Last Night in Republican Boston
There was a very good crowd from all over the state. Every announced GOP candidate from Cape Cod was there, along with both State Committee members and Cape Cod Republican Club officers. All had come to hear from the official head of the national Republican Party, Ken Mehlman.
Mehlman is no stranger to Massachusetts. He got his law degree from Harvard, and worked in Bill Weld’s first campaign. Before his election as Chairman in 2005, Mehlman served as campaign manager for Bush-Cheney ’04, and before that he served from 2001 to 2003 as White House Political Director. Mehlman was National Field Director for Bush-Cheney 2000, where he worked with the campaign leadership in all fifty states and the Republican National Committee to mobilize strong grassroots.
Before joining President Bush, Mehlman was Congresswoman Kay Granger’s Chief of Staff and Congressman Lamar Smith’s Legislative Director. At first glance, he looks very young, but he quickly emerges as a mature and thoughtful individual, with a dry wit. Perhaps his best known retort was to his counterpart, Howard Dean. When Dean claimed that the GOP was ‘a white, Christian party’, Mehlman remarked that his rabbi would be very surprised to hear that.
After a brief introduction from Massachusetts Party Chair Darrell Crate and a welcome from Lt. Governor Kerry Healy, Mehlman made the following remarks. Porcupine is not a tape recorder and did not take extensive notes, but this is the gist of what was said.
It’s great to be back in Massachusetts, and it’s fun to go around talking about how important this election is, but usually it’s not true. This time, it really is.
The Republican Party is the party of social innovation. Lincoln changed the nation and preserved it with the abolition of slavery. Theodore Roosevelt protected the working man from expoitation by trusts and monopolies. We as a party have had have had several crucial epochs. The Republican response to the Soviet Union after World War II, and the framework laid down in the 1940’s and 1950’s for the Cold War was such an epoch. In the 1960’s, the Republican leadership role in writing and passing civil rights and voting rights legislation was another such epoch. In the 1980’s, as Reagan changed the way the country defended itself and changed the world economy, we went through another such epoch. We are now engaged in another struggle like those. The global economy and the danger of international terrorism demand that the country learn once again to think in a different way. It is important that we remain strong, loyal to our allies and unafraid of those who seek to intimidate us. It is very important that the Congress remain in the hands of the Republicans, so I say to you that this is an important election year.
We will be able to do this by grass roots party building and by using the newest technologies intelligently and effectively. For instance, during the Superbowl, many of the ‘sought after’ ads were filled with promotional spots for ABC and for local affiliates. The ads were not all purchased, as the defining power of mainstream media is waning. Blogs are more important than ever. They have revised and defined debate in whole new ways, and the Party and the White House both pay close attention to what they have to say. It was Bloggers who contested the Miers nomination, and it was Bloggers who spotted the Rather forgeries. Their importance cannot be overstated. This is grass roots media, and grass roots information, and they make the Party strong in the same way that grass roots organizing makes our party strong.
Mehlman’s remarks were well received, and the crowd began to connect and network – exactly as Mehlman had described. Porcupine had a nice conversation with media analyst Charley Manning, and sympathized with him that since he was a mainstream media type, he was on the decline. Manning thinks he’ll survive just fine.
Later, Porcupine was struck by another facet of Ken Mehlman’s remarks. You can agree or disagree with his assessment of our status and his solutions for them, but the fact remains that he has a vision and a solution. This is precisely what Howard Dean is lacking. As a local example, I give you a link to the blog of Ray Clement, who has written a piece for CCToday called ‘What is Mitt Afraid Of?’ One of his blog entries is called ‘Why I Am Proud to Be a Massachusetts Liberal’ (HERE). Instead of stating what he believes or would like to accomplish, he writes only about how evil Republicans are. He allows his political enemies to entirely define him.
In Ken Mehlman, the GOP has a strong leader with a strong vision. Good thing he’s around for this important election year.