Congressional Republicans, like middle-school English teachers, are mad that people don’t think they’re cool. In quiet moments in institutional restrooms, they look into mirrors for a bit longer than normal, hands under the faucet, leaning in. “What is it?” they wonder, eyes scanning their faces. That’s when someone else walks in. “Hey.” “Oh, hey,” the Republicans reply, eyes dropping, hands washing each other vigorously.

Like many of those unsteady educators, the GOP has decided to do something about its popularity problem. Middle-school teachers buy sports cars and new jeans. Republicans try to develop new messaging. Politico outlines the GOP’s three new rules. Let us assess them.

Rule one: Stop talking like the world is going to end. Budgetary politics is important to the GOP, but voters are going to stop voting for a party that talks about gloom and doom around the clock.

“I think that we need to make being fiscally conservative cool,” said Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the Administration Committee and a close ally of Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Yes. Stop talking like the world is going to end! You know how the Republicans are always like, “Oh, man, this climate change thing could really be apocalyptic and we’re not doing anything about it,” etc., etc. Stop doing that, Republicans!

And Rep. Miller has a great idea. A great idea. Make fiscal conservatism cool! Why didn’t you guys think of that before? I mean, I know that in 2005, someone presented Cheney with “Operation: Shades” which would have put that plan into motion and he didn’t jump on it, but why didn’t you do it once he and the other guy got out of office? Honestly, if you started now, you could have fiscal conservatism lookin’ cool by April. It’s like Hawaiian shirt day at Initech. Mix it up, and you’ll get the kids’ respect.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The new-look GOP

elsieThe new-look GOP.

Rule two: Stop repealing regulations no one has heard of. It’s nice to be the party of cutting red tape, Republicans say, but no one has heard of boiler MACT or utility MACT. So spending time throwing these bills on the floor is absolutely useless. Package regulation cutting together, and explain that people’s energy will be cheaper, Republicans say.

“Does anyone have any idea how this fits their family? No. No one has any idea what that is,” said Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of leadership who is leading the agenda-crafting effort. “Just an individual bill that deals with one regulation that people can’t connect to? No more of that.”

No one knows what that is. How are people supposed to hate “boiler MACT” if they don’t know what it is, guys? You’re not going to look “cool” eradicating some Johnny Lame-o like “utility MACT.” The key is to lie about about what you want to do! Make it sound horrible and then people will be super-grateful you stabbed it to death in subcommittee.

Like boiler MACT. So this is a totally stupid proposal from the EPA to establish new limits on pollution from industrial boilers. It is hella dumb because it would only prevent 8,100 deaths a year while making super-cool big factories have to upgrade their steam-production systems.

Let’s compare these two statements. Which one is “cool”? Which one is “square”?

  • We are pushing to stop the EPA’s boiler MACT rule because our allies in big business don’t want to incur one-time costs simply for the greater health of the public; rather, they’d prefer to continue to externalize the costs of that pollution into children’s lungs.
  • Yo, the big government has this new law that will make all your stuff way more expensive and does no one any good except China. That is wack; visit for the D/L. (That means “details.”)

The second one is the “cool” one. That, people can “connect to.”

Rule three: Sand down the party’s rough edges. Pass education bills and immigration legislation. Stop screaming about red ink and spending too much. This one is going to be tough, since House Republicans haven’t been able to pass a bill called the Violence Against Woman Act for more than a year.

By “sand down the party’s rough edges,” Politico really means “stop being racist and sexist.” Racism and sexism are not cool.

These are all super-good ideas, even if they’re just the summaries Politico wrote based on what it heard about the GOP gathering. Imagine how great the things Republicans actually said must have been!

I would like to offer a note of caution, though, which may dampen optimism about this plan just a little bit.

Even a middle-school teacher dressed in the coolest clothes, listening to the hottest music, playing the latest video games is not going to be seen as very cool and will not be very popular if he spends his entire class period screaming at his students, trying to show each of them how stupid they are, marginalizing nearly half of them, and suggesting that a few be sent to detention indefinitely.

Oh, sorry. Fixing those sorts of things fell under “sand down the rough edges.” You’re all covered then.