GOP needs a talent search

The cavalcade of post-election autopsy analysis as the GOP and detractors attempt to make sense of it all has been interesting and instructive.

The left-wing mainstream media and Democrats gleefully jeer that the Obama victory is proof positive the GOP is the party of old white men, is racist and sexist and condemned to the annals of history. It’s called gloating, and they are having a simply marvelous time rubbing the collective GOP nose in it.

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In the fullness of hindsight, history will view President Obama as perhaps the worst of our presidents. And as former GE CEO Jack Welch said, Mitt Romney was perhaps the best presidential hopeful of a lifetime. The Romney loss is perplexing to Republicans and Democrats alike, despite the left’s haughty victory lap.

Unemployment was at 8 percent and higher, with African-American unemployment much higher than under President George W. Bush, $16 trillion of crippling debt (Obama adding more than previous presidents combined), failed stimulus spending, bailouts, Solyndra scandal, Fast and Furious, ObamaCare, foreign policy faux pas, snubbing Israel, Benghazi cover-up … the list goes on. This is the Obama presidency.

Obama overwhelmingly won African-Americans and did better among women and Latinos, but lost white men. The Latino and gender breakdown was likely based on economics. Women and minorities are hit first when the economy tanks. Rather than lay the blame at the feet of Obama, his promise of a good life, courtesy of the taxpayers, assuaged the bitterness, pain and fear of his economy. The media, and therefore the voters, ignored his failures. 

Romney gets slimed, GOP policies slammed, and we can justifiably point a finger at the pro-Obama media that largely kept important issues such as Benghazi out of the public domain, going beyond mere bias and into propagandist territory. Blame is shared equally with another group — Republican political operatives. The nation dangles dangerously from a fiscal cliff not because the GOP is wrong, but because we were outgunned.

The Project ORCA epic mess is now well-known, where the untested Get Out the Vote program failed on Election Day. Compared to the savvy Obama ground game, the GOP was in the Stone Age even if ORCA had been fully operational. This right-of-center country would likely have elected Romney had we employed even the most rudimentary GOTV efforts.

A small cabal of GOP consultants spins contracts in the millions of dollars back and forth, around and among each other, demanding nothing by way of results and performance, as long as double-dipping, ungodly large profits and sweet deals are facilitated. Good men and women running for office place their trust in them, as do donors and rank-and-file Republicans nationwide, only to be scammed.

Also, Republican operatives at some fairly high levels are there due to personal friendships, yet lack the goods to back it up. While certainly common in politics and business to trade on friendships and family connections, we can afford to let those be the deciding factors among the most qualified, but not the only reason for scoring the gig.

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Where the golf buddy, ballgame companion or happy-hour chum being named to a vital campaign or leadership staff position becomes worrisome is when a bit of research turns up no real record of results in key areas. Politics are costly, and the bar is lower than those investing in the GOP should settle for. 

The GOP should scour the countryside for talent while building a farm team, as Newt Gingrich did in the 1980s when he envisioned a Republican House few believed possible. The ambitious Georgia congressman established the American Campaign Academy, an intense, 10-week campaign training camp dubbed “The West Point of politics” by Newsweek. For yours truly it proved nearly as valuable as my four years of college, after which I and my comrades in arms stormed the campaign trail putting to use what we’d absorbed, delivering results with fewer stumbles. We were ready.

The historic 1994 GOP takeover of Congress was, indeed, the House that Newt had been building for years. 

From small contributors to billionaires like casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, donors should demand that excellence and results take precedence over a buddy system overdue to be mothballed. Money won’t flow to campaigns with untrained, untested operatives, no matter how wonderful and promising the candidate, or how disastrous the opponent.

Jacobus is president and founder of Capitol Strategies PR. She has worked on Capitol Hill, managed congressional campaigns, and now appears on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, PBS and other venues.