Kids — and now, Republicans — say the darndest things

As the Republican Party works to ‘re-brand” itself, some high-profile Minnesota members seem to be testing a new messaging strategy that relies on a familiar marketing approach: Sex sells.
During the 1980s, and then again earlier this decade when Republicans were in power, they targeted their issues and their rhetoric to align with the self-named Moral Majority. Of course, that label implied that Democrats were the immoral minority. Now today, with the Democrats in control in Minnesota and in Washington, the GOP can regard them as the immoral majority or infidels. 

Particularly these days, a good quote has a lot of value in the media-are-dying, legislative-deadline-is-looming world we live in. And with the GOP trying to find relevance and new ideas after a few rough months, a well-timed, well-worded quote has never been more important.

As a result, vivid metaphors have been flying from GOP quotemeisters on all sorts of topics: torture, gambling and, most of all, sex.

Rep. Marty Seifert
Rep. Marty Seifert

The succession of sound bites started at a Minnesota Chamber breakfast a couple of Fridays ago, when Minority Leader Rep. Marty Seifert (the master of the one-liner, or so he thinks) equated taxes with waterboarding.  It was an uncomfortable moment for the uber-insider crowd of lobbyists and media in attendance — and if it doesn’t work in that setting, it’s not going to play in Pequot Lakes.

Seifert’s missing the mark, though, hasn’t prevented other Republicans in Minnesota from trying to come up with memorable lines.

And Minnesota appears to be the test market in seeing if sex will sell as part of the new GOP branding effort.

Leading the assault has been Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has continued her strategy of using sexual innuendo as a selling point for the conservative message.

At Saturday’s annual Jason Lewis rally for tax cuts, Bachmann tried to randy up the crowd.  First, she made a flirtatious pass at KTLK show host Chris Baker as a “handsome hunk of man.” Then, she carried on by comparing federal spending to an “orgy” and saying that the government had “spent its wad.”  The racy talk all came from the same woman who was “hot for god” during her 2004 election campaign.

Locally, the strategy is being used in the Minnesota House, where the debate over a primary seat-belt law led Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, to imply that Minnesota was selling itself to the federal government, or in his words: “I don’t think we should be prostituting ourselves for federal money.”  

The state is selling its values for federal money? And a primary seatbelt law is immoral? Taking money from the federal government in exchange for passing a law meant to protect the public something is the equivalent of the world’s oldest profession?

A little bit of sexual hyperbole perhaps.

All of this talk comes on the heels of the national gathering led by Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Activists gathered for a weekend circle-think about the future of the Republican Party and a re-branding effort. 

Romney did his part by testing the sexual dynamics within the GOP by suggesting that vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska made Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people for her looks, not her influence.

“But was that the issue on the most beautiful people, or the most influential people?” Romney asked.

Rep. Pat Garafalo
Rep. Pat Garafalo

One Minnesota Republican, Rep. Pat Garafalo of Farmington, seems to have missed the memo when he sponsored a bill defending citizens’ rights to gamble on the Internet and collect their winnings — all, of course, in the privacy of their homes. Garafalo equated the efforts of Gov. Pawlenty’s Department of Public Safety to stop online poker players with communism. 

While noting that he wasn’t condoning online gambling, Garafolo said, “I have serious concerns about government banning access to websites. This is the kind of thing they do in communist China, not the United States of America.”

Garafolo is right on that score, but that said, some of the YouTube clips and GOP quips that are circulating make me grimace about what my young children might hear next from the GOP quote machine.

The new Democratic talking point might be: Republicans say the darndest things.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Joel Rosenberg on 05/06/2009 - 10:09 am.

    Well, they’re going to have to come up with something, and talking points aren’t a bad idea. In a year in which it looks likely that the DFL is going to raise taxes over a veto, and in which it was spared a huge gun registration fight on the floor that Paymar tried to get you guys into because only because Dill was smart enough to protect his party by tabling HF 1238, the slogans are going to have to be real, real good.

    Heck, maybe, the Republicans will have some, too. How about “Pay More with Paymar!” ?

    I kinda like it.

  2. Submitted by Lisa Graas on 05/06/2009 - 10:19 am.

    Sarah Palin has been called “the turbanless Taliban” because of her pro-life stance which is shared by roughly half the country, her unwillingness to say with certainty that global warming is manmade (more than 40% of Americans believe it is caused by planetary trends), and because she believes in intelligent design (again, a view held by a majority of Americans).

    All she needs is the chance to get her own message out to the people that is not filtered through liberal sources calling her a reactionary extremist for holding mainstream views on these issues.

