Death Rattle of the Rebranding Project

I predicted on Friday that we would soon hear Republicans complaining that had Benghazi! Benghazi! been fully “vetted” before last November, Mitt Romney would be president today and we’d be surveying the devastation being wrought by rapid passage of the Ryan Budget. Now that the “IRS Scandal” talk is already reaching a fever-pitch, we’ll hear much more of this kind of revisionist history, and it’s appropriate that we are hearing it first from that fine statesman Donald Trump (per Politico‘s Kevin Cirilli):

Donald Trump said Monday that if the details surrounding the IRS targeting tea party groups and last week’s Benghazi hearing had come out last fall, President Barack Obama might not have won reelection.

“This is a big, big story that is probably going to get a lot bigger,” Trump said of the IRS scandal on Fox News. “This is a terrible thing. It’s just not supposed to happen. They have laws against it. If this were somebody else, this would be the biggest story.”

Trump continued: “I’ve been watching it for the last four days getting bigger and bigger and even some of our liberal friends are sort of saying this is really bad. Between this and Benghazi, Benghazi — had this come out like this before the election, you could have had a different result.”

Yes, he actually said “Benghazi” twice, like an incantation, much as I’ve been mockingly doing myself off and on for months.

Before long, I betcha, two strands of thought on the Right will converge: the notion that Romney lost because “discouraged” conservative white voters stayed home, and a revival of the same argument we heard after 2008 that the GOP candidate failed to exploit Obama’s vulnerabilities aggressively enough (you know, William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright in 2008, Benghazi! and now the IRS in 2012).

The bigger picture here is that we are hearing the death rattle of the brief and often insincere GOP “rebranding” project. Who needs Latinos or better GOTV or a less savage image? All the Republican Party needs is more vetting of the opposition, and ruthless pols willing to take the fight to the enemy without inhibition. So much for the “fever” breaking.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.