Frank Rich: GOPers Should ‘Commit a Crime’ to Get on Debate Stage

During an appearance on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night, liberal New York magazine writer Frank Rich fantasized over the ways in which lesser-known GOP presidential candidates could make their way onto the first debate stage. 

Speaking to Maddow, Rich attacked the GOP and argued that if candidates want to make the first debate they could “commit a crime. They could come up with a more outrageous form of bigotry than Trump has.” 

Maddow eagerly agreed with her liberal guest and suggested that “provoking some kind of outrage is the only way that somebody who’s right now below the cutoff could actually  get discussed enough to bump somebody out of the top ten and get onto the stage.” 

Rich used Trump’s highly controversial comments about Mexican immigrants to falsely create a supposed new standard for GOP candidates if they want to make it onto the first debate stage

The only way to provoke outrage is to say something outrageous, as Trump has mastered, or take some crazily out there policy position that riles up the troops or to commit a crime or get involved in a scandal, preferably a sex scandal, although perhaps not one involving Bill Cosby.

While Maddow did not agree with Rich’s suggestion that GOPers should engage in a sex scandal to get attention, the MSNBC host maintained that the GOP has gotten so extreme that even a Republican pushing liberal policy ideas wouldn’t earn them attention: 

It has to be something so right wing that it gets -- they have to take a position that’s so right wing that it is shocking enough that FOX News talks about it and other Republicans feel like they need to either distance themselves from it or not. I mean, maybe that’s the effect.

Rich continued to parrot Maddow’s views on the 2016 GOP field and concluded the segment by spewing more liberal talking points about the “outrageous” views coming out of the Republican Party: 

If you say something shocking that’s appealing to him, you will get airtime from the daily grind on the FOX circuit, but what’s left I mean, they’ve taken such outrageous -- you know, self-deportation now seems like a moderate position in the Republican Party.

See relevant transcript below. 

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show

July 6, 2015

RACHEL MADDOW: Joining us is Frank Rich, writer at large for New York magazine Frank, thanks for being here, it’s great to see you.

FRANK RICH: Good to see you.He has a future [Jeb Bush] in animation if this thing doesn’t work out.

MADDOW: That’s right, or doing the sort of like -- I once had a bird call book where you could look at the picture of the bird and play the bird call next to it. We could have Jeb Bush doing the owl. The turkey. 

RICH: Big future, and lot of money.

MADDOW: All right. So you’re John Kasich, you’re Carly Fiorina, you’re Rick Santorum, you’ve got one month to try to spike in the national polls or you are basically not allowed to run. You’re politically dead in the water. What would you spend the next month doing? How would you do it?

RICH: I’d do what Stephen Colbert did, take over a public access show and do television. You know, half of Trump’s poll numbers are due to his - - the fact he’s a television star. What can they do? There’s no policy position they can have that’s going to create a stir in the dog days of the summer. They could, I don’t know, commit a crime. They could come up with a more outrageous form of bigotry than Trump has. They could -- I don’t know. I mean, Carly Fiorina is very rich. She could give people cars like Oprah.

MADDOW: Exactly. And you get a Pontiac. I do feel like you can buy media, right? You can start buying national ads and maybe some of them will do that. But media that you pay for has less of an impact than media that is earned, when people are talking about you on television because you’ve done something that they want to talk about. It seems to me that provoking some kind of outrage is the only way that somebody who’s right now below the cutoff could actually  get discussed enough to bump somebody out of the top ten and get onto the stage.

RICH: I think you’re exactly right. And the only way to provoke outrage is to say something outrageous, as Trump has mastered, or take some crazily out there policy position that riles up the troops or to commit a crime or get involved in a scandal, preferably a sex scandal, although perhaps not one involving Bill Cosby.

MADDOW: On the issue of what -- let’s say it wasn’t committing a crime or having a scandal, let’s say it was something where you’re taking a policy position that was so rattling to people, that was so unexpected that it got people talking about you. I used to feel like in the Republican Party that would mean taking a liberal policy stance.

I now am starting to feel like in part because of Bernie Sanders, I’m now starting to feel like there’s actually nothing that could be said from the liberal side, even by a Republican, that would rattle people enough to earn you media. Like, I almost feel like the compass is so much different than we expected that a Republican saying a liberal thing would sound moderate.

RICH: I think you’re right. And, look, George Pataki, who’s not a player but is technically a candidate, he’s pro-choice --

MADDOW: Yes.

RICH: -- which is a liberal thing for a Republican to do. No one seems to care or even have noticed.

MADDOW: Right.

RICH: And even if he’s screamed it on MSNBC, I don’t think it would make a difference. And what position can they take? What liberal position? They’re all sort of backing away now on same-sex marriage. They’re -- some of them are quasi-endorsing it except for three or four of the last holdouts. What -- they can’t top -- I don’t know what --

MADDOW: It has to be something so right wing that it gets -- they have to take a position that’s so right wing that it is shocking enough that FOX News talks about it and other Republicans feel like they need to either distance themselves from it or not. I mean, maybe that’s the effect.

RICH: And I think you’re -- getting on FOX News is the key here. They’re setting the rules. Roger Ailes does control the air on that network. If you say something shocking that’s appealing to him, you will get airtime from the daily grind on the FOX circuit, but what’s left I mean, they’ve taken such outrageous -- you know, self-deportation now seems like a moderate position in the Republican Party.

MADDOW: We’re about to -- figuring out what’s left is about to become a very acute short-term question. It’s got to happen within the next three and a half weeks in order to pay off.

RICH: They’ve used bomb Iran.

MADDOW: Right.

RICH: So they have to figure out -- maybe bomb Greece? Is that a position?
(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Frank Rich, writer at large for New York magazine -- Frank, it’s great to have you here. This is gong to be a fun month.

RICH: I agree.

 

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