I woke up last night around 11:30 or so, and decided to stay up and watch some news. I can’t tell why I decided to tune to Hannity and Colmes (I thought I had an S-chip that prohibited it) but boy am I glad I did. They were interviewing Dr. Frank Luntz, who is arguably the smartest guy on the planet on the subject of polls, focus groups, and political language. Love him or hate him, (mostly, I’ve learned to fear him) he has had an enormous impact on modern politics. I Tivo-ed it, and found myself scribbling notes on this exchange:
Hannity: “is this change vs experience debate different in a Primary than in a General Election?”
Luntz: “Yes. Because the Democrat’s vision for change is very futuristic, it involves healthcare, and getting our troops out of Iraq. having less waste in Government. On the republican side, its about going back to Ronald Reagan, rather than forward.”
Hannity: To some extent I guess, Republicans brought alot of this on themselves, by abandoning some of their core principles, they haven’t built that fence, they have been spending more than they are taking in, and have been seen as Democrat-Lite for a long long time. Is there any indication at all that they have gotten the message, that they have to go back to their conservative roots? (emphasis mine)
Luntz: Bluntly? No. (This caught both me and Hannity off guard. I laughed so loud I scared the dog and woke up the kids, but I swear I rewound it several times to see that look on Hannity’s face)
Luntz goes on to explain that the Democrats have an advantage in the Fall, because Independents are shifting over to the Democratic party right now. which prompted this from our boy:
Hannity: “So, do Independents want their taxes up, do they want Retreat and Defeat™ in Iraq? Do they really want socialized medicine, and Govt-based healthcare?”
Luntz: “Well, what they want is accountability, but they aren’t getting it from the Republicans. ”
Hannity: “Don’t they want specificity? Universal Healthcare might make a good bumper sticker, or be an effective slogan, but do they really think the Government is capable of providing it?”
**************The Money Shot*******************
Luntz: What they see, is that they are not capable of providing it. At the end of the week, they don’t have enough money for the things they need. They need help from the Government, and they see the Republicans as having a tin ear to them.
Powerful stuff, that. Dr. Luntz credits his success to his ability to listen to voters. If he is a partisan, most people will tell you he aligns himself with Republicans. But last night’s exchange between Hannity and Luntz was a perfect example of what I believe is a problem with politicians on both sides, though I would argue that it is epidemic on the Right side of the aisle. There he was, a man with the answers, a man with an impressive track record with respect to defining the voter’s mood, telling Hannity what he knows. Instead of listening, Hannity instinctively tried to spin the info into a partisan argument, and Luntz was having none of it.
I’ve been saying for quite some time that though the war was undoubtedly a factor that affected the Mid Terms, I believe it was the Republican response to Katrina that ultimately tipped the scales. This happened in our own backyard, and to people that clearly did not possess the means to help themselves, and the administration ate, sang, and shopped while New Orleans drowned. Even now, there is little evidence that compassion played any role at all in the administration’s late response, and I have yet to see a Republican candidate bring it up as an example of something we would never see from their White House. That doesn’t just strike me as tone deaf, it strikes me as completely deaf.