economy Trump inherited, but the GOP at least has an argument that Trump’s pro-business tilt and deregulation have pumped up the stock market and induced some optimism. Instead, they are down in the dumps because CNN isn’t cheering their success.
Thinking ahead to the 2018 midterms, this tactic surely doesn’t set the stage for a compelling message or argument for reelecting GOP majorities. “Out-snookered again by cable TV,” is not going to cut it with voters who see infighting, lack of a coherent message, a dearth of smart policy ideas and no inspiring leadership. As they continue to complain about the media (despite their advantage in virtually controlling Fox News and talk radio coverage) Republicans avoid the harder questions: What is their health-care solution? How do they justify tax cuts for the rich? Where are the manufacturing jobs in the Midwest they promised?
Democrats might want to seize on this latest GOP ploy as an admission of failure. The biggest problem for Republicans has been their failure to deliver on exaggerated, non-fact based promises. Do they really want to fight the 2018 election on “Why was it the GOP failed?” Democrats, who have been pilloried for being inept and insufficiently tough themselves, have the chance to turn the tables on the GOP and shame them for whining about press coverage. As Harry S. Truman said, if Republicans can’t stand the heat . . . . you know the rest.