Take a look at these further passages from Robert Draper’s NYT Magazine story about the future of the GOP. The main theme is that young Republicans trying to figure out how to jump-start the party are being thwarted by various factors, among them the GOP’s corporate conservatism (which means party bigs are preventing innovation and innovators from rising within the party and bringing their skills and sensibilities to rebuilding it). Draper stops off to interview Obama political strategist David Plouffe:
Plouffe cut his teeth as the deputy chief of staff of Representative Dick Gephardt, whose impressive farm team also included those who would go on to be White House advisers, like Paul Begala, George Stephanopoulos and Bill Burton. Now it was the Obama operation that, he said, “is going to generate a lot of people who are going to run presidential and Senate campaigns.” They were apt pupils of a campaign that was “a perfect-storm marriage between grass-roots energy and digital technology.” He continued: “Not having that is like Nixon not shaving before his first debate — you’ve got to understand the world you’re competing in. Our thinking always was, We don’t want people when they interact with the Obama campaign to have it be a deficient experience compared to how they shop or how they get their news. People don’t say, ‘Well, you’re a political campaign, so I expect you to be slower and less interesting.’ Right? We wanted it to be like Amazon. And I still don’t think the Republicans are there.”
But, I asked Plouffe, wasn’t the G.O.P. just one postmodern presidential candidate — say, a Senator Marco Rubio — away from getting back into the game?
Pouncing, he replied: “Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.”
Plouffe readily conceded that he and his generation held no iron grip on political wisdom, but then he flashed a grin when I brought up the R.N.C.’s Growth and Opportunity Project, composed of party stalwarts. “If there’s a review board the Democrats put together in 2032, or even 2020, and I’m on it,” he said, “we’re screwed.”
To Plouffe’s point: here are the chairmen of the Growth And Opportunity Project. They’re veteran party regulars, senior party figures. The youngest ones, Mississippi’s Henry “Nephew of Haley” Barbour, and Florida’s Sally Bradshaw (who worked in the Bush White House — the George H.W. Bush White House, that is) are in their late 40s. The black member is a retired banker and head of the South Carolina GOP who, judging by his resume, is about 50. The Latina member looks to be about as old as my mom. And there’s Ari Fleischer. Middle-aged (or older) Republican insiders — this is the brain trust the RNC has put in charge of figuring out how to reach new voters. I don’t think the Democrats have a thing to worry about from this bunch.