Ready, Aim, Republican!

Gina Loudon
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Posted: Aug 21, 2012 8:01 PM

Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican. -President Ronald Reagan

A psychological phenomenon occurs almost every election cycle.   The Democrats begin to pick at Republican candidates, then Republicans begin the circular fire and faction against one another. 

Some Republicans are saying that Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) should step aside for comments he made regarding rape.  The comments were bad, really bad, by all accounts, including that of Congressman Akin.  He admits he used a poor choice of words, and apologized for them:

“Rape is equally tragic and I made that statement in error. Let me be clear: rape is never legitimate. It’s an evil act and it’s committed by violent predators. I used the wrong words in the wrong way. What I said was ill-conceived and it was wrong and for that I apologize. I’m a dad of two daughters and I want tough justice for sexual predators…”

Some say if Akin does not step aside, Missouri Republicans could lose their chance to unseat Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill, who was one of the first to endorse Obama, endorses his economic policy, and remains one of his closest allies in the Senate.   That would be tragic for Republicans.

There may be a greater tragedy looming for Republicans.

Reagan didn’t make his 11th Comandment because he is an apologist; he made it because he saw Republicans faction and lose, after primaries.  Dr. Dathan Paterno and I explain this phenomenon in our latest book, Ladies and Gentlemen, wherein we discuss the psychology of politics in depth.

Psychologically speaking, Democrats tend to rally after their primaries and become a team.  Republicans, in their principle, will tend to “re-try” their primary victors, and faction up based on principle.   Some conservatives will go so far as to vote third party, acknowledging they will lose.  This costs the Republicans elections over and over, and the Akin issue may be the whetting of the political whistle for Democrats this political season.

At a time when the Obama economy is killing jobs and handing the Republicans a winning issue, Republicans are debating themselves over the Akin issue.  Polls are suggesting that Obama is losing suburban Chicago, and the cover of Newsweek says that perhaps it was time for Obama to move on. 

Imagine the delight of Democrat strategists to discover that those stories were overshadowed by the Akin story.  Still, few Republican analysts were advising that Republicans move on.  This is very interesting when one considers that there is much more at stake than one Missouri Senate seat.  There are 16 Senate Seats in play, and an entire general election that could be skewed if the Republicans take the bait every time someone misspeaks.   Do Republicans really believe that all of their candidates are so perfect that the Democrats can’t find other examples like the Akin one?  Who is next? 

If this is any indication of how Republicans will handle the “October Surprise” that Democrats have in store for them, can we expect Republicans to turn on their own again?  Democrats are counting on it. From municipal seats, all the way up to Romney, everything could be at risk for Republicans.

Democrats know this “picking off one at a time” is a winning practicality for them.  Instead of focusing on winning Republicans focus on principle, agreeing or disagreeing with Democrat allegations and then eating their own.  Republicans reason that principle is important--and it is to a Republican—that is foundational to many Republicans, and even the party as a whole.  That is the point of the vetting process of the primary election.  By all accounts, Akin is one of the Republican’s cleanest out there.  This should cause pause to those who don’t believe Democrats are not seeking out their next “really bad word choice” target.

This has ripple effects beyond Akin for Republicans.  Any consultant will tell you it is difficult to find good candidates because recruits decide they don’t want to subject their families to such attacks for misspoken words, for example.  More importantly, as Republicans process Obama’s promise to Russians to “go easier” on them after his re-election, the tripled and growing debt, and other statements that Democrats have stood behind, principle might begin to look a little different.   

If Republicans do want to win, perhaps they heed the warning of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan.  The party of principal might want to take a page from the party of pragmatics and team up for this event.  The playoffs are over. 

This is the World Series.  Batter up!