10 May 2014

Reince Preibus: Bold as Brass

In 2012, the Republican nomination process was wide-open.  There were 20 debates of varying size and theme, and they put some of the fringe candidates into the spotlight, and gave them their moment to shine.  Candidates like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain all took their turn leading the race at one point or another, even if their "lead" sometimes amounted to two weeks at the top of horse-race polls.  Seriously, think back and marvel: there was a time when Michele Bachmann was at the top of the pile (albeit just because she gambled nearly every dollar on winning the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa).

The large number of debates forced the Inevitable Romney to respond to absurd statements and simplistic positions, like Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan.  Romney had to be kind and unflappable and electable, over and over and over, even as he had to endure being everyone's target.  For months, it was a game of conservatives versus Romney, and it took its toll.

Several important states, moreover, didn't hold actual primaries.  They held conventions, which almost inevitably turn out more extreme results.  Only committed conservatives took the trouble to shuffle awkwardly into groups at their state conventions, which is Rick Santorum actually won Iowa, Mississippi, and Alabama.

So for the upcoming presidential election in 2016, RNC Chairman Reince Preibus and the rest of the GOP establishment has been working hard to make sure there won't be a repeat of this same circus.  They're shortening the whole primary cycle, so it won't drag out, they're cutting the number of debates in half and ensuring only friendly moderators, and they're encouraging states to use primaries instead of conventions.

This process means that the resulting nominee will not have to take as much heat from the most conservative Republicans.  There won't be as much opportunity for the less-known and more extreme candidates to drag the anointed nominee into embarrassing situations, the few debates will minimize the instances of a level playing field, and the reduced conventions will keep extremists from winning many votes.  The whole thing is designed to shut out folks like Herman Cain, who hammered the eventual nominee with craziness.

Naturally, this isn't going to fly with the conservative activists who once enthusiastically supported the wingnuts... is it?

If Reince Preibus has his way, it is.  He's actually framing the whole thing as a way to make the process more conservative, posting on RedState with one of the boldest pack of lies I've ever seen someone lay down in public.  By focusing almost exclusively on the moderators in the debates, who were the subject of universal derision in the GOP, Preibus makes the case for why he is on the side of conservatives.
We need more conservatives involved in the debate process—most importantly, in the moderator’s chair.
That’s why the RNC took action this week to take ownership of the primary debates for 2016. Our candidates deserve a fair hearing. Our voters deserve a real debate. And the liberal media doesn’t deserve to be in the driver’s seat.
We need a debate process that helps to grow our party and doesn’t weaken our eventual nominee—whoever that person is.
Today, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting in Memphis, the RNC took the first steps toward making sure grassroots conservatives have a greater voice in the presidential primary debate process. By passing new rules governing debates, the days when the mainstream media was in charge are gone.
Amazing.  And yet so far, they really seem to be swallowing it.  Comments and discussion all seem to be centering on how this is too little and too late, or on Candy Crowley.

It's hard to believe, but he actually might slip this one past.  Is it possible that the gatekeepers of places like RedState were, themselves, a little mortified at the caliber of candidate that the right-wing actually kept choosing in 2012?  That they're keeping quiet because the 2012 circus embarrassed them, too, even if they can't say so publicly?

Surely not.

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