"I Told You So" is Good Politics

Posted: Mar 06, 2014 12:01 AM
"I Told You So" is Good Politics

The explosive situation in Ukraine is causing a lot of people to point out that Mitt Romney was correct in his early warnings about Putin's Russia.

During the 2012 campaign, Romney famously said, "Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin." In interviews to an aghast media, he often referred to Russia as a major geo-political foe.

For his part, President Obama dismissed these notions even at one point mocking Governor Romney saying, "And the 1980's are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back — because the Cold War has been over for 20 years."

Compounding this was the press, the pundit class and other democrats jumping on the band wagon to collectively mock the presidential candidates as well as any other Republicans that pointed this out in the years preceding recent events.

Arianna Huffington famously tweeted about it:

Our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, said in 2012 of Romney "He's even blurted out the preposterous notion that Russia is our 'number one geopolitical foe."

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said that Romney's comments showed "little understanding of what is actually going on in the 21st century."

As shown in this excellent video from David Rutz at Washington Free Beacon, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews, and a host of other members of the mainstream press were happy to carry the water on the meme that this was an "antiquated world view."

Obviously the situation has now caught up with us and everyone who was on the wrong side of history is delicately eating crow.

This is an obvious win for Republicans. As Republicans, we often use past successes and "I told ya so" as a way to remind people that it's just possible we aren't a large group of out of touch oil czars throwing money at wars while resting our feet on children's backs. Republicans actually have ideas & concerns that are born from experience, consultation and, dare I say it, wisdom.

Yet, it seems there is a desire from within our own ranks to relax on the schadenfreude because ultimately, we gain nothing if our greatest successes are derived from being right about the existence of a bomb that just exploded. There's some logic to that argument. Certainly our goal should be to prevent disaster, not simply be correct that it was looming.

But when it comes to politics, unlike bomb disabling, there's the additional component of narrative. Narratives are what the press uses to paint the picture they've already concluded is accurate. It is what drives public opinion and what can make or break a candidate or policy. From time to time we find ourselves in the midst of unique leadership that is capable of transcending narratives and speaking directly to people in a way that defies the press, but that's certainly not something we can or should count on and that definitely wasn't Mitt Romney.

The thing that people who want us to stop gloating are missing, even as they acknowledge it happened, is the importance of Sarah Palin & John McCain giving these same warnings in 2008.

Palin in 2008:

"After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next."

McCain in 2008:

"I said before, watch Ukraine. Ukraine, right now, is in the sights of Vladimir Putin, those that want to reassemble the old Soviet Union."

As was the case with Romney, the press and the punditry pummeled them on their warmongering view of the world. Didn't they know we were still experiencing the glorious peace dividend that Bill Clinton so graciously bestowed upon us?

But beyond the snark about being right, consider this: what is it that between 2008 and 2012 made it possible for the Obama to push the same nonsense narrative that Russia was no threat even as Putin defied us with Iran, relations continued a downward slope and more and more rumblings of hardline KGP antics made their way out from behind the "former" Iron Curtain?

Well if you've been paying attention, it's media narratives. And media narratives only lose their power when media loses their credibility. So how does media lose their credibility? We do exactly what we've been doing. We force the press to cover themselves and we bring up the fact that we were right about this important issue as much as possible.

Democrats, even the charismatic ones, can only win so much of people's hearts and minds on their own. They need the media to push along their narratives. But as much as they love a guy like Obama, they have equal hatred for looking like a fool. Forcing them into that choice is just good politics.