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The first thing I need to say before getting into this post’s substance is that George Will is one of the brightest conservatives I’ve ever listened to. That’s why it was difficult for me to watch this video:

Here’s the transcript from the important part of Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: George, where do you think Cruz fits in the Republican presidential field? And what do you think are his realistic chances to win the nomination?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: We’ve seen this movie before, Chris. In 1964, Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, partly on the theory called conservatives in the woodwork, that there were enormous number of conserves who only offered candidate who ignored what Cruz calls the mushy middle, they’d come out of the woodwork and form a national majority. Well, Goldwater’s 27 million voters, of whom I was one, suffice to carry six states.

The question for Mr. Cruz and for anyone seeking the Republican nomination is this, given that 18 states and the District of Columbia with 242 electoral votes voted Democratic in six consecutive elections and if the Democratic nominee holds that base, he or she will spend the fall looking for 28 electoral votes and will find them. Given that, they have to ask the question, what red, what blue state are you going to flip specifically? Can Ted Cruz campaign effectively in one of those 18 states? Pennsylvania, how is he going to do piling up big majorities to carry the state in the suburban counties, Bucks, Montgomery, around Philadelphia? I’m skeptical.

First, let’s stipulate that every Republican faces the same obstacle as Sen. Cruz. Next, let’s stipulate that some are better equipped to flipping some of the states that Will is referring to. Third, let’s stipulate that Will has said the same thing about every other Republican potential presidential candidate with one exception. That exception is Chris Christie.

Will’s defeatist attitude, which I’m certain he’ll characterize as simply a statement of fact, isn’t worthy of a man of his intelligence. According to this map, Will is right that Republicans start at a distinct disadvantage:

That’s the extent, though, that I’m willing to concede. There are 538 electoral votes, which is why the winning candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. Starting with 242 electoral votes means that 296 electoral votes are still up for grabs or solidly in GOP-controlled states.

First, let’s look at solidly red states. The GOP candidate starts with a base of 200 electoral votes. Next, let’s look at purple states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada. Florida has 29 EVs, followed by Ohio with 18 EVs, Virginia with 13 EVs, Colorado with 9, Nevada and Iowa with 6 apiece, New Mexico with 5 and New Hampshire with 4 EVs.

If Sen. Rubio is on the ticket, either as the nominee or running mate, that definitely flips Florida’s 29 EVs and likely puts Nevada and Colorado in the GOP column. Just putting those states in the GOP column gives the GOP ticket 244 EVs. If Scott Walker is the GOP nominee and Rubio is his running mate, that likely puts Iowa and Wisconsin in the GOP column. That puts the GOP ticket at 260 EVs. That means Hillary has to win Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia.

At that point, if Republicans win either Virginia or Ohio, they’d retake the White House.

Is it mathematically challenging? Yes, for both parties.

That’s before factoring in the quality of campaigns the two sides run and events that are beyond the candidates’ control. If Republicans run a youthful, energetic, ideas-driven ticket, they won’t have to say a thing about Hillary looking fatigued. It’ll be that obvious. Further, if the Middle East continues being a disaster and Russia continues its expansionist ways, Hillary will have lots of problems because she’s joined at the hip with President Obama as the co-architects of that foreign policy.

If Mr. Will wants to continuously be a pessimist about the GOP ticket for 2016, that’s his right under the First Amendment that he writes so eloquently about. It just doesn’t mean he’s right. He should know that campaigns and events matter. Right now, Hillary is a terrible candidate and events both domestically and especially internationally favor Republicans.

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This morning’s biggest political headline is Ted Cruz’s announcement that he’s running for president. Right behind that headline, though, is this Washington Post article:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When Jim Ulmer came to see Scott Walker here last week, he was transfixed. “He’s the little engine that could,” Ulmer said, describing the Wisconsin governor who successfully battled labor unions and has rocketed to the front of the Republican presidential race. “He has guts,” said Ulmer, 52, Republican Party chairman in rural Orangeburg County. “The people of America are looking for another Ronald Reagan, someone we can believe in, someone who will keep freedom safe. Walker could be it.”

