Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A unified theory of gaffes

We've laid out the case up to this point:

  • Karl Rove is destroying the Democratic Party

  • Karl Rove is destroying the MSM from within

  • Karl Rove is creating a following among Hillary Clinton supporters and Hillary herself

  • Where does that leave us? Without evidence that Karl Rove has somehow penetrated and compromised the Obama campaign, that's where.

    But does the absence of evidence necessarily mean evidence of absence?

    Of course not.

    Because Karl Rove has already thought of that - and the evidence actually has been there for quite some time - he has a man on the inside of the Obama

    [Obama's chief political and media adviser David] Axelrod has become animated by a more basic challenge of political communication, the problem of breaking through, of sounding different and new. Axelrod says that the way to cut through all the noise is to see campaigns as an author might, to understand that you need not just ideas but also a credible and authentic character, a distinct politics rooted in personality. ("David breaks them down," Peter Giangreco, a Chicago direct-mail consultant who often works with Axelrod, told me. "Who is your mother? Who is your father? Why are you doing this?") This, Axelrod says, is what Karl Rove understood about George W. Bush. "One of the reasons Bush has succeeded in two elections," Axelrod says, "is that in his own rough-hewn way he has conveyed a sense of this is who I am, warts and all." For Obama, because of Senator Hillary Clinton's far-greater experience and establishment backing, this is a particularly essential project. "If we run a conventional campaign and look like a conventional candidacy, we lose," Axelrod says.

    That story is from April.


    It all makes sense - but only in hindsight. Karl Rove somehow convinced David Axelrod not only that biography is important - but that "warts and all" should also be conveyed.

    Hence all these gaffes in Obama's campaign-by-oral-biography.

    Oh, and just to make sure the warts don't go unnoticed, Obama has proven quite capable of gaffing his way through any number of topics.

    RIGHT ON CUE: Yes, this was inevitable. Dean Barnett is covering for Rove:

    I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the dreadful political tactics here. When it comes to biography, Obama ought to realize that he can’t compete with McCain. He should just stick with that Hope/Change mumbo jumbo – it’s worked so far. The Obama campaign should refuse to embrace biography as a topic with the same eagerness that it avoids discussing Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers.

    Not to belittle my own insights, but the foregoing is rather obvious. You don’t have to be a Karl Rove in the making to realize as much.

    Well, no, of course you don’t have to be the next Karl Rove to realize that a biography campaign is a terrible idea for Obama.

    But you do have to be Karl Rove to pull off making the campaign think it is a great idea.

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