Apr 13, 2005

The King of Smarm

Admittedly, Karl Rove is good at what he does: Running successful political campaigns. But the manner in which he achieves this is through personal attacks and dirty tricks. PBS’s Frontline program last night, “The Architect: Karl Rove” delved into his background and revealed how it had been his lifelong goal to reinvigorate the Conservative vote. He dedidated 30 years of his career to make this happen, and – as we’ve seen in Dubya’s administration - Rove’s wet dream has become our worst nightmare.

The program distilled Rove’s “understanding of the mechanics of political campaigning” – his modus operandi, if you will – to the following elements:

  • Keep your messages simple – and keep them to around four or so; the better to hammer into your constituent’s heads with, my pretty
  • Attack your opponent’s strengths; don’t exploit his weaknesses – he's expecting that
  • Connect “the gay issue” to your opponent at any instant you feel like you’re backed into a corner; the Conservative Right will spring to life like Hitler after getting a shot of Vitamultin
  • Become astute at analyzing poll data, marketing surveys, demographic information (Conservatives are more likely to subscribe to “Field & Stream”), etc.
  • Concentrate on small, incremental victories that eventually contribute to the bigger goal

If anything good came out of this program – I know it riled me up enough last night to prevent me from falling asleep for another two hours – it’s that this program gives us “how-to” guide as to how we could fight back and bring some balance into our legislature. Sure, we may decide to take the high road, but basically we now have the playbook. It’s time to sack the quarterback.

Thanks to BYO for reminding me to tune in.


OldHorsetailSnake said...

I once thought of Rove as Edgar Bergen, and W was Charlie McCarthy. But I was wrong. W is Mortimore Snerd.

Thomas Nephew said...

Wish I'd seen that. Here's another Karl Rove resource: Karl Rove in a Corner, by Joshua Green, in the Atlantic, last November just before the election. Rove has run some absolute slimeball campaigns, indeed, he liked doing that.

Green concludes: If this year stays true to past form, the campaign will get nastier in the closing weeks, and without anyone's quite registering it, Rove will be right back in his element. He seems to understand—indeed, to count on—the media's unwillingness or inability, whether from squeamishness, laziness, or professional caution, ever to give a full estimate of him or his work. It is ultimately not just Rove's skill but his character that allows him to perform on an entirely different plane. Along with remarkable strategic skills, he has both an understanding of the media's unstated self-limitations and a willingness to fight in territory where conscience forbids most others.

Rove isn't bracing for a close race. He's depending on it.

jurassicpork said...

Mags, have you ever seen BUSH'S BRAIN, the documentary based on the book? I saw it on demand a few months ago and it's also a real eye-opener. Apparently, while the book was still in manuscript, Rove had gotten ahold of a copy and in one night fired off an angry 14 page email to the co-authors defending "attacks" made about him. What's chilling is that Rove was able to get a copy of a book while it was still in ms, meaning he has feelers and paid spies all over the publishing biz and God knows where else.