Amateur Hour for Arkansas GOP

It’s amateur hour for the Republican Party of Arkansas, which has cranked up their moral dudgeon to “high” in response to a throw-away comment from the state Democrats’ executive director in a recent news story.

Here’s the background: On Tuesday, former GOP Rep. Michael Lamoureux won a special election to be the next state senator for District 4. Asked for response, state Democrats offered this to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Mike Wickline :

Mariah Hatta, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said she hopes Lamoureux “will work across party lines for the good of our people and avoid the hyper-partisanship cult of Republican legislators, mostly in the House, who would like to make the Capitol in Little Rock more like the one in Washington.”

That “cult” bit didn’t go down too well with GOP chair Doyle Webb and House  minority leader Bryan King, who issued hyperventilating statements declaring, in effect, “We are not a cult.”

Jonestown 1978

OK, let’s review some elementary political communication tactics, such as, when someone makes a charge against you, you DON”T REPEAT THE CHARGE. Why? Because it simply reinforces the idea in people’s minds, rather than refuting it.  Here, let’s let Ryan Sager explain how that works:

People use “perceived familiarity” with a supposed “fact” as a mental shortcut to judge its truth. Thus, if they hear “X isn’t true,” over time they simply remember “X.” So, for instance, if you’re the Democrats during the health care debate, you don’t want to get stuck repeating, “There are no death panels.” What people remember from that is, “Man, there’s sure a lot of controversy over these ‘death panels’ I hear so much about.”

Well put, Ryan Sager! So when people hear Republicans leaders protest, “We are not a cult!”, they don’t share the deep sense of offense. They’re more likely to simply remember the nouns: “GOP=Cult.” (If you’re running for office in the coming year, feel free to clip ‘n’ save this little lesson. It may come in handy when you have to run a little campaign damage control of your own.)

Now, Hatta’s comment was dumb — over-the-top and needlessly provocative-for-the-sake-of-being-provocative. But the Republican response, purposely elevating the throw-away smear buried in a newspaper story into a Big Issue, is worse, because they allowed themselves to be provoked, to no useful end.

It may be too much to ask the state’s GOP leaders to think like professional communication strategists. But at the very least, they might refrain from embarrassing themselves with tactics that are self-defeating and monumentally retarded.

UPDATE: No sooner do I hit “publish” on this piece than a news release arrives from GOP Senate candidate Conrad Reynolds, taking a breather from not raising money for his campaign, pushing the same goddamn lines. This. This is the hill they’ve chosen to stand and fight upon. Attention Democrats: Give Mariah Hatta a fat bonus! Full Reynolds statement at jump.

Reynolds Calls on Lincoln to Denounce ‘Cult’ Comment
Notes ‘Un-American’ Description; DPA Praise of Lincoln for Toeing the Obama Line
CONWAY – Republican United States Senate candidate Col. Conrad Reynolds (U.S. Army, Ret.) today demanded Sen. Blanche Lincoln denounce Democratic Party of Arkansas Executive Director Mariah Hatta for comments describing Republican members of the Arkansas General Assembly as a “cult”:
“After Sen. Lincoln’s summer description of Arkansans as ‘un-American,’ it is no surprise that the state Democratic Party would describe legitimate opposition as a ‘cult.’ And, just as quickly as Sen. Lincoln backtracked from her ‘un-American’ comment, I demand she act just as quickly to denounce her party and Ms. Hatta for this equally mean-spirited attack on Arkansans.
This attack, occurring the same week the DPA launches a television advertisement thanking Sen. Lincoln for toeing the line as President Obama’s 60th vote on government-run healthcare, shows how simply out of touch they are with Arkansans who are greatly concerned with the liberal policies of President Obama and Sen. Lincoln’s enabling of them.
Any delay proves to us that Sen. Lincoln has given her tacit approval to this attack upon people with a legitimate concern to the policies of the Democratic establishments in Little Rock and Washington which do not reflect the conservative values that we must fight for in Arkansas.”

