http://www.thedailybeast.com/articl...op-you-can-t-put-lipstick-on-an-elephant.html Memo to GOP: You Canât Put Lipstick on an Elephant Republicansâ trumpeted makeover plan has only been out a few days, but itâs already crumbling. Bob Shrum on how Paul Ryan and anti-gay zealots are shooting their party in the foot. The Republican Nation Committeeâs postmortem on 2012 is hardly a guarantee that the party will come back to electoral life in 2014, or even 2016. And to find out why, look no further than Paul Ryan. First, though, the report itself, grandly titled âThe Growth and Opportunity Project.â In some ways, it is an unsparing document, arraigning a party out of touch with Americans, especially the new America of younger and more diverse voters; slamming last yearâs presidential nominee in all but name; and, in effect, calling for a sweeping de-Romneyization. In other ways, itâs as obvious as it is correct, calling for a state-of-the-art social media and turnout operation to replace the Mitt model nicknamed Orca which on Election Day beached itself on the shores of untested and outdated technology. The report did call for several shifts on policy, outraging conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, the GOPâs waning poobah, who bloviated: âThe Republican Party lost because itâs not conservative.â How I wish that advice would be taken to heartâand into electoral oblivion. Instead, saner, more establishment heads have concluded that the party has to moderate, a word they dare not use on issues like gay rights and immigration reform. Easier recommended than realizedâand once done, almost certainly not enough. Gay rights, the report argued, is a âgatewayâ for âmany younger votersâ: they just wonât come to the GOP if the GOP doesnât bend here. Donât bet on that move. The religious right, with its potentially decisive power in midterm and presidential primaries, will resist any candidate who follows such thoroughly sensible advice. In any event, the advice is queasy and muddy: what exactly are reformed Republicans supposed to say about marriage equality? How about North Carolina Senator Richard Burrâs dodge? âItâs a statesâ rights issue,â he pleads, invoking the age-old rationalization for discrimination and repression. But even this modified, limited hang-out wonât redeem Republicans when their House members are swinging the opposite way in the Supreme Court, spending millions of dollars to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, asked if his views on same-sex marriage were changing, offered an ugly reply: âIâm not gay. So Iâm not going to marry one.â What if he had been questioned in 1967 about the state laws prohibiting interracial marriage about to be struck down by the Supreme Court? I suppose the Chambliss of that year, channeling Georgiaâs arch- segregationist governor Lester Maddox, would have replied: âIâm not black. So Iâm not marrying one.â There is something indivisible about bigotryâand something profoundly revealing in a comment like this. The GOP may want a cosmetic gloss on its hostility toward gays, but itâs more of a gossamer fig leaf over a reflex instinct for inequality and a resolve to hold on to the religious right at all costs. And that kind of masquerade wonât convince the 70 percent of millennials born since 1980 who favor marriage equality. All the social media in the world, no matter how sophisticated, wonât matter if the message is a token and transparently inauthentic tolerance. Or take immigration reform, where Republicans are hinting that they might actually take their medicine and swallow a path to citizenship as part of a comprehensive bill. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who seemsâand I mean seemsâto favor this, has been busy safeguarding his presidential ambitions by qualifying his support for reform: there canât be a âspecialâ route to citizenship; it has to âhappen at some time in the future, when some time has elapsed.â Politico cites a Rubio adviser confiding that a conservative backlash could lead Rubio to âback off his supportâ for even a crabbed and grudging measureâand that his fellow White House aspirant in the Senate, Kentuckyâs Rand Paul, has âdanced around his specific position.â Related Stories Why Paul Ryanâs Star Dimmed The backlash is fierceâfrom the Heritage Foundationâs Jim DeMint to Texasâs McCarthyite Senator Ted Cruz. Right wing screedmeister Ann Coulter told the Conservative Political Action Conference: âI am now a single-issue voter against amnesty.â The conference chair. And the problem here goes beyond the tricky navigation of nativist-dominated presidential primaries. The internal GOP debate, the hesitations and the anti-Hispanic rhetoric, will alienate Hispanics even if a reasonable bill passesâand they will blame Republicans if it doesnât. But the problem goes even deeper. Not only is the stereotype of Hispanics as socially conservative wrongâthe polls show that they are more in favor of abortion rights (74 percent) and same-sex marriage (66 percent) than the population at large. They also arenât a GOP fit on the economy and the role of government. In a 2012 exit survey, they overwhelmingly favored Obamacare and raising taxes on the wealthy. So Ann Coulter is right about one thing: the more Hispanic immigrants who become citizens, the more votes Democrats will gain. Immigration reform is right on the merits, but a path to citizenship is anything but a path to a Republican comeback. This is where Paul Ryan comes in. And the toxicity of his presence and his positions isnât confined to Hispanics. The partyâs disappointing 2012 vice presidential nominee, squashed by Joe Biden in their debate, has just forced Republicans in the House to vote for the budget plan Americans repudiated last November. It would voucherize Medicare, repeal Obamacare, shred Medicaid, starve education, medical research, the list goes on to give, you guessed it, tax breaks to the wealthy. It would smash federal spendingâoutside of Social Security and interest on the national debtâdown to the lowest level since 1948. House Republican Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, who feels he has to drink the tea of the Ryan budget, nonetheless complains that: âThere are a lot of things are not happy withâ¦ It cuts too much spending.â And Rogers is not alone. There are a lot of things voters will be happy with in the Ryan budgetâand a GOP thatâs in a hole but canât stop digging. The country has already caught on to the partyâs calculation that it can trick people by renovating its style while recycling the same old ideas. Ryan himself, according to the latest Rasmussen pollâhardly a poll skewed against Republicansâhas seen his approval rating plummet to 35 percent, down from 50 percent last August. And a new CNN survey reports that two thirds of Americans believe the GOP âfavors the richâ and nearly half think itâs âtoo extreme.â The surveyâs director says: âUnfavorable views [of the party] extend into nearly â¦ every major demographic.â Not long before the Ryan budget sailed through the House on a nearly lockstep Republican voteâonly 10 Republican stepped back from the political abyssâone freshman member comforted himself with the notion that âitâs pretend â¦ We know itâs dead on arrival in the Senate.â But it will be very much alive as a defining campaign issue in 2014, and unless the GOP turns from its rigid ideology, in 2016 too. And so far, whatâs plainly and decidedly dead, for all the Beltway blather about it, is the Republican makeover. So beyond the mechanics, the outreach, the shorter presidential primary seasonâall the recommendations of the RNC reportâhere is what the party has on offer. A âgentlerâ tone on gay rights accompanied by a hard line in the Supreme Courtâand almost certainly in the next rounds of primaries for the Senate and for president. A confused, shilly-shallying, often slur-riven approach on immigration reform that surely wonât convert Hispanics and other ethnic minorities. And one place where the RNC report is truly shy: an enmity toward a womanâs right to choose and womenâs health services that will perpetuate and widen the gender gap. The coup de grace comes with the Ryan budgetâs rank economic injustice and massive cuts for the middle class, seniors, and the poor. The RNC may be trying hard, but Paul Ryan has starkly shown that you canât put lipstick on an elephant. Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long. Shrum, a senior fellow at NYU, was a longtime political consultant who worked on numerous Democratic campaigns, including Kerry-Edwards in 2004 and Al Goreâs 2000 race for the White House.