Thu Jan 17, 2013, 03:51 PM
question everything (29,017 posts)
Where Is the GOP's Jay Carney?
From the WSJ by Daniel Henninger
The day after President Obama's press conference this week on the debt ceiling—in which he repudiated talks with Republicans and denounced them as not wanting to help "kids in poverty" get "enough to eat"—there were news accounts of the event atop the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The New York Times front page bannered a 4-by-7 inch photograph of Mr. Obama, beaming beneath a White House chandelier. The Republicans' congressional leadership and Mr. Obama's nominal opponents, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, floated deep down in the stories in thin paragraphs, like presidential pilot fish.
Media bias? No, media reality.
The whole wide world is living in an age of always-on messaging, and the Republican Party is living in the age of Morse code. It isn't that no one is listening to the GOP. There is nothing to hear. Smarting from defeat by Barack Obama's made-in-Silicon-Valley messaging network, congressional Republicans in Washington are getting tutorials to bring them into a Twitterized world. I have a simpler idea: First join the 20th-century communication revolution by creating an office of chief party spokesman. One for the House and one for the Senate.
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have been trying to serve both functions—leader and spokesman. It can't work. I can think of virtually no other walk of life other than Congress in which the leaders of organizations assume the job of stating their institution's position on everything. Cabinet secretaries, CEOs, generals, university presidents, cardinals—nobody does that anymore. A leader speaks when the stakes or moment require it.
The best (R) members are becoming frustrated at the messaging vacuum, and some are moving to fill the void. Marco Rubio comes to mind, and more power to him given the nonexistent alternative. But others will follow, creating a GOP tower of Babel. The TV networks know they can dial up a Lindsey Graham to blow a hole Sunday morning in any leadership effort at a unified message. It will get worse, and the near-term consequence of getting worse is being out of power.
(Daniel Henninger is Deputy Editorial Page Director of the Wall Street Journal and a Fox News contributor)
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