Used to be, during the rise of neo-conservatism, that right-wing politicians proudly and directly claimed the identifiers of Republican and conservative. This is when so many voters were still bamboozled by the empty promise of trickle-down economics. Nancy Reagan wore red and Ronnie drove up the nation’s credit card. Before George W. Bush and his chickenhawk handlers war-whooped us all into debt and embarrassed a critical mass of us with avarice and stupidity.
What do we have now from some of New Jersey’s leading Republicans up for office? Now, we get modifiers in front of those right-wing identifiers:
Joe Kyrillos: (“a different kind of”) Republican.
Leonard Lance: (“principled”) conservative.
I find this amusing, and a sign of weakness in their position; a failure of strength in the way both campaigns self-present.
Kyrillos, whose campaign is wholly-dependent on the twin crutches of Chris Christie and Sheldon Adelson, is introduced by his wife Susan as a “different kind of Republican” in this a gauzy, beach-strolling ‘n blue jeans TV spot, playing up her opinion of the candidate as a dad. Now, why should I care that he “sees a world of possibility in our children, Max & Georgia”? I mean, good for the kids. But stop pandering to me. There’s a reason Republicans, including you, have a big gender gap to overcome. We’re smart cookies, and we pay more attention to your voting record than your papa-credentials before we vote. And we do vote. And you, Joe Kyrillos, are not a different kind of Republican. You’re pretty standard issue, and if you’re elected, you’re just party-disciplined enough to take your congressional marching orders from the GOP’s deep-tread antagonism toward women. No thanks.
I’ll leave most of the analysis of Leonard Lance’s campaign to others. A member of my household is campaign manager of Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula’s congressional campaign against Lance (a DCCC “Emerging Race”). But I will say Lance’s current TV spot features a lot of shots of wife Heidi standing by his side, speaking of pandering when your voting record sucks. Lance’s primary ad featured crutch Christie, plus a roster of tea party-approved and other GOP demi-stars. His 2012 (and 2010) primary challenger was tea partier David Larsen. The Leonard Lance of his legislature days posed himself as a moderate (he wasn’t really). Congressional Leonard Lance is a garden-variety GOP lock-stepper who has sold his soul and lowered himself to neo-conservative levels to try and stay in Congress. (Don’t even take our word on it, the bible on this is The Curious Transformation of N.J. Congressman Leonard Lance, by Tom Moran in Star-Ledger).
As you can see, a lot of “modifying” going on.