Yesterday at a panel at AEI, I asked the incoming chair of the Republican Study Committee whether he thought firing staffer Derek Khanna because of a controversial copyright memo was a wise decision for a party that needs to be reaching younger voters, many of whom care about the issue. The original memo was retracted within 24 hours of its release. RSC communications director Brian Straessle assured me via Twitter that a memo sufficiently inclusive of both the free market position and that of the music industry would be forthcoming, so I also asked when we could expect it. Rep. Steve Scalise gave a rambling non-answer, as Red Alert Politics reports:
Scalise responded with an overview of the RSC’s grand vision as a whole and did not specifically respond to the question. He neither explained how the House’s Republican caucus planned to reach out to young voters or how it would handle the issue of copyright reform in the future.
He also said the RSC staff “provides a critical role of giving us the information and the tools we need to go to battle,” but his focus will be mainly on the members of the RSC, on making sure they are united and focused to fight the battles. Scalise added that the RSC has a “great staff led by Paul Teller and a number of others” – which is ironic given that the author of the copyright memo, Derek Khanna, and other staff members of the RSC will be dismissed at the beginning of Scalise’s tenure as RSC chair in January.
He did indeed talk at length about the need to be sensitive to members and make sure they project a united front. Perhaps that means they intend to build support among the House conservative caucus around copyright reform, which could actually be a winning issue in partisan terms for the GOP. That’s not likely, though. I’m hesitant to believe it means anything more than, “we don’t intend to take reforming the massive anti-competitive legal nightmare that is our copyright system seriously so long as Marsha Blackburn and the RIAA object.”