Alex Castellanos

Ability to Debate on Sunday Shows Should Not Be a Priority Prerequisite to be RNC Chairman

Today, Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos endorsed Michael Steele for RNC chairman, and emphasized his ability to communicate:

"Steele is not just good at media appearances, he's great at them. He's a talented, passionate, and persuasive advocate of Republican principles. President-elect Obama will soon install Gov. Tim Kaine as chairman of the DNC — shouldn't the Republican party obtain a chairman who is ready on day one to square off against Kaine on CNN or Meet the Press?"

I respect Alex Castellanos, but ... No! No! No!

I've not only become agnostic on the RNC chairman's race; I've become apathetic. As I've pointed out in my immediate past post, the future of the party will be determined by leaders (or the lack thereof) in different states, in different campaign areas, both within and outside the status quo party structures.

Sure, Castellanos also mentions Steele's work as the Maryland state party chair and as GOPAC chair. But there's also the case against Steele that Rob Bluey wrote about a couple weeks ago at RedState that brings concern about his judgment when it comes to grassroots building.

Most importantly, there's a critical observation to make about Castellanos statement: should appearing and doing well on cable and news network shows be a primary prerequisite to being a qualified chairman? My perspective: it would be a nice bonus to have someone articulate to appear on MSM shows, but it should be nowhere near the top when it comes to priorities for the next RNC chairman:

  • First, cable news and Sunday morning shows are a dying medium, and we should focus on a more diverse array of traditional and new spaces to spread our message.
  • Second, why should the RNC waste it's time debating with Kaine? I want to see more debates between Ryan and Rangel on the budget and tax issues, between Sanford and Granholm on a bailout for state governments, etc.
  • Third, we should be developing spokespeople at the state and local level to speak with local media. We should engage more with the Myrtle Beach Sun News and the local NBC affiliate than be worried about the New York Times or CNN.
  • Fourth, I would want an RNC chairman that would be on the phone and on the computer all the time, (a) raising money and (b) communicating best and worst practices between state and local party officials, assisting in their efforts.
  • Fifth, we should stay away from the intellectual laziness that is bred from celebrity politics. I have nothing against Michael Steele personally, but part of his appeal is his celebrity status in comparison to the other candidates. The fame of our chairman won't guarantee success at the operational, communications, fundraising, or policy levels when it comes to a party. In fact, it guarantees nothing.

There are some who are talking about what the right prerequisites and roles are for the next RNC chairman at's new forum. But let's not get sucked into the appeal of liking a candidate just because he sounds nice. The American people already did that on November 4, 2008.

Conservative Government: Oxymoron?

Promoted -- we need to reclaim the idea of the web as a place for organic self-organization and self-government in contrast to the top-down philosophy of the left. -Patrick

What is the blogosphere saying?  Can we get it on the web?  How can we use this to raise money online?  

These are questions that each of us who are "online" strategists hear from our clients.  And they miss the point about the power of the Internet for political change. 

Not to beat a dead horse, but the web -- as a medium, as a place -- plays a crucial role in politicking today, and we can foresee it playing an ever-increasing role throughout the 21st century.  It is key part of the solution to the right's woes, but it plays a minimal role in the problem.  The problem, as Alex Castellanos, veteran media strategist identifies in a National Review column, is that Republicans can't communicate a core principle (singular). 

Read on.

A Conservative's kind of government is on the web

On the National Review website, Republican media guru (and in full disclosure, my boss) Alex Castellanos has an article examining the Republican soul and recommending a new outlook and message for the coming elections.  And with "and-the-planets-align" kind of timing, he cites the internet as a model for conservative government.

 (see the full article here.)
 He writes in part: 

Conservatives do not hate government. We never have. We love life when it is well-governed. We respect the flag, our country, and traditional authority. We like a world where rules are observed and regulations are respected....What we believe in is people-driven, choice-filled, dynamic, flexible, equal-opportunity self-government. We should call it organic government. Want to know what your government is going to look like 20 years from now? Ask your children. They will say it will look a lot less like General Motors and a lot more like MySpace. The Internet is an education for us all, a place where people self-organize and govern themselves with maximum freedom. In its reflection, we can see more than the future of technology and communications; we can see the promise of democracy.

The roots of our Republican beliefs can be found in the small models of government.  In local, self-aggregating groups:  PTA meetings, church collection plates, and community watch programs.  It is where individual freedom leads to action. It is where responsibility for oneself and one’s family leads to responsibility for all. This is this government we should be discussing – the government that forms over fences, coffee and a sense of personal empowerment.

It also forms on the internet. 

So let’s hope that the launch of The Next Right is a moment of recognition and action. In the same way we’d talk to our neighbor about a community issue, let’s hope we talk to each other about where we are going as a movement and what we want in the elections. Just as we’d support a school fundraiser let’s hope we organize to support our institutions and candidates. 

Let’s hope that by coming together here we can steer ourselves forward.


Quick Hits: Alex Castellanos, KY-SEN, AK-1

 Update from Soren: Stu Rothenberg doesn't buy the poll and points to one with McConnell up 11.

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