Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clintons Channel Carl Rove

In his book “The Way To Win” Carl Rove says that Bill Clinton came up to him at the dedication of his Presidential Library and told Rove, "Hey, you did a marvelous job, it was just marvelous what you did," So in the kindred and warped world of the Southern personal anything goes in order to win dog-whistle attack politics Clinton was in effect acknowledging to his fellow good old boy his admiration of his political genius. At the same time in public Clinton regularly attacked Rove for using this form of politics because of it's divisiveness and personal destruction of your political opponents.

Liars, hypocrites!

In light of the shenanigans of the Clinton Campaign in the last few days I think the above account says worlds about Hillary and Bill today. I think that there is no doubt that they have adopted this style of gutter campaigning and character assassination that is Rove’s trademark, used so effectively to destroy his political opponents.

I acknowledge that politics is a full contact sport. I also realize that there are many in the Democratic Party who actually want the party to co-opt Rove's Republican election tactics if it means wining elections.

But is such a move ethical or would we just be selling our souls to the devil?

Barak Obama has identified as a positive campaign issue the appeal of a candidate who offers a change from this type of divisive political discourse. He has based much of his campaign on the theme of change and breaking from the past. He’s offering a new kind of politics and an end to the era of Bush Clinton Bush Clinton political sickness. He is certainly not without fault, but he offers something promising, bright and above all new.

dog-whistle politics n. a concealed, coded, or unstated idea, usually divisive or politically dangerous, nevertheless understood by the intended voters. Also dog whistle issue.

The most notable Rove tactic was one of planting unsubstantiated accusations, categorizations or smears of the opponent in the press or in the public sector. Often surrogates or political operatives were used, but some were simply started by rumor, or by using some other anonymous source. One of the most well known being the smearing of the Democratic Governor of Texas Ann Richards who opposed George W Bush for re-election. Richards a progressive, who was unmarried, had appointed several gays and lesbians to different state positions. Rove started rumors that Richards was a lesbian. The accusations put her on the defensive much of the time and unfortunately stuck and led to Richards losing enough bigoted independent votes to swing the election to Bush and Rove was crowned the boy genius.

"Even Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, seems to agree, effectively vowing to run her operation much as Rove did his two successful national campaigns. "She expresses admiration for the way George W. Bush's campaign team controlled its message, and, given her druthers, would run this race no differently," Michelle Cottle writes in New York magazine. "'We are a very disciplined group, and I am very proud of it,' she says with a defiant edge."

The candidate caught in these Rove style attacks ends up defending themselves or denying the rumors or smears instead of talking about the real issues of the campaign. The rumors are given legitimacy when repeated in the press or otherwise widely reported. Meanwhile the campaign that is behind the smear response is that they know nothing about the source of the rumors or that they find them "unfortunate". They emphasize that they are simply trying to run a issues oriented campaign.

Does this all sound familiar?

In the Rove method of good old boy power politics winning is everything. It transcends party and even the common good. This needs to stop now. This is why this country so badly needs a new political narrative that shouldn’t include anyone named Bush, Clinton or Rove.

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