That’s the basis for the article’s headline. Still, that isn’t what should give the Bush campaign pause. This should:

Those who turned out in droves to size up Walker during two days of events here said his top rival, Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor and heir to a political dynasty, gives them pause. None mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a tea party favorite who will announce his candidacy Monday at Liberty University in Virginia.

This isn’t a prediction but it wouldn’t surprise me if Jeb Bush flopped. The media love Jeb Bush. They’re love that he isn’t willing to rule of raising taxes. They love the fact that he’s a fierce advocate for federal control of education, aka Common Core. Mostly, though, they love him for supporting the Democrats’ immigration bill.

That puts him out of step with Republicans.

It isn’t that Bush “gives them pause.” It’s that Republican activists don’t trust Jeb. They don’t trust Bush because he represents the loser wing of the Republican Party. There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Jeb Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. They don’t fight for conservatism. Their chief attribute is that they’re supposedly electable.

Contrast that with Scott Walker:

As they see it, he’s a fighter, tenacious and decisive. He fought the unions again and again, and he won each time. They see the 47-year-old governor as a truth-teller, a pure conservative and an energetic, fresh face, as the future.

“He represents everything I want in a president,” Joan Boyce, 61, a school cafeteria worker, said after seeing him speak at a barbecue dinner in Greenville. “He’s refreshing for a change. He feels honest to me; he really does. He doesn’t talk like a politician. He talks like a regular guy.”

Scott Walker has a substantial list of conservative accomplishments. People appreciate that. They don’t appreciate Gov. Bush’s attempt to sell conservatives down the river on important things like immigration and Common Core.

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Predictably, Rand Paul won the CPAC Straw Poll for the third straight year. That isn’t proof that Sen. Paul is a top tier candidate. It’s proof that he’s inherited his father’s supporters. By the time the South Carolina Primary rolls around, he’ll pretty much be an afterthought in the GOP presidential race. Here are the top 5 finishers:

Noticeably missing from the ranks of frontrunners is Chris Christie:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered a top-flight candidate since the 2012 presidential elections, finished last with 2.8 percent of the vote.

To put that in perspective, Christie finished behind such juggernauts as Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum.

The story, though, is Gov. Walker’s strong second-place finish. Nobody thought he’d dethrone Rand Paul as the straw poll winner. Finishing with 21% is impressive, though I can’t say it’s totally unexpected. Here’s what the Washington Times is reporting:

Mr. Walker saw the biggest surge in this year’s poll, rising from sixth place and 7 percent last year to reach 21.4 percent this year. That was nearly twice the 11.5 percent Mr. Cruz garnered, about the same as his showing last year.

This result is interesting:

When first and second choice preferences were combined, Mr. Paul and Mr. Walker were even closer, with 41.5 percent of respondents listing Mr. Paul as in their top two, and 40.8 percent listing Mr. Walker. Mr. Cruz and Mr. Carson trailed with little more than half that support.

Here’s another interesting tidbit of information:

It sounds like Jeb Bush’s supporters are taking CPAC pretty seriously this year. Emails provided to Slate show that backers of the former Florida governor are busing supporters from downtown Washington D.C. to CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, and organizing to get them day passes into the event.

One of the emails that went out this morning was from Fritz Brogan, a former advance man for then-President George W. Bush who (per the Washington Post) co-hosted a fundraiser for Jeb’s Right to Rise PAC earlier this month. A Bush insider confirmed to Slate that Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is helping organize the transportation.

“We strongly recommend arriving as early as possible to get a seat,” wrote Brogan in an email sent to undisclosed recipients. “Our ‘Early Rise’ team will be there at 7:30am onward helping reserve seats- if you want to join the early team, let me know.” Brogan wrote that there were still available seats on buses leaving from K Street and Georgetown at noon on Friday to get to the event in time for Bush’s talk.

