Saturday, March 08, 2008

Karl Rove Rides Again!

"[T]he horns are retractable and so is the tail...I'm not a human being...I may appear to be flesh and blood, but I am a myth. The mark of Rove is: If you can't explain it, Rove is responsible."---Karl Rove (audio)

"In three recent polls...almost twice as many Democrats support Mr. McCain as Republicans support Mr. Obama. Three times as many Democrats support Mr. McCain as Republicans back Mrs. Clinton."---Karl Rove

The Wall Street Journal (3-6-08) has published an opinion piece about America's 2008 presidential contest by the former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

According to Mr. Rove:

Neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton can win with delegates elected in primaries and caucuses. In a real irony, the Democratic Party will settle its nominee battle with the aristocratic device of superdelegates -- party apparatchiks, interest group leaders and elected officials, many of whom gained their post years ago. What happens if a bloc of superdelegates remains uncommitted until the convention? And what will happen to Florida and Michigan, which presently have no delegates? The last convention with only 48 states represented was 1956.

The big development to watch is not the rise of the "Obamicans" -- Republicans who are backing the charismatic Illinois senator. The interesting electoral phenomenon is the emergence of the "McCainicrats" -- Democrats backing Mr. McCain. It's not just Sen. Joe Lieberman. In three recent polls, (Fox, LA Times/Bloomberg and Gallup), almost twice as many Democrats support Mr. McCain as Republicans support Mr. Obama. Three times as many Democrats support Mr. McCain as Republicans back Mrs. Clinton.

A long Democratic battle doesn't automatically help the Republicans. In fact, it hurts the Republicans in certain ways. Mr. McCain becomes less interesting to the media. Stories about him move off page one and grow smaller. TV coverage becomes spotty and short. There are not yet big and deep and unbridgeable differences between the two Democrats and there is plenty of time to heal most wounds (except, perhaps among the young if Mrs. Clinton were to win). Continuing to build a profile and lay the predicate for the short fall campaign against either Democrat becomes the challenge for Mr. McCain while the Democrats battle it out.

So what must Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton do, especially in the seven weeks before Pennsylvania?

Both need to focus on Mr. Obama's biggest weaknesses. One is the Illinois senator's claim to be the new "post-partisan" leader to bring Republicans and Democrats together. Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton have earned reputations for doing that, though Mrs. Clinton rarely mentions it. Mr. Obama has no real record of voting and working across party lines on high profile issues like judges, immigration, intelligence reform, troop funding and energy.

...Mr. McCain, on the other hand, will have to work harder to get attention and prepare for the general election. And without a specific opponent, his principal focus should be on himself.

He needs to share a personal narrative about his life, values and inner beliefs in a way that is often uncomfortable to this private man. He must also follow through on his pledge of Tuesday night to carry his fight to every community and corner of America. It was a smart thing to say; it is a critical thing to do. Voters want candidates to ask for the vote of every American, not just the people who look and sound like the candidate.

Mr. McCain needs to define his views on Iraq and the global war on terror in ways that cause Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton to attack him. In politics as in war, the properly prepared counterpunch is often more powerful than the assault itself. But if he spends too much time too early directly attacking Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain could use up some of his most powerful material too early and run out of things to say just about the time voters start the process of comparing the Democratic nominee and Mr. McCain [Full text].

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