Re: J.C. Watts and the RNC
posted at 12:45 pm on December 3, 2012 by Guy Benson
Ed, I read your post on former Congressman Watts and the RNC Chairmanship with great interest. Like you, I have great admiration for Watts — but I also think Reince Priebus has done a remarkable job at the helm of the national committee, the election results notwithstanding. People tend to misidentify the practical job description of the RNC chair, which sometimes leads to a misplaced impulse to hold him or her accountable for all of the party’s ills. First and foremost, the RNC chief’s role is to ensure that the party is well funded. Messaging, personnel, and other considerations certainly matter, but resources are king. On that front, Priebus has excelled; he worked feverishly to restore trust among top donors and turned a moribund, debt-plagued organization around over a short time span. There are many reasons why Mitt Romney lost in November. In my opinion, Reince Prebius was definitively not one of them. This is not to say that JC Watts is incapable of doing a very good job in this position, or that he’s unworthy of a shot. Far from it. But the nuts and bolts of core RNC operations aren’t broken, and I worry that yet another change at the top could be unnecessarily disruptive. I recognize that a high turnover rate is often par for the course for this office, but I’m not convinced that it makes sense to replace the ‘incumbent’ at this point in time. Also, based on my experience, Priebus is one of the few members of the GOP “establishment” who isn’t reviled by much of the base. He understands the grassroots because he’s a product of those grassroots.
All that being said, some of Watts’ insights about the woeful state of GOP outreach to certain constituencies do strike a real chord. Some things must change, especially on this front. Might Priebus consider establishing a task force to address these shortcomings in a long-term, strategic manner? Watts is absolutely right that the window dressing of election year “coalitions” and quadrennial pandering is not a solution; if anything, it insults the very voters Republicans are trying (poorly) to attract. If such a team is assembled, I’d nominate Watts as chair or co-chair. No matter its genesis, this work is imperative, and it needs to start now. A final note about national party chairs: Democrats won in 2012 despite the unlikeability, hyper-partisanship and fiscal mismanagement of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — yet it appears that she’ll keep her job. It would be unfortunate for Republicans to watch DWS retain her perch while ousting Priebus, in my view.