Two things are important about this. First, Jeb’s team went all-in to impress at CPAC with the hope of doing better than expected. That didn’t happen. The other important thing about this is that there aren’t many people from K Street and Georgetown available to vote in the New Hampshire or South Carolina primaries. If this lackluster finish doesn’t give Team Jeb some gray hairs, then they aren’t paying attention.

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Charlie Cook’s latest article on the state of the GOP presidential race has more than a few flaws in it. He got this part right:

First there is the establishment bracket, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and possibly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney competing for that semifinal slot.

Despite the MSM’s ‘reporting’, this isn’t where the action is. It’s mostly a sideshow that’ll keep the DC pundits entertained. Think of this as the ‘vastly overrated’ part of the race.

Cook didn’t get this part right:

Then there is the conservative governor/former governor slot—with, potentially, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker competing, all seeking to be non-Washington and non-Congress candidates, but each with more conservative, or at least better conservative, credentials than Bush, Christie, or Romney.

John Kasich lost his conservative credentials over the weekend when he fought for Common Core. That’s a deal-buster with conservatives. It isn’t likely that Rick Snyder and Mike Pence will run so they can be ignored. That leaves us with Rick Perry and Scott Walker. That’s the real bracket. Let’s call this the conservatives with credentials bracket.

The MSM is writing off Rick Perry. That’s a major mistake. He’s a much more serious candidate this time than in 2012. He’s got a lengthy list of conservative reforms under his belt. He’s definitely anti-Washington. He’s definitely pro-border enforcement, which plays well with conservative activists. He’s signed tort reform, which has led to a major influx of doctors into Texas. While most of the nation worries about doctor shortages, that isn’t a worry in Texas.

That leaves Scott Walker in this bracket. Activists see him as the giant-killer who took on the public employee unions and beat them. Then the PEUs got upset with him and tried defeating him in a recall election. The PEUs took another thumping in 2012. They didn’t have their fill so they returned for another shot in 2014. Gov. Walker’s Act 10 reforms were so popular that Mary Burke, the Democrats’ candidate, didn’t even mention the subject.

That’s one of the brackets where the excitement will be.

Then there’s the youthful senators bracket. This bracket features Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. I don’t know that any of these candidates will advance to the finals but they’ll generate lots of excitement.

At the end of the day, I suspect that the finalists will be Walker and someone else. I’d be surprised if that someone else is Jeb Bush. Bush is definitely more formidable with the media than with activists.

Jim Geraghty’s evaluation of the GOP presidential candidates is fascinating. Rather than starting with the top tier candidates, let’s start by hearing what he said about the MSM’s top tier:

Jeb Bush: Sure, he’ll have the money, and he’ll have the name. But let’s not even get into the immigration, Common Core, business ties or family dynasty issues yet. Republican primary voters, particularly conservative ones, think that the Obama presidency is the worst calamity to hit America in their lifetimes, and fear it is doing permanent damage to the national values, identity, and standing in the world. GOP primary voters are going to want a fighter, and do they think Jeb Bush has been leading the fight against Obama?

Mitt Romney: When people tell Mitt Romney, “Governor, I really wish you had won in 2012,” they’re not saying, “Governor, I think you would have been one of the greatest presidents in our lifetimes.” They’re saying, “Governor, Obama is really, really, really terrible, and electing you would have spared the country a lot of pain.” He’s a good man, but a lot of Republicans are ready to move on to new options. Plus, you know… Gruber.

Chris Christie: If Bush and Romney are both in, you have to wonder how many big donors stick by him. He did better in his Iowa appearance than some might have expected, and he’s undoubtedly going to be a dominant figure in the debates. But he’s positioned himself in opposition to the rest of the party way too often, and you can’t win the GOP nomination from the Jon Huntsman slot, as the Republican nominee most acceptable to the Acela class that can’t stand Republicans.

Rand Paul: He’ll have his dad’s network, and he’s way more compelling than his father was. But there’s a ceiling to Libertarian-minded candidates in the modern Republican Party, and it’s going to be tougher to sell quasi-isolationist non-interventionism as the world blows up and grows even more dangerous in Obama’s final two years in office.

