One GOP strategist is asked by Politico about the effects of the Paris attacks on the presidential race. Whether he realizes it or not, he's partway to an explanation of why Donald Trump and Ben Carson have been leading the race for months:
Steve Schmidt, a veteran GOP strategist and senior adviser to John McCain's 2008 campaign, predicted the current dynamic [in the race] would remain unchanged so long as no one in the race -- experienced or unexperienced -- was leveling with the American people about the true costs to quell the threats abroad.
"Simply asserting 'I will destroy ISIS' absent any honesty with the American people of what is required to do that is platitudes," Schmidt said. For voters, he said, "There's no difference between an experienced politician offering platitudes and an inexperienced outsider offering platitudes."
That's closer to the truth than most Republicans get. On foreign policy and terrorism, nearly every Republican -- Establishment or outsider -- talks in Fox-ready (and in many cases Fox-crafted) simplistic soundbites. America must lead! Obama believes in "leading from behind"! Obama called ISIS the "JV team"! The president and the rest of the "Democrat" Party won't say "radical Islam" or "Islamic terrorism" or "Islamic extremism"!
But that's not just the way Republicans talk about terrorism. It's how they talk about everything. And that's been true for many years: Obama wants to take all your guns! Obama hates capitalism! Obama is deliberately trying to create a dependency culture in which everyone is hooked on "free stuff"! Black Lives Matter wants to kill cops! Climate change scientists are bought-and-paid-for hoaxsters with a sinister big-government agenda! America is being destroyed by political correctness!
And that's the real reason Trump and Carson are leading the Republican race. If, for years, the vast majority of your party's utterances have been finger-pointing bumper-sticker slogans, then of course your voters are going to be ready to embrace a wealthy rabble-rouser or a beloved holy fool who's incapable of anything beyond simple-minded that sort of demagoguery. Of course your voters aren't going to demand detailed, well-thought-out proposals based on expertise and experience. You've raise your electorate on a diet of nothing but red meat -- you can't expect them at election time to suddenly develop a taste for vegetables. Especially when even the members of your party who know how to prepare vegetables have long since stopped serving up anything but the meat.
But then Schmidt adds:
“The American people have been communicated to like children -- by both parties -- and with extreme dishonestly by the administration,” Schmidt said.
So even he can't help himself. Yeah, the voters are being infantilized, but you know what else? Obama sucks!
This is your problem, Republicans. And you're getting the leaders you deserve.
Crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog