Emmer Guarantees More of What Made the GOP What It Is

NEW SLAUGHTERIt was a tough enough week for our fringy conservative friends even before Tom Emmer decided to leave talk radio and make a run for Congress.

I saw Emmer up close only once during his dare I say “clumsy”, (but nearly successful), run for Governor. It was at a Sixth District rabble-rouser at some sports bar up in Big Lake in late 2009. The assembled faithful had mainly come to see Michele Bachmann, so Emmer and fellow candidate Marty Seifert (and ex-House Speaker Kurt Zellers) were merely the warm-up acts.

This was the event where Zellers warned the choir that if Obama had his Kenyan/muslim/European/Socialist way with high-speed trains they (the audience of farmers, small town businessmen and spooky apocalyptics mumbling about “righteous reckonings”) would be “astonished” by the flood of welfare cases pouring into Minnesota from Chicago. To diagram the inference (which was lost on no one): Spendthrift black guy in White House provides express train service for a lot of high-crime, low-cash types who don’t look much like anyone in the Sixth District to ride up and squat in Minnesota.

And that was one of the classier moments of the evening. (I was eventually kicked out by the sports bar owner, despite having paid the $10 to get in.)

What Emmer guarantees is another competition to see who can out-crazy the other for the hearts and alleged minds of the Sixth District’s rabid, caucus-going base. To be sure, if you’re him, it’s worth saying whatever it takes. Because the winner, almost certainly a Republican, unless Bud Grant or Ron Schara (or Raven the dog) decides to play Democrat and run for office, is guaranteed a sweet and easy ten-year run, at minimum. Do the math: $140, 000 a year plus federal pension. For Emmer it sure beats a Clear Channel talk radio contract. (Believe me, I know).

So … prepare yourself for a fresh outbreak of grim, hellfire warnings of “socialist havoc”, “government controlled health care”, “godless liberalism” and “reckless government spending”.

That last one is always fraught with irony, since Emmer is another one of these local Republicans who seems to have a very hard time conserving their own money. (How do you borrow $1.6 million against a house you bought for $425,000? Only a fiscally responsible quasi-Libertarian knows for sure. )

But as I say, Emmer’s return comes at the end of a tough news week for the Grand Old Party, which I would have thought would be all about cleaning up its act from the mess it made last fall.

In order of embarrassments we had:  The Lou Dobbs/FoxNews sausage fest conversation about that study showing 40% of women are the breadwinner in American households with children. Lou and the boys couldn’t paint a darker picture of cultural collapse. Clearly, gals out there picking up a bigger paycheck than their boy toy (if they have one) is a descending peril along the lines of a sun-blotting swarm of pecker-picking turkey vultures. The classic among them was blogger Erick Erickson — a bona fide voice of influence to the literate among the Sixth District base.

Said Erickson, who is also a talk radio host:  “I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.”

This set off an internal kerfuffle lead by FoxNews’ main female personalities Megyn Kelly and Greta van Susteren, both of whom were, like Captain Renault, “shocked, shocked” that 1950s-style troglodyte sexism was alive and walking the corridors of Roger Ailes’ and Rupert Murdoch’s FoxNews. (All you could do was roll your eyes at their “indignation”, which really was poorly disguised embarrassment at “the boys” being so crass and obvious about their innate sexism, thereby forcing the women to say something.)

Finally, (and by that I mean before Emmer), we had the really kind of astonishing report from … the frickin’ … College Republican National Committee … describing the party as it is today — led by talk radio jocks, FoxNews pundits, self-aggrandizing mega-church pastors and palpably sociopathic bloggers — as, “closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.” (At least that’s how young “winnable” voters described the party.)

Rolling Stone summarized nine other points in the report. Including these tough-to-dispute gems:

3. “For the GOP, being thought of as closed-minded is hardly a good thing. But if the GOP is thought of as the ‘stupid party,’ it may as well be the kiss of death.”

5. “An outright majority of young people still think those Republican policies are to blame [for the Great Recession] – hardly an encouraging finding.”

8. “Perhaps most troubling for Republicans is the finding from the March 2013 CRNC survey that showed 54% of young voters saying ‘taxes should go up on the wealthy.'”
The point to all this is entirely obvious, I guess.
Namely, if someone beats Tom Emmer to the bile-marinated heart of the Sixth District it will be by confirming every appalling, out-of-touch, discredited thing young people (by and large), immigrants, minorities and the mooching 47% find reprehensible about the Republican party … today.
Worse, the party’s economic message, supposedly its intellectual anchor amid storms over “legitimate rape”, working mothers and blocking gun and immigration reform, is clearly a non-starter among a majority of younger voters. And I’m guessing most of them aren’t even aware of the collapse of the vaunted Reinhart-Rogoff theory, the “intellectual foundation” for the Darwinian economic ideas of Paul Ryan, the party’s designated “brain guy”.
In other words, to beat every other Republican for the Sixth District nomination, the winner is going to have to say and be everything that has the party on the brink of collapse … outside the Sixth.