This isn’t 2008 or 2012, when the GOP didn’t field a bunch of top tier candidates like they’re fielding this year. In 2012, Paul Ryan would’ve swamped the field, including Mitt. This year, Paul Ryan would have a respectable following but he wouldn’t be seen as the prohibitive favorite.

Jeb Bush has irritated conservatives far too often to win the nomination. Sen. McCain got away with that in 2008 because he ran against a field of weaklings. Jeb won’t get away with that this time because he’s running against a virtual team of Olympic weightlifters. Mitt’s time came and went. Whether he officially runs is almost irrelevant at this point. That’s because he’s overmatched.

First Tier:

Scott Walker: He’s serious and accomplished enough for the “Establishment,” and indisputably conservative enough for the grassroots. The Left threw everything it had at this guy and he’s still going strong. Despite the questions about his charisma, he’s getting rave reviews for his passion in his appearance this weekend.

Marco Rubio: He’s arguably the best communicator in the Republican Party, and the Republican Party desperately needs a good communicator as its nominee.

With rave reviews from Charles Krauthammer and James Pethokoukis, he could end up being the conservative pundits’ favorite choice. Yes, there’s still irritation about the gang of “Gang of Eight” and anti-Senator skepticism to overcome, but he’s speaking about the broad, unifying national theme of American exceptionalism since 2010. Obviously, he offers a fantastic contrast with Hillary.

Rick Perry: The former governor of Texas is likely to be the only re-running candidate who improves upon his past performance. He still has a sterling economic record to point to, he’s been going toe-to-toe with the Obama administration consistently, he’s got enough charm to work on Jimmy Kimmel. This time, he won’t be coming off back surgery, he won’t start late and we’ll see just how much the hipster glasses help.

Bobby Jindal: Yes, he needs to speak slower. Yes, it’s not clear that a style that works in Louisiana will work on the national stage. But he’s a bit like Walker in that he’s amassed an indisputably conservative record while getting things done in two terms. There’s probably not another contender who knows more detail about more policies, and he’s guided his state through some severe challenges – post-Katrina rebuilding, a pair of serious hurricanes, the Deepwater Horizon and the drilling moratorium. What’s more, he’s been fighting the administration on issues like school choice for years and he moves fast when an opportunity opens like the House GOP botching a late-term abortion bill.

After Gov. Walker’s performance at Saturday’s Freedom Summit, he’ll be one of the most formidable candidates on either side of the aisle. While Hillary has her supporters, she doesn’t have supporters that’d run through brick walls to help her win. Gov. Walker’s supporters are passionate and they’re willing to do anything to help him win. (You don’t win 3 elections in 4 years by having supporters who are indifferent.)

As for Marco Rubio, there’s no question that his participation in the Gang of Eight immigration bill will hurt him with primary voters. Still, there’s no denying that he’s a powerful communicator with a compelling personal story that shouts ‘I’m living the American dream.’

Rick Perry is being written off by the MSM. That’s a mistake. They’ve focused too much on Perry’s oops moment during the 2012 and not enough on what he’s done on securing Texas’ border during the flood of unattended children. He’s a much more serious candidate this time.

At this point, I’d argue that Republicans are likely to win the White House. People are sick of President Obama and they just aren’t excited about Hillary. She’s been on the national scene for a quarter century. It’s impossible to sell yourself as a fresh face with Hillary’s resume.

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According to Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz’s tactics have ruined the GOP brand:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’ battle to defund Obamacare, resulting in a government shutdown, hurt the GOP brand.

Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation “about the role Cruz played in the shutdown, Graham called it a tactical mistake. “I think the tactical choice that he embraced hurt our party,” said Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

“The political marketplace will determine Ted Cruz’s future. We helped President Obama when he needed our help the most. After this debacle called the shutdown, our party’s been hurt, our brand name is at the lowest ever, Obamacare actually got a bump in polling, and we got in the way of a disastrous rollout,” Graham said. “So from my point of view, this was a tactical choice that hurt us, but the good news for the Republican Party is the debacle is over if we don’t do it again, and Obamacare is a continuing debacle,” Graham said.

