As Wayne Slater (Bush's Brain) explains it:
"In every campaign after that, what you see with Rove is the same kind of thing: You see some series of events that attack an opponent, really not simply on the merits of issues, but in some dirty trick way. This was an opening. This was the first salvo. This was the beginning of the Rove approach. "The mark of Rove" is what some people call it. When Rove gets involved in a campaign, the opponent is going to get smeared in a bad way, and most likely, Rove's candidate will win."
"If there's any single thing that defines a Rove campaign, it is smashmouth politics. He goes after you hammer and tong. Attack, attack, attack is the model that he used. You saw that as early as 1985 when he put together a memo for a Republican candidate for governor in Texas, and in that he quoted Napoleon, saying, in essence, that the whole art of war is a "well-circumspect defense, but also a rapid and audacious attack." That's the model that he's always used.
Now many consultants use attack politics. It's become something that a lot of people do, in part because they model these campaigns after Rove. But he's really carried it to a new level."
Besides attack, attack, and attack, it is important to demonstrate that the opposing candidate is somehow 'out of the mainstream', not like the voter you are appealing to.Â
"At one point the memo explains that attacks against the opponent are more important than positive messages about yourself. Now, clearly a campaign is a balance of both, but Karl was very, very aggressive in understanding that in order to build this party, it had to be a combination of attacks on an opponent in a very strategic way, but also an appeal that your candidate is "one of them," something the Republican Party had not been particularly successful in doing. In putting together this memo, Rove was successful in encapsulating the model, not simply for the candidate he was writing for, but a model for an approach that every subsequent Republican who he represented could appeal to voters on, a larger audience, a bigger group, a larger machine, and the success of the Republican Party."
And Karl Rove has taught the attack politics method of going against the STRENGTHS and not the weaknesses of the opposing candidate.Â Purely brilliant.
"Very early on, Karl Rove did something that many other political operatives don't do, and it's really an element of why he's a unique figure in American political life: He understands that while other people look for the weakness in an opponent and exploit that, Rove has long looked at the strength of an opponent. In the case of Ann Richards running for governor, it was that she was tolerant and appealed to many constituents, so you attack her as an advocate for the homosexuals' agenda. In the case of John McCain, it was that he was a POW in Vietnam, and so you raise questions about his service in Vietnam through surrogate groups.
In 2004, the number one thing that John Kerry offered was his heroic service in Vietnam, and so what Rove did was attack the strength of Kerry, not his weakness. What you had to do was confront Kerry's strength in Vietnam by raising doubts about whether or not he was a hero and whether or not his service was really all that noble. And you do that in part with a surrogate group, raising questions about whether his medals were truly warranted, and beyond that, pressing the case of John Kerry, who came back from the war as an opponent of the war."
John McCain has embraced the Rovian strategy that slimed him in South Carolina.Â Whether from the McCain camp directly or from third party groups that seemingly operate independently, the message is coordinated and clear.
Obama isn't like us.Â
The latest slam on Obama is that he is too fit.
Again, sort of placed in a "humorous" spin (are attacks ever really funny?), the Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled exactly that:Â "Too Fit to Be President?"
So make a joke about Senator Obama's good health.Â Why would anyone want to vote for a candidate who is healthy anyhow?Â How could he possibly relate to our poor health?Â Â
And besides, isn't good healthy something that shows you he is a celebrity?Â Aren't all of the celebrities like Britney Spears healthy?
But let's disregard the facts.Â It is the spin that matters.Â Maybe Barack Obama's good health and eating habits can be used AGAINST him!Â What a coup!Â Of course the American people won't see through THAT!
As Fox News reported:
"Others in the medical field told the newspaper that they have eyeballed the 6? 1.5? tall senator, and he looks to weigh about 10 pounds less than the average 190 pounds American man of his height weigh.
McCainÂ’s campaign has already used the senatorÂ’s healthy living against him, linking his Â“celebrityÂ” to his diet.
Â“Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand Â‘MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew Â— Black Forest Berry Honest TeaÂ’ and worry about the price of arugula,Â” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis wrote in a memo to interested parties earlier this week."
Hilarious.Â But these guys are sickos trying to manipulate the public in very irrational ways.Â Â
But all of this negative campaigning is working.Â That's why Karl Rove is so brilliant!
And the McCain campaign is closing the gap!Â Who knows what other brilliant strategies we shall hear.Â Perhaps that Obama is too young, too intelligent, and too capable.
Pass the Arugula please.