Everyone agrees that Republicans had a messaging problem in the last election cycle. Luckily, they have found a strategy to solve that problem when addressing the gay marriage debate: just agree with all sides.
The strategy is as simple as it is genius: let those without power relay a soft, compassionate message, while those with power continue to push the conservative hard right agenda. That way, conservatives can fix the messaging by adding warm, bleeding-heart language to appeal to the liberal masses… all without actually changing any Republican policy standards.
Nowhere is this brilliant Karl Rove-ian strategy more apparent than in the current debate over marriage rights for same-sex couples. Read any headline in the liberal lame-stream media and you’ll see jubilant cries of “Prominent Republicans File Supreme Court Brief Against Proposition 8.” Yes, these “prominent” members of the Grand Old Party have bravely come out against the California ban on same-sex marriages. Liberals might think that Republican standards are changing, or that the party is somehow in disarray…. but this is all completely according to plan!
Almost all of these “prominent” Republicans are out of office and don’t really have positions of leadership in the party, but still: the messaging sounds great! We even have “high profile” Republican campaign staffers who have worked for the likes of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney signing on, even though they actively supported campaigns run on trying to ban marriages for gay couples with a federal constitutional amendment.
It really is a stroke of messaging genius—just ask Frank Luntz.
Of course, these brave conservatives who have nothing to lose since they are out office and really can’t influence the party in a substantive way can brilliantly distract from what the GOP leadership in power is actually doing.
For example, those champions of traditional values and conservative fiscal policy in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are stepping in to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” in the Supreme Court to the tune of over $3 million tax-payer dollars. In addition, Republicans on Capitol Hill are again attempting to change the U.S. military code with a bill introduced in the House to ban same-sex marriages on military bases after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Republicans in actual positions of power even bravely held up the “Violence against Women Act” because it included provisions to protect women in same-sex relationships.
And let’s not forget that the Republican party platform itself, which had its plank on marriage written by religious right leaders like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is still completely against equal rights for gay people. The platform opposes marriage equality and supports a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the “union of one man and one woman.”
But pay no attention to the white, heterosexual man behind the curtain! Not when we can get the media to focus on the great and powerful handful of out-of-office conservatives who can “fix” the messaging by signing a court brief.