That’s typical DC-think that’s demanded by Conventional Wisdom gurus. That plus a dollar is worth a dollar.

That doesn’t mean I think Sen. Cruz picked the wisest approach. He didn’t. That said, he energized TEA Party activists and other conservatives by fighting. Conservatives had gotten demoralized by politicians like Sen. Graham making ill-advised deals in which President Obama gets everything he wants and Republicans walk away with nothing.

Sen. Graham and his ‘elections have consequences’ teammate Sen. McCain are the politicians that’ve hurt the GOP brand. Rather than fighting for what’s best for the American people, Sen. Graham and Sen. McCain have fought for what’s popular amongst the DC media.

Graham said Sunday the Republican Party went too far right in its fight to repeal Obamacare.

“We’re a right-of-center nation, we’re not a right-ditch nation,” Graham said. “As a party, we’ve got to do some soul searching,” said Graham, who repeatedly urged House Republicans to follow the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner.

Sen. Graham is right. We’re a right-of-center nation. That said, he’s a left-of-center politician. Any idiot that’s willing to buy into immigration reform without stiff enforcement isn’t playing with a full deck. Anyone that’s willing to sign onto cap and trade isn’t a conservative. That’s the stuff that liberals believe.

I’m not a purist but it’s difficult for me to find common ground with appeasers like Graham and McCain. Anyone that thinks that caving after hearing President Obama’s first offer is too much of an appeaser to help improve the GOP brand.

Frankly, it isn’t a stretch to think that Graham will lose in the GOP primary next year. What would he know about improving the GOP brand?

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According to Newt’s article, it’s apparent that conventional wisdom was wrong…again. Based on the latest CNN poll, it’s apparent that the American people blame Republicans, Democrats and President Obama equally for the shutdown:

When asked in the CNN poll whom they are angry at, 63% said Republicans, 58% said Democrats and 53% said Obama. That is a 10-point margin for the president and only a 5-point margin for Democrats, compared with a 23-point margin in November 1995. Independents said they blamed all three equally (60% GOP, 59% Democrats, 58% Obama). This is so clearly within the margin of error that it is for all practical purposes a tie.

After weeks of the media focusing blame on House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Ted Cruz and the House Republicans, it is clear the American people are not buying it.

Earlier in the article, Newt talked about polling during 1995 shutdown:

A CNN poll at the time showed Americans blamed Republicans over President Bill Clinton for the first shutdown by almost 2-to-1, 49% to 26%. Republicans fared only a little better in the second shutdown of the mid-’90s. A CNN poll after it began showed the American people preferred Clinton’s approach to that of the Republicans by 52% to 38%.

Sixty-two percent said they had negative feelings about the Republican leaders during that conflict, compared with only 49% about Clinton.

It’s pretty apparent that the American people are perfectly capable of understanding the different dynamics at play in this shutdown vs. the 1995-96 shutdown. In 1995, Gingrich’s troops didn’t hide the fact that they a) took seriously the fact that they controlled the purse strings and b) that they wanted to change the direction of the country. They didn’t hide the fact that they were will willing to shut government down if that’s what it took to win the longterm fight.

President Clinton understood that. He didn’t hesitate in negotiating with Republicans. By doing that, he looked reasonable. Fast forward to today. This time, it’s Boehner’s Republicans who look reasonable compared with President Obama’s mean-spirited character.

After weeks of the media focusing blame on House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Ted Cruz and the House Republicans, it is clear the American people are not buying it.

There have been too many days of the president saying, “I will not negotiate.” The country believes him. They can see he’s a big part of the reason the government is shut down.

That’s why it’s impossible for me to believe the Gallup and Rasmussen polling that shows President Obama with a job approval rating near 50%. There’s no way to square up the CNN and AP polling with Rasmussen’s and Gallup’s polling.

