Like Chris, I think Dave Weigel's point that the GOP is now equating press heat with a comeback rings deeply true. They're completely obsessed with winning the media "cycle" and getting the sexiest, most provocative quotes on TV, an attitude that yields the kind of overblown dreck RNC chair Michael Steele is now spouting. This obsession was born, I think, during last summer's drilling fight with Nancy Pelosi in the House, which Republicans cite constantly as the moment that will someday be recognized as the beginning of their rebirth, their A.D. 0: They mounted a lot of antics, their brazenly hyperbolic rhetoric ended up all over the news, and a frightened Pelosi backed down. When I talked to a number of conservatives for a story on the future of the congressional GOP, many -- Marsha Blackburn, Louie Gohmert, Republican Study Committee chair Tom Price -- explained to me that the energy fight had proven this to them: The GOP lost power due to a failure to communicate its ideas. "Communication" was the it word within the minority. "We need to improve the ways we communicate," Price told me, reminiscing about the drilling battle: "It [the energy fight] was spontaneous, it was different, it captured the public's attention. We made clear we were passionate."
It's a delusion of Blagojevichian proportions to think that the public turned against Republicans due to their failure to "communicate" their fitness for office. (As Arizona Representative Jeff Flake, a hard-core right-winger who doubts the whole bad-communication theory, put it to me: "Could we have communicated Jack Abramoff better?") But they seem to be operating on a further error in logic, too: that "improving" one's p.r. means simply "amping it up." Call it the Britney Spears School of Politics: Yeah, saying a lot of extreme, brazen, antic things and inviting the paparazzi to come watch will get you quoted and will get your mug on TV. But you may find out that not every kind of fame is the good kind.