If you ask establishment media pundits and commentators who was the most influential person in the presidential campaign of 2012 most will of course say Barack Obama, but Obama did not win re-election by himself.
Obama had a lot of help from everyone in the liberal establishment from former President Bill Clinton, to billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, to billionaire talk TV icon Oprah Winfrey, to CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.
However, whatever each of them may have done to help re-elect Barack Obama, by our estimation their contributions pale in comparison to the contribution of ABC's chief political correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week."
For those of you who have put the Republican primaries out of mind, let me take you back to the January 7, 2012 Republican debate at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College, when Stephanopoulos hounded Mitt Romney on the issue of contraception as decided in the 1965 Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut.
That night Stephanopoulos, whether on his own or with a boost from Obama’s campaign advisers, such as David Axelrod, singlehandedly kicked-off the Obama campaign’s “Republican war on women” narrative. The successful promotion of that phony “issue” eventually led to Obama’s huge margin with young single women and arguably his victory in the swing states he needed to win to defeat Mitt Romney.
We said at the time that Stephanopoulos’ line of questioning was intended create a phony gender gap, and that radical liberal feminists from Nancy Pelosi to Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell were all working off the same set of talking points.
We also said then that whether the Democrats’ gambit would work or not depended upon whether the Republicans stayed on message and kept the discussion focused on religious freedom, the Constitution and respect for the traditional family, or they allowed themselves to be sucked into an argument over liberal feminist grievances.
Stephanopoulos’ seeming left-field questions on contraception at St. Anselm’s also set-up the Sandra Fluke incident that made a feminist martyr out of the previously unknown law student, who later hit the campaign trail promoting the “Republican war on women” narrative for Obama.
Republicans should not hand this much power and influence to a media figure, like Stephanopoulos, who is clearly in the Democrat camp. Imagine a debate between the candidates for President in which Sean Hannity, Michael Barone and Laura Ingraham asked the questions.
Such a debate will never happen because the Democrats don’t feel the need to pretend that conservative journalists and commentators are “nonpartisan” or to pander to the conservative media the way establishment Republicans feel compelled to pander to the national media.
The result of this compulsion to pander is that Republican presidential candidates are always set up with “got ya” questions that are intended to make them look stupid, or questions straight from the Democrats’ talking points, like George Stephanopoulos’ questions on contraception.
Of course it did not occur to us back in January that the Republican candidate for president would simply ignore the Democrats’ attacks, and not only fail to keep the conversation focused on those elements of the discussion that were winning issues for Republicans, but pretend the argument wasn’t even happening.
Mitt Romney lost the “Republican war on women” debate because he never really got in the fight, and a charge unanswered is a charged believed, but if Republicans don’t stop pandering to the establishment media they will get set up again in 2016.
The GOP will remain the party of stupid as long as Republicans agree to cede so much power to liberals like George Stephanopouos, who was allowed to become the most influential figure in the 2012 election by moderating the Republican debate at St. Anselm’s, despite his hostility to Republican candidates and the conservative agenda.