How fitting that it's two Richard Nixon advisers who have penned, for the Washington Post, a dark, morbid, brooding advisory memo to the GOP. The paper's headline writer slapped this on it: "Memo to GOP: Forget 2016. Start thinking 2018 and 2020." With modesty intact, I'd argue that my headline is immensely more apposite.
Richard Allen and Tom Korologes (both, deputy assistants in Nixon's White House) propose, to their party, "a four-point plan for moving forward." Since time tends to move forward, it's difficult to imagine that Allen and Korologes could have been more stylistically redundant. This is what often happens to the brain when one spends the height of one's professional career writing memoranda to presidents. Still — and here's the kicker — in contradiction to their redundancy, the advisers' four-point plan points every which way but forward. It's not even a four-point plan; it is, rather a three-point manual for crushing stagnation and a one-fingered attitude thrusted at the American electorate.
The first point of Allen and Korologes' "plan" is merely an acknowledgement of the obvious: that Hillary Clinton is going to win the White House. Indeed, "It appears a political landslide will sweep the country," they observe. The authors, however, are far from disconsolate about this. "The larger [her] margin," they add, "the greater the chances a Clinton administration will overplay its hand, handing Republicans a clear opportunity to repair the damage in 2018 and 2020." That, you will observe, is not a plan but a Clintoncentric bet; one that I'd bet against. (On the other hand, if the Clinton administration so much as honors the Chinese New Year on 28 January 2017 or "Kansas Day" on the 29th, congressional Republicans will bellow that the young administration is overplaying its hand, and declare that all-out countermeasures are called for.)
As for the authors' three-point plan, it entails "clean[ing] house at the Republican National Committee and chang[ing] the primary rules that allowed Trump to win the nomination." That second objective could be tricky, since the sprawling apparatuses of the state parties set the primary rules. Reince Priebus' sacking would seem to be a given, though, since somebody must take the fall. As rewarding as that might be, this other "option" is even more so: The GOP must "creat[e] superdelegates," urge the authors. Enough of this populism shit. Is it any wonder that mobs lead to mobocracy?
At last we come to Allen and Korologes' politically meatier two-point plan — the essence of crushing stagnation and the middle finger. One:
There will be more than 2,000 presidential appointees, many requiring Senate confirmation — the entire Cabinet and sub-Cabinet, agency heads and commissions. Republicans should pick and choose carefully the most egregious liberals [that would be all of them] and expose their views. Pending Supreme Court nominees still require 60 votes for cloture, and although the pressure to confirm nominees will be heavy, it is not unheard of to vote against justices (think about Robert Bork) or to postpone confirmation hearings indefinitely.
With a Republican House, attention-getting hearings can be held every week on the inevitable missteps in a Clinton administration. The domestic scene, from the economy to health care to trade to infrastructure, will quickly ripen for congressional oversight. Meanwhile, Republicans can shift focus to the midterms.
In short, gut the administration before its born; normalize the Senate's grotesque refusal to permit the president the execution of her constitutionally mandated duty of filling Supreme Court vacancies; flood the House with a torrent of Whitewaterlike investigations masquerading as policy oversight as well as overt Whitewaterlike investigations; and otherwise practice nothing but politics, politics, politics. Allen and Korologes propose no policies, no alternative visions, no anything of any actual governance; they suggest nothing — nothing at all — about moving the nation forward.
This could backfire. I can't say how soon President Clinton would come out swinging. But I can say, through the power of empirical observation, that her character is void of easy intimidation. She will not sit in the Oval Office playing solitaire and doing little else but responding to subpoenas as a bunch of middle-aged white male reactionary goons attempt to boss her around. She would counterpunch soon enough, reminding those landsliding voters who "swept" her into office that the GOP is answering with: Fuck you, fuck you all; as far as we're concerned, what you really voted for was yet another four years of crushing stagnation.
In that event Republicans won't be the only ones shifting focus to the midterms. And that's when things could get interesting. Can the Clinton machine put an end to off-year Democratic sloth? That, though not soon enough, we'll likely find out.
Likely, not certainly. There's always the chance that some significant portion of congressional Republicans will ignore Allen, Korologes & Co., and instead decide to help govern. The party's 2016 thumping could be that severe. This prospect avails even more interest, for it would signal the formal fracturing of the Grand Old Party. The internal strain would be too much to bear. Either the reddest, tea-partying fringe would splinter off, or the fringe would devour the party whole, leaving the moderates only a third-party option.