    Also, once it becomes known that she is one of the few voices willing to speak out for women subjected to brutal oppression by the REAL Taliban, while cultural relativists who call themselves feminists and saviors of women are silent, women in general, like those liberal feminists who supported her in Nevada, will not be happy with the attacks on Palin that are straight out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

    Sarah Palin is mainstream America, brilliant on energy policy and responsible development of natural resources, and much more. If she ever gets a real chance to talk directly to the people in spite of the yellow journalists who want to paint her as something she is NOT, radical and unprincipaled liberals (not principled liberals who can swallow her brand of conservatism where it protects the weakest in the world, like women subjugated under the Taliban) will be gasping for air.

  3. Submitted by Jim Schottmuller on 05/06/2009 - 10:44 am.

    “some of the YouTube clips and GOP quips that are circulating make me grimace about what my young children might hear next from the GOP quote machine.”

    Are you kidding? These fairly benign quotes are not nearly as offensive as the material children are indoctrinated with every day in our public schools.

  4. Submitted by Craig Westover on 05/06/2009 - 11:23 am.

    “The state is selling its values for federal money? And a primary seatbelt law is immoral? Taking money from the federal government in exchange for passing a law meant to protect the public something is the equivalent of the world’s oldest profession?”

    Look at it this way, Blois. The federal government doesn’t have the constitutional authority (for good reason) to mandate that states impose seatbelt laws, set the blood alcohol limit at .08 or impose a 55 MPH speed limit (or tell a state how to run its welfare programs or guess what’s coming next). But it effectively circumvents the Constitution when government pays the states to get what it wants — you want your highway dollars, you do it our way. Is it prostitution for the feds to pay for what the Constitution won’t allow it to do for free? I don’t know, but it certainly sucks. 🙂

  5. Submitted by Tom Horner on 05/06/2009 - 12:57 pm.

    Blois cleverly has seen through the Republican scheme. Where some see trite and well-worn political phrases, Blois calls attention to a well-orchestrated, covert effort to put compelling, clear and effective messages between the line. Well done, Blois. But let me say this, jsut because Michelle Obama is quoted — as she was yesterday speaking to the U.N, — that she is “on a high,” Republicans won’t be conceding the druggie vote to Democrats.

  6. Submitted by Patrick Lorch on 05/06/2009 - 01:16 pm.

    It’s lucky no Republicans talked about duty…or the juvenile snickering would be too much to contain…

    Beavis: Huh…huh..huh…she said orgy…

  7. Submitted by Dee Ann Christensen on 05/06/2009 - 02:12 pm.

    “These fairly benign quotes are not nearly as offensive as the material children are indoctrinated with every day in our public schools.”

    And…what is your experience with such indoctrination? Are you a teacher so you are intimately involved with this indoctrination such as talking about “an orgy” and “wads” Hmmmm! I have worked in public schools for over 20 years and have NEVER heard such gutteral language from a teacher. Yes, frequently I have heard such language from immature students working their way into adulthood

    Even if your accusation were true, is it too much to hope that public policy decision makers rise to a higher level of discourse than this?

  8. Submitted by Tom Horner on 05/06/2009 - 02:35 pm.

    Perhaps we are taking this a bit too seriously. “Orgy of spending” hardly is a provocative prhase or secret code for a sexual reference. And, as to the claim that teachers would NEVER use such gutteral language, I can cite at least one former professor who in fact did use that phrase. The exact quote from last fall:

    “John, it’s been your president who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time who presided over this increase in spending. This orgy of spending and enormous deficits.”

    I wonder what became of Professor Obama?

  9. Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/06/2009 - 02:57 pm.


    In finding a sexual reference in Bachmann’s statements at the Tax Cut Rally, I think you confused the meanings of “spent its wad” and “shot its wad”. Two very different meanings. You might consider consulting the when you are not quite sure of a word’s or a phrase’s meaning. Or maybe, you thought we readers wouldn’t notice; sorry. After that, I had to find something else to read.

  10. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/06/2009 - 04:58 pm.

    Mr. Westover — Maybe the interstate freeway system was a poor example to use if you are talking about the feds usurping states’ rights.

    That system actually is a national piece of infrastructure connecting all parts of the country that has more to do with public safety and defense than with federal “control” for its own sake. I would imagine thousands of lives have been saved by roads with two lanes going each way instead of one.

    Were construction not standardized, we would still have some highways that were higher in the center than at the outside edges (Iowa), huge variations in concrete content — with buckling on hot days in some states, et cetera.

  11. Submitted by Kevin Judd on 05/06/2009 - 08:14 pm.

    This is a very trite, shallow article; way below the par for Minn Post articles. Your calling this a pattern of sexual innuendo is bizarre.

    Well, even the great Ted Williams only batted .400, so you are due one or two articles for the waste bin.

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