Political Animal


May 13, 2013 12:49 PM Death Rattle of the Rebranding Project

By Ed Kilgore

I predicted on Friday that we would soon hear Republicans complaining that had Benghazi! Benghazi! been fully “vetted” before last November, Mitt Romney would be president today and we’d be surveying the devastation being wrought by rapid passage of the Ryan Budget. Now that the “IRS Scandal” talk is already reaching a fever-pitch, we’ll hear much more of this kind of revisionist history, and it’s appropriate that we are hearing it first from that fine statesman Donald Trump (per Politico’s Kevin Cirilli):

Donald Trump said Monday that if the details surrounding the IRS targeting tea party groups and last week’s Benghazi hearing had come out last fall, President Barack Obama might not have won reelection.
“This is a big, big story that is probably going to get a lot bigger,” Trump said of the IRS scandal on Fox News. “This is a terrible thing. It’s just not supposed to happen. They have laws against it. If this were somebody else, this would be the biggest story.”
Trump continued: “I’ve been watching it for the last four days getting bigger and bigger and even some of our liberal friends are sort of saying this is really bad. Between this and Benghazi, Benghazi — had this come out like this before the election, you could have had a different result.”

Yes, he actually said “Benghazi” twice, like an incantation, much as I’ve been mockingly doing myself off and on for months.

Before long, I betcha, two strands of thought on the Right will converge: the notion that Romney lost because “discouraged” conservative white voters stayed home, and a revival of the same argument we heard after 2008 that the GOP candidate failed to exploit Obama’s vulnerabilities aggressively enough (you know, William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright in 2008, Benghazi! and now the IRS in 2012).

The bigger picture here is that we are hearing the death rattle of the brief and often insincere GOP “rebranding” project. Who needs Latinos or better GOTV or a less savage image? All the Republican Party needs is more vetting of the opposition, and ruthless pols willing to take the fight to the enemy without inhibition. So much for the “fever” breaking.

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.


  • Peter C on May 13, 2013 12:54 PM:

    The Republicans ARE the fever. It will break when they've gone the way of the Whig Party.

  • c u n d gulag on May 13, 2013 1:10 PM:

    GOP POV:

    Yes, and if only Mitt was sufficiently Conservative, he'd have motivated more old white Conservative males to come out and vote!

    So, we need to get older, whiter, and maleier!

    This is good news for John McCa.... er... uhm... Marco Rub... no... Ted Cr... no... JIM DEMINT!!!
    Maybe with Rand as his VP, to get the "kid" vote.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on May 13, 2013 1:17 PM:

    And according to dopey-ass Trump, if Obama had provided his real birf certificate issued by the Islamist Jihadi Commonwealth of Kenya, he'd never been elected in the first place!!!!

    Wishful thinking at it's finest...

    And btw, Trump has "liberal friends"???? Really... Okay, can all the jackasses on the Right file "I have liberal friends" where ever they keep their stashes of "I have black neighbors/I have binders full of women/I have a gay co-worker"? Any claims uttered with proximity of these phrases are automatically suspect.

  • Bokonon on May 13, 2013 1:18 PM:

    Besides satisfying the GOP's talk radio base, hearings and investigations also provide the GOP with the illusion that they are actually, you know, showing up for work and legislating.

  • Hannah on May 13, 2013 1:35 PM:

    More excuses for the Rs to not get any real legislating done that would actually help their constituents. And more ammunition to lob at the president.

    As for the IRS thing, does anyone, anyone, believe that the tea party groups are apolitical??? And which party they support? Someone needs to ask that of those who are whining about it. Of course the president can't do that but the press damn well should as should some Democratic politicians.

    Anyone else see SNL's spoof of Issa's Benghazi (Benghazi!) hearing this past Saturday. Absolutely brilliant.

  • DRF on May 13, 2013 1:35 PM:

    The idea of Donald Trump as a predicter of politics is too funny for words.

    By the way, how come no one who interviews him asks him whatever happened to his birth certificate investigation? Didn't he claim his people were coming up with something big?

  • Yastreblyansky on May 13, 2013 1:38 PM:

    All the Republican Party needs is more vetting of the opposition, and ruthless pols willing to take the fight to the enemy without inhibition.
    You mean they feel it's "their IRS and Obama should give it back?
  • Anonymous on May 13, 2013 1:51 PM:

    "Yes, he actually said 'Benghazi' twice, like an incantation"

    Was he also rubbing an old magic lamp ?

  • Aidan on May 13, 2013 3:13 PM:

    Things would have really come out differently if Benghazi had happened before the election!

  • Fang on May 13, 2013 3:29 PM:

    It actually doesn't matter how sincere the rebranding project was - dog-whistle conspiracy theories are far integrated into the modern Republican party to just go away.

    The Republican party really can't govern; it exploits situations. In this case, trying to hype Benghazi to derail Hillary, and then getting the IRS story to boot. So now it's jumping on top of the stories with all the enthusiasm of Nancy Grace discovering a new horrible crime to exploit. This is what they did throughout the Clinton administration - it is now their normal.

    Just look at the amount of insane conspiracy theories brought up by congressmembers.

    So, no mater what, rebranding was dead. It's the party of Beck and Jones, not Rand or Burke. The crazy too much art of them.

    Sometimes I hope we really will reach "peak wingnut" and see the fever truly break. But I think the only way that will happen is if a few prominent republicans/media figures have truly egregious meltdowns that lead to serious fallout.