If House Republicans continue to pass targeted, clean continuing resolutions to fund parts of the government and Senate Republicans demand day after day for the right to vote on these popular measures, the margin of blame may begin shifting from virtual parity to a solidly Democratic problem.

If the Republicans repeat every day their willingness to negotiate and Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeat every day their refusal to negotiate, this may become catastrophic for the Democrats.

I don’t expect President Obama to take that hardline approach much longer. He’s got to be seeing polling that shows his popularity tanking. That’s why it’s impossible to believe President Obama will stick to his guns.

That said, House Republicans have done their Senate colleagues a ton of good during this fight. They’ve forced Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor to take votes they’ll regret next November. Voting against funding of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and voting to keep the national parks closed just isn’t popular. It’s too early to predict that the entire group of Democratic senators will lose in November, 2014. Still, they might want to start drafting an outline for their concession speeches.

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DC’s chattering class has been talking about how Sen. Cruz’s talkathon (filibuster?) was all show that hurts Republicans. If I read another quote about how foolish it was, I’ll be ill. Thankfully, Michael Walsh gets it:

After his disgraceful attacks on Cruz, including his reach-across-the-aisle, dog-in-the-manger response today, this should be the end of Senator John McCain as a voice of influence in the Republican party. Ditto his mini-me, Senator Lindsey Graham. Indeed, the entire Old Guard of business-as-usual “comity” fans passeth. When you care more about what the other side thinks, it’s probably time either to switch teams or step down.

This is the difference between the Democrats’ old guard and the GOP’s old guard. Sen. McCain thinks Democrats care about comity. They don’t. Whenever they have a chance to stick the knife in, Democrats (think Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi) stick the knife in, give it a twist, then revel that they railroaded the McCains and Grahams of the world.

There is new leadership in the GOP, whether the party wants to admit it or not: Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jeff Sessions, and the others who stepped into the breach to spell the senator from Texas.

Another person who should be included in that list is Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Sen. Cornyn is another senator who signed his political death warrant during this debate. Keeping him around is fine but he needs to be run out of the Senate GOP leadership team.

Had the old guard been smart, they would’ve embraced Sen. Cruz’s talkathon. Instead, they criticized him. Someone from the old guard even sent Chris Wallace opposition research to do a hatchet job on Sen. Cruz. If they find out who sent the opposition research, that person should be primaried the next time he/she is up for re-election.

The Cruz faction in the Senate, and its allies in the House (whose leadership is now up for grabs) must now press their advantage. The louder the Democrats squawk, the more they are wounded; the one thing they’ve long feared is a direct assault on their core beliefs as translated into actions, and the deleterious effects of Obamacare, just now being felt by the population, are the most vivid proof of the failure of Progressivism that conservatives could wish for.

Carpe diem isn’t just a nice slogan. It should be the TEA Party’s rallying cry now through the first Tuesday in November, 2014. The Democrats’ worst nightmare in 2014 is that they might be forced to defend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the PPACA.

The PPACA is so unpopular that, in lots of House districts, Democrats wouldn’t have a chance of winning if the PPACA is the chief issue.

Back in their glory days, the Packers and the USC Trojans were dominant. It wasn’t because they fooled people with their playcalling. When the game was on the line, USC called Student Body Right or Student Body Left. The Packers ran sweeps led by Paul Hornung or Jim Taylor. Everyone knew what was coming. It didn’t matter.

The Democrats know what’s coming. They can’t stop it because they voted for a bill that’s less popular than Wall Street.

This is a great idea:

Make Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin into the faces of the Democratic party and watch the votes peel away from the Left.

Having Reid as the other face of the Democratic Party isn’t bad for Republicans either.

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Jonah Goldberg’s op-ed is the most well-thought-out argument for Republicans to trust their instincts about the PPACA. Here’s a healthy dose of Jonah’s thinking on the matter:

Republicans should have a little more confidence in their own arguments. If you believe that ObamaCare can’t work, you should expect that it won’t.