Memo to Minnesota Republican Candidates

He spooned with John McCain in 2008, and promised that Minnesota was a purple state that a Republican could win with the help of his considerable home state clout. McCain lost Minnesota by 10 points.

Then, the celebrated Minnesota pol endorsed Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, and Emmer used that golden endorsement to become one of the few Republicans to lose, to a decidedly non-charismatic DFL opponent, amidst a tidal wave of 2010 GOP victories.

He ran for President in 2011. Polls showed Minnesota’s favorite son getting beat in his home state by President Obama, despite the fact that the incumbent President was politically weakened by a sluggish economy.

After abandoning his somnolent presidential run polling in single digits, he next laid his North Star scepter on the favorite in the race, Mitt Romney. In Minnesota last night, Romney lost, by 28 points. The well-funded frontrunner ran against a perennial bottom feeder running on a platform of legalizing meth and hookers, in a Republican caucus process dominated by social conservatives. And with Tim Pawlenty leading the way, Romney got pasted.

Minnesota Republicans, trust me on this. If former Governor Tim Pawlenty comes offering to endorse you for anything in Minnesota – dog catcher, class president, Water Buffalo Lodge President, Klondike Kate contest — run. Run very fast.

– Loveland

LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign

Rowdy friend and regular visitor Kelly Groehler’s new guidebook to using social media in political campaigns, LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign (in Politics, Business or Otherwise), is hot off the digital presses. Available now in paperback but later this month as an e-book, it’s dedicated to the premise that any candidate, cause or organization that ignores social media today does so at his/hers/its own peril.

And, P.S., relying on your son or daughter to run your social media campaign just ain’t gonna’ cut it.

So Groehler, while a 2010-2011 Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joined three other researchers in studying the use of social media in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial race. Their conclusions drive a set of seven rules and 10 basic steps in how to begin using social media in your own campaign.

Independent candidate Tom Horner and campaign staffers for Republican candidate Tom Emmer and Democratic governor Mark Dayton provided candid background information to Groehler and her fellow researchers: Dave Ladd, president of RDL & Associates strategic consulting firm; Greg Swanholm, senior constituent advocate for U. S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Bass Zanjani, deputy district director for U. S. Congressman Keith Ellison.

The key word in the work’s title, LIKE, reminds us that today’s internet stars user-generated content; positive response to that content can be your best campaign message precisely because it is not seen as political propaganda or one-way messaging. However, the flip of this proposition is equally as powerful: unflattering tweets, Facebook messages or YouTube videos can drive a negative force from which a candidate never recovers (think of the aptly-named Anthony Wiener).

LIKE is designed for the novice user of social media and thus, can begin the discussion of why social media matter, what investment of time and resources they will take (no, they’re not “free”) and where to begin in planning an effective template that incorporates social media with traditional media channels.

And the most important take-away of LIKE should be this: campaigns today really are conversations. They involve give and take, multiplied by 800 million members of Facebook.

Follow the LIKE effort on Twitter @LIKESEVEN10.

Ham(line) Handed PR

Kudos to Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin for by far the best coverage of last week’s dispute about former GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer’s bid to become a professor at Hamline University.

In last week’s coverage, Emmer was claiming he had an informal handshake agreement, though not a contractual agreement, to teach at Hamline. Emmer maintained that Hamline later reneged under pressure from liberal faculty members.

From last week’s coverage, I couldn’t tell if Emmer was exagerating the firmness of the handshake agreement he and Hamline had actually reached. But in his Sunday column, Tevlin uncovered several Emmer emails that show the claimed Emmer-Hamline handshake was bonecrunchingly firm. There are unambiguous statements from Hamline leaders in those emails, such as “Tom Emmer is going to teach it.”

Tevlin did the by far best reporting on this issue, and he also did the best opining:

I have no idea if Emmer would be a good teacher. He’s certainly not known as an intellectual or deep thinker, but a lot of colleges are convalescent homes for retired or failed Democrats, so he’s certainly not a stretch. I’m guessing he’d give a lot of students the opportunity to hone their arguments, and there’s value in that. My two best professors in political science were a socialist and the then-head of the GOP. They both made me think, and that’s what education is about. Hamline could have handled this worse, but I’m not sure how.

Hamline didn’t break a contract, but it did reveal itself to be narrow minded. They should have let Emmer teach.

– Loveland