Tuesday, August 19, 2008

REPACKAGING. I've had a laugh or two with Reihan Salam's and Ross Douthat's Grand New Party, but I haven't read it. Thankfully Patrick Ruffini of the forward-looking The Next Right has condensed it for me:
Want cheaper energy? Drill now, expand refinery capacity, go nuclear, and diversify into renewables...

Want cheaper consumer products? Fight protectionism and forced unionism.

Want cheaper food? Get rid of ethanol subsidies.

Want cheaper health insurance? Get rid of irrational regulations and frivolous lawsuits, and let people buy health insurance across state lines...

Want cheaper government? Cut spending.

Want cheaper tax bills? This is self-explanatory.
Ruffini then took the words right out of my mouth: "Most of this is not new. " But in his explanation he actually does come up with something fresh and different: "Republicans have largely been unable to capitalize on wanting things to cost less because the country was relatively prosperous and inflation has not been a real concern for a generation. With the country now facing tangible inflation in the food and fuel sectors, an affordability agenda for the working class is now much more salient."

It had been my impression that Republicans avoided using affordability as a come-on because, since Reagan days, they have showcased a hyperactive stock market, fueled by enormous corporate profits unwinnowed by taxes, as proof of their superior government stewardship. Gushers of cash and credit were the wind beneath their wings. Now that the bottom is falling out of that racket, Ruffini wants to position them as efficiency experts, using the same not-new philosophy and tactics as they had in the go-go era. It's as if a faith healer, having exhausted the credulity of his client, suddenly announced that he is also a trained surgeon.

The resemblance of modern politics to marketing is long established, but you rarely see it as plainly as herein:
In 2008, the recession is all about consumers -- be they consumers at the pump, homeowners, or at the grocery store. The recession is hitting all of us a little (rather than just some of us a lot, through lost jobs). This makes it psychologically more damaging, but also more open to a free market populist agenda centered around lower prices for goods in the private economy.

If we can get out from under the dead weight that is 28% Presidential approval, the economic issue environment can be turned against the progressives.
They'd better hope that not many people are watching "Mad Men." This reeks of the glad hand, seeking opportunity in crisis. I would say God go with them if they were not so obviously resistant to changing the formula along with the ad campaign.

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