Does anybody have a scorecard?
No, really, 1 AM is *precisely* the right time to contemplate these sorts of gambits.
By Moe Lane Posted in 2008 — Comments (8) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Even if you blame him for the 2006 debacle (personally, I think that there's plenty of blame to go around, and I'm not excluding myself), you have to admit: Karl Rove is still good at one thing. To wit, causing journalists to tie themselves up in analytical knots. Prime example here:
Now, I'm not going to be clinical and call this paranoia, but like Dan Collins I see quite a bit that's The Princess Bride about the whole thing, and I suspect that after you read it, so will you.
But read on.
It's so hard to know where to excerpt. Here's some pared-down bits, but read the whole article:
WASHINGTON — Day after day last week, outgoing White House political strategist Karl Rove delivered slashing attacks on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton...
Why did Rove, who often stays in the background, step forward to deliver such public attacks -- especially when the Democrats haven't begun to choose their presidential candidate for 2008 and when the general election is more than a year away?
The answer might seem obvious: Rove saw Clinton as a formidable opponent and wanted to get his licks in early.
For high-level campaign professionals like Rove, however, that kind of thinking may be too simple.
In this case, Rove's weeklong broadside against Clinton -- which he is expected to repeat in multiple appearances on television talk shows today -- looks suspiciously like an exercise in reverse psychology that his team employed three years ago when it was preparing for President Bush's reelection bid.
I'll summarize the next bit: the claim is that Karl Rove has sufficient telepathic control over Democratic Party primary voters that he can command their votes
WITH THE POWER OF HIS MIND! through a judicious set of negative campaigning. Apparently, we - "we" being the GOP - decided that Senator John Edwards was the real threat in 2004, so we went after Senator John Kerry instead, thus stampeding Democratic voters into voting for the latter.
No, really. This was apparently all happening in the universe where John Edwards won primaries in more places than South Carolina and North Carolina, the nomination hadn't been sewn up by March of 2004, and Howard Dean never got a drop of good/bad ink the whole way through. Heck, aside from everything else I'm frankly amazed at the level of casual contempt that this theory shows towards the Democratic party's rank-and-file. I'm not entirely certain that I could get away with it here, and I'm on the Other Side.
Now, if you want to believe Matthew Dowd - the guy that claimed that the above was the strategy - over me, feel free; shoot, I'm this guy on the Internet, and he's somebody who was talking to Karl Rove all the time. I still think that it's all very Byzantine, and we don't actually do Byzantine all that well in this country, but opinions differ. What is still hysterical about all of this is that even with the man gone Karl Rove can engender these kinds of articles. The author's chasing his own tail on this one: maybe this is a plot to push Clinton as the nominee. Maybe this is a plot against Obama. Or Edwards. Maybe Rove is wrong to push Clinton onto an unsuspecting Democratic primary electorate. But the consensus is that Rove is still out there, plotting his next move against the forces of Good! Oh, yes, tricky and sly, that one. Going after the best-organized front runner in the polls. Just the obvious ploy that he knew that they knew that he knew that all y'all knew that they knew that I knew that you knew that they knew that he'd do!
And to cap it all off, in perfect lack of perceived irony:
Conservative activist Grover Norquist said that he doubted conservatives were trying to meddle in the Democratic primaries and that nobody on his side thinks that party's base would pay attention to Rove.
But he then adopted another device favored by political professionals, taking a position that could be read as straightforward or as carefully calculated.
"I want to run against Hillary Clinton because I think she's the easiest person to beat," Norquist said. "But she's by no means a pushover."
The only "device" here that I can see is that Mr. Norquist probably made that statement secure in the happy knowledge that everything would be done to it except accept it at face value.