Two years ago, former Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Davis lamented, "The Republican brand is in the trash can...if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf." Now 24 months later, Republican leaders have abandoned their second attempt to rebrand their tainted product. Nevertheless, the American people seem determined to restock the House with it.
While the first failed GOP effort to bleach the stain of George W. Bush ended with a bang, the latest died with a whimper. In May 2008, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) unveiled to great fanfare - and even greater laughter - the new Republican slogan, "The Change You Deserve." Sadly for downcast conservatives, that tag line was already in use by the anti-depressant Effexor. Worse still, the FDA took issue with the drug ad for "unsubstantiated superiority claims" in the treatment of "of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in adults," symptoms that could easily have described the post-Bush electorate.
Now, as ThinkProgress reported Friday, number two House Republican Eric Cantor has "suspended" his party's latest extremist makeover before it could even reach the punch line stage. (Fittingly, visiting the wethepeopleplan.org web site announced its press release produces an error.) Unsurprisingly, a Cantor spokesman John Murray blamed Democrats for the failure of his much-hyped National Council for a New America:
He blamed the demise of the council on "relentless" attacks from Democrats. The organization also was the target of an ethics complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, claiming Cantor's office had violated House rules regarding funding for political organizations.
Murray said the complaint has been dismissed.
When the council was set up, Cantor said the plan was to hold town halls around the country to allow average Americans to state their views. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the council would be bipartisan.
The council held just one town hall meeting. Cantor and two Republican former governors, Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, attended that session, May 2, 2009, at an Arlington County pizza parlor.
As it turns out, pizza could be a good place to start for the Republicans. Earlier this year, Domino's Pizza launched an" honesty campaign" to let Americans know it had reformulated a product its own customers derided as tasting like "cardboard." (Like the GOP, Domino's was led by a reactionary: its founder Tom Monaghan left the company to bake his own Catholic city and university from scratch in Florida.)
Despite Cantor's setback in redefining what GOP stands for, the Republicans are poised for massive gains in the 2010 midterm elections. Unlike Toyota and BP, the GOP is being rewarded for marketing defective products including a record-setting number of filibusters and an unprecedented blockade of presidential nominees. Apparently for Republicans, nothing succeeds like failure.