I haven’t found a single Republican, even amongst the RINOs, that thinks the PPACA will work. The number of people that’ll get hooked on their premium support payments isn’t equal to the number of people who’ll get upset about high premiums.

Make no mistake, either, about whether people will feel the pain from higher premiums. Nearly two-thirds of the states have refused to create state-run exchanges. People living in states that don’t run their exchanges aren’t eligible for federal premium support. They’ll be the hardest hit with premium increases.

When Sen. Lee and Sen. Cruz say that this might be the last opportunity to defund the PPACA, there’s no doubt that they sincerely believe that. I simply disagree with their opinion. Here’s why:

Once government expands, goes the theory, reversing that expansion is nearly impossible. Liberals have their own version. They point out that once Americans get an entitlement, Social Security, Medicare, etc., they never want to lose it. They hope that if they can just get Americans hooked on the goodies in ObamaCare, they’ll overlook all the flaws.

There’s a lot of truth here, to be sure. But it’s not an iron law either. Sometimes, bad laws get fixed. It happened with Medicare in 1989 and welfare reform in 1995. Many of the boneheaded laws of the early New Deal were scrapped as well.

Thinking that people will “overlook the flaws” is like believing unicorns and rainbows will suddenly appear. Anything’s possible but it isn’t likely.

Rather than shutting down government, Republicans should get out of the way and let America see that there’s a slow-motion trainwreck happening right before their eyes and that trainwreck is called the PPACA. Jonah’s final point might be the most powerful:

Forcing a debt crisis or government shutdown won’t kill ObamaCare, but it will give Democrats a lifeline heading into the 2014 elections, which could have the perverse effect of delaying the day Republicans have the political clout to actually succeed in repealing this unworkable and unpopular law.

I totally agree. I’d rather pick fights I can win rather than picking fights that feel good momentarily.

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A number of years back, I heard a joke, part of which I can’t remember. Still, I can remember enough of it to make a point. Historic military figures were looking at the Soviet Union’s military hardware. When the tanks rolled through Red Square, Alexander the Great replied, “If I had had these chariots, I would’ve ruled the entire world.” On his left stood Napoleon Bonaparte. After Napoleon read the current copy of Pravda, he replied “If I had this as the official newspaper, nobody would’ve heard of Waterloo.”

The point of the joke isn’t to get people laughing. It’s to make the point that there’s a more insidious type of Pravda operating inside the United States. For the last 5+ years, I’ve called that operation the Agenda Media. The Agenda Media doesn’t think it’s their responsibility to get people important facts. In their minds, their responsibility is to push their politicial agenda. If that means omitting important facts, that’s what they’re willing to do. This video is a perfect illustration of the Agenda Media’s selective editing:

Thankfully, citizen journalists with cell phones are recording things as they happened. Thankfully, citizen journalists with video cameras are informing people by filming protests like this, then posting the video to Youtube, then reposting the videos to their Facebook page, then posting the links to their videos to Twitter.

There’s a more important point to this. OFA isn’t just about protesting against constitutional conservatives. They’re identifying people in communities who might vote for progressives. Conservatives will show up to counterprotest against OFA. The big question is whether they’ll get into the neighborhoods and identify people that might appreciate the conservative/capitalist message.

Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Tom Coburn, Ron Johnson, Paul Ryan and Rand Paul should be the blueprint for Republicans for 2014. They’re picking fights with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, which is essential to winning elections. They’re framing debates. For instance, Sen. Coburn is highlighting tens of billions of dollars of duplicative spending that should be eliminated in this budget. Sen. Johnson is highlighting how government is used as a weapon against the citizenry. Paul Ryan is fighting for a pro-growth budget that will eventually balance within a decade.

It’s despicable that the Agenda Media would distort what happened at a protest. As despicable as that is, that’s only part of this story. OFA is already identifying potential Democrat voters. Republicans need to start this week at identifying potential conservative voters.

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