Fred Barnes, the Executive Editor of one of the conservative movements leading organs, The Weekly Standard, came out this week with an editorial I found astonishing. His opening line says it all: “Republicans are paying a high price for allowing their presidential race to be dominated by nationally televised debates.” As a consequence, the incumbent President is allowed to get his own message out, and the GOP candidates are prevented from “[f]undraising, building an organization, developing policy papers.” So let me get this straight. Instead of talking to those human-like entities known as voters, candidates should be dealing with rich people and political insiders. Policy papers? How many have you read?
The Republican elites are becoming increasingly concerned that the result of this time-consuming need to appeal to voters, someone such as Newt Gingrich — dismissed by Barnes as being driven from Congress following a revolt by his Republican peers — has moved to the front of the pack. Barnes is distressed that the longest-serving governor in the history of Texas isn’t able to capitalize on that fact because of his poor performance in the debates. Don’t those responding to polls (i.e., potential voters) know any better?
Then we have Dick Morris on the Bill O’Reilly show lamenting the fact that Ron Paul is preventing a “fair fight” between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. (Clip from Andrew Sullivan’s blog.) He makes no mention of the “lesser” candidates, including current and former governors, senators and congresspeople who are also messing up his desired race. Morris’ comments are part of what Andrew Sullivan sees as a a conscience effort by Fox News to diminish the candidacy of Paul, a libertarian who has the temerity to not follow Roger Ailes’ orthodoxy.
In Ailes’ and Barnes’ world apparently, the intelligentsia of the Republic Party should be the ones to anoint the nominee — and this from the folks who brought us Sarah Palin.