You have to hand it to Karl Rove. When it comes to
understanding how to use and focus the power of the Antagonist there is really
no one better.
I have never been a fan of Rove’s dirty tricks. There is
nothing particularly clever about gay bashing (ok, gay-marriage bashing) as a
campaign tactic. But getting the Dems to ignore John Edwards, their most
broadly popular candidate (as viewed by favorability ratings) and turn their
rhetorical guns on each other rather than any of the myriad Repub policy
failures – now that does show the touch of a Maestro.
And he did it with just two articles.
First, back in December he wrote
an oped piece in the Financial Times laying out what Obama should do to beat Hillary. When
Hillary began saying that Obama’s attacks were “right out of the Republican play
book” this is what she was referring to. To be fair to Obama he didn’t really
need Rove’s advice. But by offering it Rove got under Clinton’s skin, making
her responses increasingly brittle and personal.
Then after Hillary held the line
in New Hampshire Rove again went into print- this time in the Wall Street
Journal. Talking of Obama’s performance at the New Hampshire Debate Rove said, “His
trash talking was an unattractive carryover from his days playing
pickup basketball at Harvard, and capped a mediocre night.” That is
pretty obvious racial stereotyping, as was Rove use of the code word "lazy" in referring to Obama. The national press picked up on the racial overtones.
Once Karl brought
race out of the closet, it was fair game.Soon every campaign comment was being
scanned for racial or gender charge. That left John E. – a white male – with no
dog in the fight. Lost in the fray was John’s message.
With the nation slipping towards
recession (the Fed didn’t just viciously slash interest rates because
everything is really peachy) it might be a good time to look at what that
message was. As John Edwards himself eloquently said in his withdrawal speech
down in the still devastated 9th Ward of New Orleans:
know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from
the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers
sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they
couldn’t afford to pay for heat."
It is a question many Dems may be
asking come November. And the person they have thank for it is the maestro