GOPers Turn It Up To 11!

Probably in response to chronic conservative complaints that it doesn’t stand for anything, and possibly as motivated by its even more chronic low approval ratings, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus made a speech this morning at George Washington University laying out “what’s driving the Republican Party. People know what we’re against. I want to talk about the things we’re for.”

So with that “here comes some messaging” intro, Priebus presents eleven totally commonplace yet uncomfortably incongruent items that fit together like hummus on a donut. Why eleven? I dunno. Maybe it’s the same impulse that led Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel to promote an amplifier with a volume dial that goes up to eleven. It sounds more impressive than than usual ten. Or maybe the task of squeezing GOP boilerplate into ten slogans was just too much work.

In any event, let’d do a whirlwind tour of these eleven “principles.” Number one is support for “the Constitution,” which sounds reasonable enough, though Priebus seems to think it simply means states’ rights. Seriously. Number two is Growing the Economy, and that, of course, means Getting Washington Out of the Way so the private sector can create jobs, which is Republicans’ idea of a “positive” jobs agenda. Number three is that old chestnut, a Balanced Budget Amendment. Can you feel the excitement?

Number four is to repeal Obamacare and come up with a replacement “that reduce costs, provide greater access to world-class care, and give Americans more control over their healthcare decisions.” Love the specificity here. Number five is Respecting Veterans, and the big idea here seems to be privatizing VA services wherever possible. Sixth we have Keeping Us Safe, which seems to strictly involve getting rid of Obama, but might be interpreted as calling for an increase in defense spending.

Number seven is about education, which is apparently coextensive with School Choice, by which Republicans mean private-school vouchers. Number eight is turning over antipoverty programs to the states (those entities whose malfeasance made federal antipoverty programs necessary to begin with). Ninth is a combo platter of Values Republican Respect–values, religion, life, work. No indication that means tax cuts, noncompliance with antidiscrimination laws, or abortion bans, but whatever. Tenth is apparently Energy Independence, which means Keystone XL pipeline approval, of course.

“Principle” eleven actually is interesting, because if I not mistaken it represents an official abandonment of comprehensive immigration reform by the GOP:

As a nation of immigrants, we must fix our broken immigration system. We can’t reward those who break the laws and punish those who lawfully wait in line. Legal immigration has strengthened this country, and we want to continue that legacy and protect the American worker.

Thank you, Steve King.

So that’s it. Pretty perfunctory at best, and more than likely meant to be mentioned rather than read. Hey, look, conservative critics, look, pundits, we got eleven–not just ten, but eleven–principles to show what we’ll do other than shriek about Obama and Benghazi! and the IRS and Secular Socialism every day! It goes up to eleven!

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.