Political Animal


December 12, 2012 11:09 AM The Octopus With a Thousand Tentacles

By Ed Kilgore

At NRO, Jim Geraghty has an unintentionally hilarious interview with RNC chairman Reince Priebus in which the party chief pledges a frantic effort to look everywhere for ways to improve the party’s appeal—everywhere, that is, other than ideology, the Big Taboo no one is supposed to address.

In an especially creepy metaphor, Priebus calls the new party-fixing Growth and Opportunity Project (composed of such deep thinkers as Ari Fleischer and Henry Barbour) as “an octopus with a thousand tentacles.”

There’s not going to be any stone left unturned. There’s not going to be any group or people that we don’t try to reach out to in order to, at the end of the day, develop the best possible two- and four-year plan moving forward. That will incorporate everything. That includes the best of all data, the best of all state-party-operations ideas: GOTV, digital, campaign infrastructure — everything you can put together to be the best possible party. That’s what it’s going to include. We want something that we are going to be able to implement, that the grassroots are going to buy into, and that the donors are ultimately going to want to invest in.

Hate to call out ol’ Reince on this, but yeah, I feel quite sure there are going to be a lot of stones left unturned: the GOP’s relationship with a Christian Right activist base that inevitably leads to candidates talking about the spiritual benefits of rape; the power of large individual donors who skew the party message and keep less-than-appealing national figures like Newt Gingrich afloat; the fact that the entire GOP elected official base is having to undertake a herculean struggle to free itself from bondage to an obscure man named Grover Norquist, etc., etc. I could go on and on, but you get the point: the Octopus With a Thousand Tentacles isn’t going to extend its inky reach into those questions.

Now it’s understandable that Priebus wants to look frantically busy, insofar as some voices have been raised (as noted by Geraghty) suggesting that the chairman who presided over the supposed slam-dunk of 2012 might himself be expendable. He goes so far in this interview as to remind people of his predecessor, the now-openly-treacherous Michael Steele:

We started from a standing start, basically, or even worse. We couldn’t make payroll, we were $25 million in debt. One story I haven’t told too much is that when we got here, both of the committee’s credit cards were suspended when we walked in the door. We began paying for [staff] flights and expenses on my credit card.

Well, money’s not really the problem any more. Nor, one could argue, are all the other mechanical and process issues Priebus talks about in this interview. But even as the Octopus moves across the bottom-feeding wastes of party operations, the GOP is at least another election defeat or two away from dealing with its ideological delusions.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • rea on December 12, 2012 11:12 AM:

    A millipus?

  • Mudge on December 12, 2012 11:21 AM:

    Like most Republican actions (see Boehner's cliff notes to Obama) there is a statement that something has been done, with a purely political endpoint in the offing. Priebus will look everywhere (in your sense) then announce they have the answer but provide no details, other than saying "We love you [choose your voting block]now in the hope that some of the rubes who voted Democratic take the bait.

    It is the usual combination of theater and lying from Republicans. I'm sure Boehner will cry at some point about the issue.

  • Brian Beckmann on December 12, 2012 11:21 AM:

    "...Priebus calls the new party-fixing Growth and Opportunity Project “an octopus with a thousand tentacles.”

    Yeah, someone should tell Prince Riebus that the word he's thinking of is 'Hydra'.

  • SteveT on December 12, 2012 11:36 AM:

    I really worry that the Republicans will produce STEALTH Wingnuts who tell the voters that they are focused on improving the economy and not on social issues -- and then actually keep their mouths shut and not say anything controversial until after they're elected.

    A few of the Octopus' tentacles could be working to develop a South Park movie-style V-Chip right now.

  • MFA on December 12, 2012 11:56 AM:

    "Tentacles"? I've seen enough GOP rebranding efforts to know where this is going. To Frank Luntz's shop, that's where.

  • c u n d gulag on December 12, 2012 12:00 PM:

    So, they're trying a 2 to 4 year plan to put that pig in some fine lipstick, an expensive wig, a nice dress, a garter, and some "feck'me" red pumps.

    I still wouldn't want to feck it!!!

    And you've got to love that it's only a 2 to 4 year plan.

    After that, what?

    Well, if they win, they'll begin establishing their "Thousand Year Republicanische Reich!"

  • Joe Friday on December 12, 2012 12:03 PM:

    Priebus: "There's not going to be any group or people that we don't try to reach out to"

    Translation from RightWing speak:

    "There's not going to be any group or people that we don't try to LIE to."

  • Ronald on December 12, 2012 12:25 PM:

    I think I saw a hentai based on this plan...

  • joe corso on December 12, 2012 12:57 PM:

    This commentary expresses a deeply contemptuous and profoundly unfair view -- of octopi

  • Josef K on December 12, 2012 1:11 PM:

    A bit of perspective:

    1. octopi have no skeletal structure, so they can literally squeeze through any small opening. Read that to mean the GOP will find the smallest fissures and crevaces on the ocean floor to fit themselves into while they try to 'rebrand' themselves.

    2. the grip of an octopus is (to the best of my knowledge) pretty loose on full-sized humans. People who die from octopi 'attacks' (most times the cephalopod is just playing) are caused by the victim's own panic causing them to drown. The octopi itself is pretty much blameless.

    3. if Priebus thinks the GOP can become The Krakan, he should read up on his myths better that monster was always drawfed by Leviathan. I leave it to the reader to work out who the big "L" is.

  • The DeMBA on December 12, 2012 2:09 PM:

    When the leader of an organization experiences a big failure, and responds by commissioning a blue ribbon panel to study the problem while vowing to do everything and reach out to everyone, that leader might as well put out a press release saying he doesn't have a clue on what to do.

  • Crissa on December 12, 2012 11:37 PM:

    When racists stop donating, of course the coffers will be empty.

  • jpeckjr on December 13, 2012 11:12 AM:

    So let me understand this. When Mr. Priebus took over from Mr. Steele, the RNC was in massive debt and couldn't pay it's bills. So he increased revenue and now they are financially stable. Wow. I wonder if that would work for the country?

    Also, I am a liberal progressive gay white male. Please, please spend millions and millions of dollars trying to persuade me to become an octopusser. You won't be able to, but I'd love for you to spend the money trying.

    Captcha for this post: lose dcguest. Simply changing one letter gets lose dcquest