John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Etch-A-Sketch

Posted on March 22, 2012


            Of course, Eric Fehrnstrom was exactly right when he said that the campaign would change completely after the primaries.

 

My high school history teacher, Mr. Keller, taught me that back when I was a junior.

 

Killer Keller (he gave killer exams) told me quite clearly that in the primaries, you run to please the base and after the primaries are over, you run to please the middle, hoping to hold on to the base as you sprint towards the moderates.

 

On a sidenote, my 30th high school reunion is this year, which means I learned this lesson 31 years ago.

 

Not much has changed in politics in the last three decades, except of course for social media, Super Pacs, Tea Parties, Occupy Wall Streets, the rise of evangelicals, and all of the other things that make politics so popular.

 

The Etch-A-Sketch hasn’t changed much either.   It still holds the attention of the above-average 5 year old boy (using my son as an example), for about 5 to 10 minutes before he wants to use it as a frisbee and then jump off the furniture, to the complete annoyance of his mother (and to the quiet bemusement of his father).

 

But I digress.

 

It is no fun to have the principal clean up after the spokesman, and the discomfort is especially unbearable for the spokesman.

 

And it is no fun for the spokesman to clean up after the principal, although that is slightly more enjoyable for the spokesman.

 

I remember one time I injected my former boss's name into the whole debate following the tie-election between Al Gore and George W. Bush.  There was some speculation that if this weren’t settled, that Mr. Hastert would have to temporarily assume the White House.

Hastert was not amused by that speculation, and he wanted to stay out of the story completely.

But after the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Gore Team, I couldn’t hold my tongue, and I called the Sunshine State’s Justices a bunch of “partisan hacks.”

The Speaker was not amused, and he let know me that in no uncertain terms.

It didn’t matter that I was right (they were a bunch of partisan hacks).  What mattered was that Hastert didn’t want to be in the story at all.  I apologized, and life went on (Hastert decided not to offer any remarks clarifying my remarks).

So, being right doesn’t always make up for being inappropriate.

Mr. Fehrnstrom’s comments were correct in a general sense, but they were a blunder in a bigger strategic sense.   Any time you step on the message of a big victory in a big state and simultaneously the endorsement of one the most important political figures in your party, you know you have messed up.

But, I am sure he knows that.

Stuff happens in campaigns.  At the end of the day, it is not the little mess-ups that decide elections.  It is the bigger trends.

And the bigger trends are trending in Mitt Romney’s favor.

Some conservatives don't want to face it, but you can etch this sketch on you etch-a-sketch:  Romney will be the nominee of the GOP.