Luntz Switching Sides?
by Chris Bowers, Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:30:22 AM EST
Said one House GOP leadership aide: "That's why we don't want Frank Luntz at our retreat. We're not sure what side he's on. We're not sure if he's on the side of the companies paying him, on the side of the GOP, or on the side of the Democrats."
Meanwhile, the Washington Post provides some background on the 1998 feud between Luntz and newly-elected House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) that led to the controversy. I find this particularly interesting because I'm a hack rather than a wonk. Even though I am really, really left wing (to a degree that may shock some readers), when it comes to politics my mind is focused more on political machines and institutional power than on public policy. For this reason I think that it is particularly important that Republicans seem to be sending off one of the main cogs in their political machine. The basic reason behind this seems to be a combination of revenge and that Boehner views political strategy different than past Republican leaders:After the 1998 midterms, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) resigned -- in part because Republicans failed to gain seats in a year when President Bill Clinton was battling impeachment. Days before the GOP caucus met to hold leadership elections, Boehner appeared on several Sunday talk shows making clear that he and Gingrich had often parted ways on strategy.
Luntz said at the time that Boehner made a "big mistake" by criticizing Gingrich, and he heaped praise on Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.), who was challenging Boehner for the conference chairmanship. Watts beat Boehner -- throwing the Ohioan unceremoniously out of leadership.
Eight years later, Boehner is back, and even Luntz acknowledged in an e-mail to his staff that the Ohio member "is not a fan of myself or my work," according to an account in Roll Call. "That's just the way it is." This could simply be a personal dispute, but it could also be that Republicans are going to begin moving in a different strategic direction under Boehner. Considering recent Republican success, that is fine by me. As long as he sticks to the strategy side and not policy, I'll happily welcome a successful political consultant like Frnak Luntz over to our side. After all, could he really do any worse than our guys?