First let me say I love you, man, and I’ll always think of you as my mentor. You taught me how to do campaigns. You saved me years of trial and error and a shitload of losses. And I truly appreciate you thinking of me and sending work my way.
I know you know there’s a “but” coming. Here it is: But there is no way I can take on Congressman Burke as a client.
I want to be straight with you – it’s not because I’m already overcommitted (has a consultant ever even said that word?) or because we couldn’t agree on the size of my retainer. It’s because I’m convinced he’s going to get killed in the primary, and no consultant on this planet can prevent it.
Ed – excuse me, Edmund – Burke is just too out of step with conservatism.
I met him at a diner in Bristol earlier this week. Caught him on a very bad day. On the drive over, I flipped through the talk radio shows. The hosts were eating him alive, and the callers – my God, haven’t heard anger like that since Bruce Jenner came out as a woman. Worse, from what I heard not one surrogate of Burke’s called in to defend him. And I checked later, no counter-messaging at all on Twitter. Nothing, like maybe his campaign doesn’t have a social media director.
The headline in the morning paper was pretty bad, too. “Burke: Don’t Tell Me How to Vote – You’re Just Bristolians!” And what did he say when the reporter called him for comment? “Please refer to the text of my speech.”
The speech was the fucking problem!
Since you probably haven’t seen the clippings – yet – Politico is about to jump on this story – here’s some of what he told the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.
[Constituents’] wishes ought to have great weight with their representative; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
I know – just take a few seconds with that. He might as well send out a flyer to every R household in the district that says “I’m better than you in every way.” Unbiased opinion, mature judgment, enlightened conscience? Jesus! When was the last time you ever heard a pol who won a seat in Congress claim any of those things?
How did this guy ever get elected in the first place?
Then he said this:
Congress is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Congress is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of Congress.
How do you walk something like that back?
I pull a copy of the newspaper out of my jacket pocket and I’m waving it around in front of him, throwing this stuff in his lap. And he says “the electors of Bristol” will get the “reasonableness” of what he said and “come into harmony” with his position.
I nearly choke on my coffee. Electors? He doesn’t even call them voters.
Did you know reporters were in the room, I ask. Of course, he says. Then I swear he calls me a goose.
I keep pounding away, telling him about all the polling data showing that if the GOP base wasn’t in the mood for his schtick in 2010, man, oh man – they’re downright murderous this cycle.
He just smiles this weird, kind of amused smile and stares at me. Doesn’t say a thing.
I ask is there anything else I need to know about, apart from this neutron bomb of a speech. He goes on smiling and says, still amused, “yes, I am writing a book about the revolution in France.”
“The French Revolution?”
“No, the revolution in France.”
“Pro or con?”
Then he goes off about pruning away the dead parts of the plant – and only the dead parts – in order to save the whole thing. The plant being government.
I cut him off there, smile politely, and tell him straight out he doesn’t get the GOP base. Conservatives are about revolution. We make a few minutes of polite conversation, I pay the bill, and leave.
I know this seems like a rant, but I just want to make totally clear to you how vulnerable this guy is in the primary – and to see if you want to team up to find the right challenger. I got a promising lead from one of my contacts: a fire-breathing bartender who calls in to the talk shows every day, without fail, and is a master of the Tweet smackdown.
Interested? If so, we have to move quickly.
Anyway, thanks again for the referral. Sorry it didn’t work out. But now we have a chance to put a real conservative in that seat and make a shit ton of fees to boot.