Framing the debate: Why Republicans are losing

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Over at the New York Post, John Podhoretz captures the zeitgeist. A trend has emerged: Republicans spend  about 90 percent of their time defending the least popular 10 percent of their policies.

Like the football team who never gets good field position, Republicans start every day backed up in their own end zone. Meanwhile, Democrats begin the day on the 50 yard line.

Most battles are won before they are fought. The side who picks the terrain usually wins. That side — for a long time, now — has been the left.

A couple recent examples:

… Rather than talking about defending the right to life, Republicans spent an inordinate amount of time in 2012 talking about whether a woman who was raped should be allowed to have an abortion. (I say inordinate, not because this is a trivial issue — it’s not — but because the primary goal of most pro-lifers is to prevent the use of abortion as birth control. This is a peripheral issue for most pro-lifers.)

… Rather than talking about cutting spending — or even cutting taxes for the middle class! — Republicans spend most of their time defending the rich from tax hikes.

Democrats have brilliantly outmaneuvered Republicans into a position where they are spending the vast majority of their time defending (what seems to many like) the indefensible.

These specific things aren’t even priorities for most conservatives. But principle, loyalty, stubbornness — and what some would call a foolish consistency — won’t allow Republicans to cast these heavy burdens off their sinking ship.

It wasn’t always this way. For years, the tables were reversed. Remember when Democrats were playing defense over partial-birth abortions and wanting to ban all guns?

It may be that Republicans are the victims of their own success. Having mostly won on a lot of big issues — the low-hanging fruit — all that is left to defend are the unpopular things.

That, of course, is cold comfort for a team that is constantly punting on fourth down.

Matt K. Lewis