In laying out his case for why the GOP should have a minimal platform for the November elections, a New York Republican has given ammunition to critics who say the party knows its policies wouldn’t be popular if they were put under the microscope.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told a radio show Thursday that the GOP should focus on its strategy of being against President Barack Obama’s policies, but shouldn’t give too many specifics on its own policies — or those policies could be used against them.
GOP strategy should be “a combination of being against what Obama is for, and also giving certain specifics of what we are for,” King told the Bill Bennett Radio Show. “Having said that, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then we would have the national mainstream media jumping on every point trying to make that a campaign issue.”
Critics are seizing on King’s comments as perhaps the most concrete evidence that Republicans fear that American voters would turn against them if they looked into the specifics of how the GOP plans to address the economic crisis and other issues facing the country.
“Deliberately hiding one’s ideas for fear of examination is not only cowardice, it’s indicative of a party that suspects its own beliefs would be rejected by the public,” writes Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly.
Alex Seitz-Wald at ThinkProgress, who first reported on King’s comments, suggests that King seems to be overlooking the fact that policy agendas are exactly what election campaigns should be about.
“[A]n agenda should be a campaign issue Ã¢â‚¬â€ the most important issue,” Seitz-Wald writes. “But KingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s political calculation reflects the strategies of several Republican candidates, like Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, to hide from the mainstream media, lest they accidentally reveal more of their extreme agenda.”
Benen points out that some conservative commentators have been criticizing the GOP’s vague political platform in this election cycle. He points to an article by Jonah Goldberg that applauds the GOP for “regrowing its spine” but adds “that spine is only valuable if you use it for something.”
In an opinion piece last month, conservative writer David Frum said that simply opposing Obama’s policies would not be enough.
“A positive agenda may be more necessary than usual this year, if only as a way to inoculate Republicans against Democratic attacks on an anti-Medicare, anti-Social Security secret agenda,” Frum wrote.
The following audio was broadcast on The Bill Bennett Radio Show, July 15, 2010, and uploaded to the Web by ThinkProgress.