The Mix

Is Frank Luntz switching sides?

Second question: should they want him?
There's bad blood between Frank Luntz, the Republican über-spinmeister widely credited for his communication skills, and John Boehner (R-OH), the newly-anointed House Majority Leader.

At a recent Republican retreat, Luntz was scheduled to make a presentation to legislators, but was bumped from the lineup and didn’t attend. He said it was just a matter of scheduling.

But according to the WaPo, Luntz was disinvited at the behest of Boehner. Their feud goes back to when Luntz picked what was then the right horse in the 1998 race for House GOP leadership:
According to several Republican party strategists, newly elected Majority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) made it clear to members that if Luntz was going to the retreat, he wouldn't be in attendance. Boehner's office declined to comment on the story.
Luntz was instrumental in the creation of the "Contract With America" -- the document widely credited with delivering Republicans the House majority in 1994. Boehner's relationship (or lack thereof) with the pollster goes back -- at least -- to late 1998, when Boehner was seeking to hold onto his job as House GOP Conference chairman. […]
Luntz said at the time that Boehner made a "big mistake" by criticizing Gingrich, and he heaped praise on Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.), who was challenging Boehner for the conference chairmanship. Watts beat Boehner -- throwing the Ohioan unceremoniously out of leadership.
Now Boehner is back on top. And there are rumors around DC that Luntz may be looking to jump over to the Dems, especially after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NE) invited Luntz to a retreat the Dems' are going to hold in April.

This is just DC cocktail party chatter at this point - Luntz is making a presentation to House Republicans tomorrow.

But if it were to pan out, Luntz -- who brought us "tax relief" and the rule that anytime you want to slash funding for a program you call it "reform" -- would give the Dems something they lack in their pool of strategists: a winner.

Over at MYDD, the story has created a very modest amount of hand-wringing. Luntz is … well, slimy. As a party-switching hired gun, could he be trusted?

I think that's off the mark. These guys are all shallow political operatives without excessive amounts of ideological purity or real loyalty. Given that Democrats consistently poll better than Republicans on most of the issues and then lose, I think a real messaging guy can only be a benefit, even if he is a hack who’s lost favor within the GOP leadership.
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.