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Republicans Keep Making Completely Unforced Errors So The Media Will Like Them

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the presidential campaign trail in Goodyear, Arizona. Gage Skidmore.

Critical race theory is targeting our children and infiltrating our media. Boys are being subjected to castration by mentally ill parents and their enablers in the mental health and medical fields.

Hollywood, the National Basketball Association, and leading tech companies are subservient to a fiercely hostile foreign dictatorship. Democrats have launched an inquisition against their political opponents under the banner of the 9/11 Commission and with unlimited access to Congress’s documents. Businesses cannot find young workers to hire while the federal government pays them to stay home.

Instead this week, the news is about how House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took the stage to condemn a back-bencher in his own caucus. Not content to be left out of a suicide party, former Speaker Paul Ryan took a break from his corporate boards Thursday, announcing he would give a speech to denounce former President Donald Trump.

Of course, if McCarthy doesn’t want to be bogged down by comments from a popular but ill-disciplined freshman member of his caucus, then he shouldn’t be — and the not-so-difficult trick to that is not talking about it. If he needs a pointer or an instructional YouTube video on the subject, he can do a quick web search for “Nancy Pelosi asked about antisemitic ‘Squad.'”

As for Ryan, if he doesn’t want the GOP to be a party of Trump, then he might present a serious alternative and not more of the same policies and platforms that saw him on the losing presidential ticket (against a then-unpopular President Barack Obama) then saw him leave Washington with little done aside from panel discussions and news articles about how “wonky” he was.

“A big part of the upheaval we’re experiencing in American politics is because the leadership of both parties lacks any coherent vision,” conservative consultant Jordan Gehrke wrote in April, addressing the kvetching of many of his peers and colleagues — and he’s completely right.

Leadership isn’t imposed from speeches by people who had power and failed to exercise it prudently, and no one wants to hear from Paul Ryan. In the same vein, leadership is setting the path forward and not playing the statement game with a hostile, dishonest, and deeply discredited corporate media rage machine.

While Ryan’s tenure was nearly useless, McCarthy’s has been far from it. The House’s gains in 2016 owe some credit to his understanding of the political moment he was in and acting accordingly. But the same fault as Ryan’s holds him back from truly steering an already difficult Republican caucus: the deep urge to be popular.

In any aspect of life, it is impossible to be a leader if you simply want everybody to like you. Ryan preferred the applause of the American Enterprise Institute set to fighting the left, and it showed.

When McCarthy was faced with a back-stabbing, self-serving ego-maniac on his leadership staff — and fully held the political power to end her time in leadership — he preferred instead to share the blame for kicking Rep. Liz Cheney back to the benches with the entire House caucus. The result? A drag-out fight in full view of a media who care far more for Republican infighting than they do White House reporting.

Does Pelosi play those games? Does Majority Leader Steny Hoyer? When, hot in the middle of a war in Israel, elected Democrats decide to slam America’s allies as a racist state or say something stupid about the Holocaust, do Democratic leaders condemn them? No? That’s strange. It’s almost like they’re focused on Republicans instead.

Despite the media lessons given us by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, and Donald Trump, Republicans of nearly every stripe have continued to play in the media sandbox. The price has always been clear enough: If you want to talk about your agenda, talk about the future, talk about critical race theory, talk about mutilating children, talk about Chinese collusion, talk about an unfettered inquisition, talk about the destruction of our economy, talk about Pelosi, talk about the conspiracy theorists and Marxists and racists and antisemites in the Democratic Party. If you want to play the media’s game, you need to sacrifice a Republican ally.

These are completely unforced errors — and it’s past time to stop playing games. With our children, our military, and our freedom on the line, serious leaders must play for keeps.