Reynolds Calls on Lincoln to Denounce ‘Cult’ Comment

Notes ‘Un-American’ Description; DPA Praise of Lincoln for Toeing the Obama Line

CONWAY – Republican United States Senate candidate Col. Conrad Reynolds (U.S. Army, Ret.) today demanded Sen. Blanche Lincoln denounce Democratic Party of Arkansas Executive Director Mariah Hatta for comments describing Republican members of the Arkansas General Assembly as a “cult”:

“After Sen. Lincoln’s summer description of Arkansans as ‘un-American,’ it is no surprise that the state Democratic Party would describe legitimate opposition as a ‘cult.’ And, just as quickly as Sen. Lincoln backtracked from her ‘un-American’ comment, I demand she act just as quickly to denounce her party and Ms. Hatta for this equally mean-spirited attack on Arkansans.

This attack, occurring the same week the DPA launches a television advertisement thanking Sen. Lincoln for toeing the line as President Obama’s 60th vote on government-run healthcare, shows how simply out of touch they are with Arkansans who are greatly concerned with the liberal policies of President Obama and Sen. Lincoln’s enabling of them.

Any delay proves to us that Sen. Lincoln has given her tacit approval to this attack upon people with a legitimate concern to the policies of the Democratic establishments in Little Rock and Washington which do not reflect the conservative values that we must fight for in Arkansas.”

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18 thoughts on “Amateur Hour for Arkansas GOP

  • December 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm
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    On this point, Mr. Kinkade becomes part of the problem and fails to present a solution. Perhaps he should refrain from embarrassing himself with “tactics that are self-defeating and monumentally retarded”. Stick to posting pictures of scantily clad women, tripe like this diminishes his public persona if that were possible considering his “professional communications strategy” worked out so well for Asa.

    Reply
  • December 11, 2009 at 1:28 pm
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    I don’t know, Jacob. I’m enjoying the Jonestown photo bikini pics only go so far.

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  • December 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm
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    Oh, lordy, Jake, there were plenty of problems that went down for Asa in that campaign, and I could point to plenty of own blunders along the way, but here’s hoping I learned at least a few lessons from that experience. But you can’t actually believe that it’s a constructive strategy for Republicans to go around repeating this “We are not a cult!” line. You actually view that as a sharp move?
    D.

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  • December 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm
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    “I am not a crook. [damnit]”

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  • December 11, 2009 at 2:51 pm
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    I dont even know where to begin…

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  • December 11, 2009 at 2:56 pm
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    Wait… The GOP is a cult? Why can’t I get that out of my head?

    Thankfully the state GOP has failed to recognize its most talented member remains an unpaid blogger. I praise their cult-like mentality of refusing the hire the best and the brightest. Dare I say, it’s a cult of personality.

    Reply
  • Pingback: Blake’s Think Tank » Blog Archive » Welcome Back, David Kinkade

  • December 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm
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    I can honestly say that I would not know they were called a cult or even cared that they were called a cult unless the republican leadership popped in to tell me so. Seems kinda like Kincaid nailed it.

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  • December 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm
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    Yeah, it wasn’t the smart move for them to respond directly to the statement. Instead, they could have used some political ju-jitsu: wait a few weeks, then accuse the opposition of being members of Obama’s “personality cult”, and Al Gore’s “doomsday cult”. Those terms would make a “hyper-partisan cult” sound relatively harmless.

    Reply
  • December 12, 2009 at 9:07 am
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    Boy, this seems to be directly out of the Trevor Drown playbook for sure. I just can’t figure out yet who is reading it…

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  • December 12, 2009 at 9:12 am
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    I think I have it narrowed down though. In real life, Trevor Drown is either Mr. TAP, or Fourche River Rex, or BR549, or David Sanders, or Blanche Lincoln, or Stanley Reed, or the Arkansas Project Girlfriend, or Brenda Turner, or Sheffield Nelson, or John Mark Huckabee, or Jeremy Hutchinson, or Houston Nutt. Or, maybe someone else.

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  • December 12, 2009 at 10:49 am
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    .

    Bryan King lives too close to Eureka Springs not to be a cult member.

    .

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  • December 13, 2009 at 8:40 am
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    Kinkade is correct- comments like MH’s are throw aways-not worth responding

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  • December 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm
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    Oh, but it’s much harder to be a Republican than a member of your average cult. Even Tony Alamo didn’t require as an extensive of a loyalty test.

    I mean, it must have been harder for a libertarian to vote for Bush or McCain than to simply toss down a cup of poison Koolade – but they managed it.

    Ayn Rand would’ve quaffed the hemlock before voting for Sarah Palin.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2009 at 6:36 pm
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    Gilbert baker and Kim Hendren voted for MEEEEEEEE.

    Reply

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