The term oxymoron means a self-contradiction. Like “Hollywood class,” “liberal tolerance” is an oxymoron. Another example is “Republican strategist” — two words that cannot logically co-exist. Since 2009, GOP pollsters, advisers and lobbyists lost three special elections, and they lost elsewhere, too.

The term oxymoron means a self-contradiction. Like “Hollywood class,” “liberal tolerance” is an oxymoron. Another example is “Republican strategist” — two words that cannot logically co-exist.

Three Dog Night sang, “One is the loneliest number.” Today’s GOP number is 26 — to be exact, New York’s 26th Congressional District’s recent special election.

Ronald Reagan said famously, “There you go again.” Republican strategists went where they usually go: blowing the unblowable.

Since 2009, GOP pollsters, advisers and lobbyists lost three special elections, and they lost elsewhere, too. A year ago, with health care dying, Barack Obama invited Republican leaders to a forum where, as props, they cluelessly revived the patient.

Last December, not waiting for 2011’s GOP new House majority to extend Bush tax cuts, they let Obama do it, giving him the credit. Republicans love coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’: We came, we saw, we failed.

The 26th’s failure may be the worst, giving Democrats a 2012 Election map: demonize the GOP on Medicare. Winston Churchill called “courage the most important attribute.” Obama is MIA, as the unsustainable federal program for the aged cries SOS.

By contrast, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s bill would trade the fee-for-service program to a system of private health insurance. His proposal is debatable. Medicare’s CPR need is not.

At one time or another, our Cynic-In-Chief has pledged “an adult conversation” — hilarious, since Democrats treat voters like children. Ryan addressed policy. Replying with derision politics, Obama’s strategy — stop the GOP from driving Grannie off a cliff! — was as mature as a first-grade brawl.

It is true that Ryan’s plan is too complex for a 30-second ad. It is also true that Democrats don’t have a plan, seemingly content to let Medicare die.

Many Republican strategists fancy themselves as smart. Stunningly not street-smart, they deemed the average voter too rational to fall for such a diatribe. After all, previously represented by Jack Kemp, Tom Reynolds and Chris Lee — pioneer, insider and pervert, respectively — the 26th had been gerrymandered to ensure GOP success. MediScare couldn’t work there — except that it did. Indeed, unanswered, it can work anywhere.

New York’s 26th district is mostly white, right-of-center and largely affluent. GOP candidate Jane Corwin’s election was thought to be so in the bag that Democrats urged Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul not to run. She did. So did thrice-Democratic-turned tea party candidate Jack Davis. Once sounding like Nancy Pelosi, stumping, the born-again populist seemed as mainstream as Nancy Drew.

At first, Davis took Republicans from Corwin, who ignored his bile, like any good GOP strategist. Result: Davis became a halfway house with GOPers going to him, then to Hochul. Their shift happened over time, not overnight, as Republican elites cowered, shocked by Davis and MediScare. “Pray tell,” as Churchill liked to say, why were they surprised?

Reagan said Communists “reserve unto themselves the right to lie, to cheat, to steal,” anything to wield power. How different is today’s left? How could the GOP not grasp that “progressives” treat truth as disposable as a diaper?

“Fear is what moves people, not love,” a politician told me. “It’s not what they teach in Sunday school, but it’s true.”

Liberals used fear to demagogue. Where was the GOP’s use of fear of the elderly’s system going belly-up? It’s Medicare, not Grannie, that Democrats want to kill! Instead, like adding strychnine to arsenic, Republicans trooped from D.C. to western New York to save their damsel in distress.

It didn’t work: Hochul got 48 percent, Corwin 43 percent and Davis 8 percent. What a hash. Pity the poor tea partier who voted GOP last year only to find his wagon hitched to a falling star. To define Republican strategist, subtract the oxy from oxymoron.

Curt Smith is the author of 13 books; a former speechwriter to President George H.W. Bush and host of WXXI Radio’s “Perspectives.” His views do not necessarily reflect the station’s. Mr. Smith writes for GateHouse Media. E-mail him at curtsmith@netacc.net.