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August 22, 2007

American Voters, Please Don't Throw Me In The Briar Patch

Is this an old story? Somehow I missed it before it showed up in the LA Times a few days ago:

In the run-up to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when it was not yet clear who Bush's opponent would be that November, Rove and his aides had begun to fear that their most dangerous foe would be then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina...

But instead of attacking Edwards, Rove's team opened fire at Kerry.

Their thinking went like this, [Rove lieutenant Matthew] Dowd explained [after the election]: Democrats, in a knee-jerk reaction to GOP attacks, would rally around Kerry, whom Rove considered a comparatively weak opponent, and make him the party's nominee. Thus Bush would be spared from confronting Edwards, the candidate Republican strategists actually feared most...

"Whomever we attacked was going to be emboldened in Democratic primary voters' minds...So we started attacking John Kerry a lot in the end of January because we were very worried about John Edwards," Dowd said. "And we knew that if we focused on John Kerry, Democratic primary voters would sort of coalesce" around Kerry.

"It wasn't like we could tag [eliminate] somebody. Whomever we attacked was going to be helped," he said.

I assume many people read that and immediately thought of this:

[T]he president says he was helped by bin Laden, who put out a videotaped diatribe against Bush the Friday before the 2004 election.

Bush said there were “enormous amounts of discussion” inside his campaign about the 15-minute tape, which he called “an interesting entry by our enemy” into the presidential race....

“I thought it was going to help,” he decided. “I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush.”

Posted at August 22, 2007 09:18 AM | TrackBack

I watched one of the Democratic debates back in 2003 with a couple of lefty friends (fellow Kucinich supporters). As we watched Kerry say absolutely nothing in the most awkward way possible, I said to my friends "I'll bet Dick and Karl are watching this and saying 'Kerry--he's the one we want to run against.'" And in 2005 I wrote on my blog "I have little doubt that John Kerry was Karl Rove's choice to be aWol's 'opponent'..." (

These are times when you just can't be too cynical.

Posted by: Bob at August 22, 2007 10:23 AM

I thought of Rove's parting attacks on Hillary Clinton... (aimed at helping Obama?)

Posted by: at August 22, 2007 12:09 PM

So much for the ability of the DNC to THINK.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 22, 2007 12:11 PM

ah. never mind. Following through the link, I see that that was the point of the latimes piece.

my bad.

Posted by: at August 22, 2007 12:12 PM

You know, the same sort of crap has convinced a lot of people that George McGovern was Nixon's "pick" in 1972.

I don't doubt that Rove led attacks against Kerry. But the full truth about Nixon's dirty tricks squads was that they attacked everyone.

There's actually a tape of a conversation between Nixon and Colson discussing whether or not to plant McGovern campaign material in Arthur Bremer's apartment after the Wallace assassination attempt. And that was before the primaries were over, before the convention, even before the California primary that really clinched the nomination for McGovern, if I remember correctly.

So, as we move into another campaign season, I'd take any revelations about strategic thinking by Karl Rove with a shotgun of rock salt. Just assume everyone's going to get attacked, no matter what.

Posted by: darrelplant at August 22, 2007 12:40 PM

Just to be clear, by "crap" I mean the spin the article puts on Rove as some sort of political wizard, not the post.

Posted by: darrelplant at August 22, 2007 12:49 PM

Nono, don't you see! Karl Rove is behind EVERYTHING! He's an evil political wizard! LOOK! THERE HE IS! BEHIND THAT PIXEL! RUN!!!

Posted by: AlanSmithee at August 23, 2007 02:05 PM

AlanSmithee: Is that all you got? A litle more EFFORT, please, sweetcakes.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 23, 2007 06:48 PM