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That Ten Commandments of "advice" from Republican consultant Frank Luntz to the Democrats for their 2008 presidential primary thread generated a lot of discussion on "electability" a few days ago. I remember how much conflict and turmoil the subject caused during the last Democratic presidential primary at the end of 2003 and in the beginning of 2004. It's easy to see that this debate is still simmering right below the surface and you know the conflict is going to resume and all hell's going to break loose over the subject again during the primary in 2008. When it reaches the point where Democrats start yelling at each other, "Your guy's not electable!" "No, your guy's not electable!", it might be good to understand what role the Republicans play in creating a lot of this.

It was Karl Rove after all who set the ball in motion in 2003 by stating he, "was looking forward to running against Howard Dean because, 'Dean's not electable'." Now think about it, why would Karl Rove "let us know" ahead of time that our party's front-runner is "not electable"? Wouldn't he want us to nominate the weakest candidate, i.e. the "non-electable" one and keep his mouth shut while he laughed? Of course he would. What Karl Rove did was use reverse psychology to thereby get the result from us Democratic voters he "really" wanted, continuing the Republican tradition of tampering with and influencing our Party's primaries over the last forty years. So let's examine Karl Rove's true thought's on the subject from Pages 430-432 of Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack.

By early February 2004, rove could see that Iraq was turning into a potential negative. The violence on the ground continued. The U.S. military had more than 100,000 troops there and would require that many or more for some time. American soldiers were being killed at too high a rate, and they haven't reached a political settlement. Turning the government over to the Iraqis looked shaky. The failure to find any weapons of mass destruction, and Bush's and Tenet's public acknowledgments that the intelligence might have been wrong, were potentially big setbacks.

Previously, Rove had claimed he was salivating at the prospect that the Democrats would nominate former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential race. But Dean had imploded and Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, had won 12 of the first 14 Democratic primary contests and it looked like he was headed for the nomination. Politics is a game of recovery, adaptability and optimism. So Rove had a new line.

"The good news for us is that Dean is not the nominee," Rove now argued to an associate in his second floor West Wing office. Dean's unconditional opposition to the Iraq War could have been potent in a face off with Bush. "One of Dean's strengths though was he could say, I'm not part of that crowd down there." But Kerry was very much a part of the Washington crowd and he had voted in favor of the resolution for war.  Rove got out his two-inch-thick loose-leaf binder titled "Bring It On". It consisted of research into Kerry's 19-year record in the Senate. Most relevant were pages 9-20 of the section on Iraq.

The record was that Kerry had been all over the map. Sounding like a method actor who believes his lines, Rove offered some readings from the Kerry record.

"Iraq has developed a chemical weapons capability," Rove quoted Kerry saying in October 1990, according to the Congressional Record. Saddam has been "working toward" development of WMD or "had all those abilities," Kerry had said in January 1991. (Of course, this turned out to be true as the U.N. weapons inspectors discovered after the 1991 Gulf War.) In 1998, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, Kerry said that Saddam was "pursuing a program to build weapons of mass destruction" and in October 2002, he said, "I am prepared to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and destroy his weapons of mass destruction." And, "The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real....He has continued to build those weapons."

Rove's eyebrows were jumping up and down as he read. "My personal favorite," he said, quoting Kerry on March 19, 2003, the day the war started: "I think Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction are a threat, and that's why I voted to hold him accountable and to make certain that we disarm him."

"Oh yeah!" Rove shouted. And that had been on National Public Radio! He had it on tape. So here is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying Saddam had the stuff. And the Bush campaign argument would be as follows: "You're looking at the same conclusion, and if you accuse him of misleading the American people, What were you doing? Are you saying, I was duped?"

Of course, when the aftermath of the war turned sour, Rove noted, Kerry started backing away, arguing that he had voted not for war but only to give the president the power to threaten war. More starkly, Kerry had said on Meet the Press in August 2003 that the congressional resolution "we passed did not empower the president to do regime change, we empowered him only with resect to the relevant resolutions of the United Nations." Well, Rove and the rest of the country knew the resolution clearly gave the president approval to use the military in Iraq.

Rove was gleeful. "It's on tape!" he said, "and we've done testing on it, and you put out there, literally you take the footage of him saying some of this stuff and then have him in the exchange with Chris Matthews saying I'm anti-war and people say, 'What a hypocrite!'".

Kerry would have, and did have, answers. His main response was that Bush did not press hard enough or long enough with the U.N., that he did not build a legitimate global coalition, that he did not plan for the aftermath, and was too eager to go to war when Saddam was isolated and weak.

But Rove believed they had Kerry pretty cold on voting to give the president a green light for war and then backing off when he didn't like the aftermath or saw a political opportunity.

Whatever the case, Rove sounded as if he believed they could inoculate the president on the Iraq War in the campaign with Kerry. It remained to be seen, but Rove was certainly going to try.

So, just like the old saw about bewaring of Greeks bearing gifts, beware of Republicans offering Democrats "advice".

Originally posted to William Domingo on Sun Apr 02, 2006 at 06:34 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Startegies will be certain to change after this (0+ / 0-)

    makes the rounds!

    April 2, 2006

    Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski
    U.S. Air Force, 1983-2003

    read the transcript:

    Watch the interview:

    Please spread this as far and wide as you can.

    Coming to your town soon! The Social Security Adminstartion Electric and Power Company. "Omen Tuffy" 1918-1992

    by generic on Sun Apr 02, 2006 at 06:33:40 PM PDT

  •  A good rule is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    metal prophet

    never take advice from an enemy. Luntz should be regarded with suspicion. At best he's like Dick Morris when he was with Bill Clinton. He's a slimy backstabber who works for whoever pays him (regardless of party) and has some very good ideas but also some very bad ones.

    If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

    by dole4pineapple on Sun Apr 02, 2006 at 06:36:05 PM PDT

    •  Dick Morris the slimy backstabber (0+ / 0-)

      At a yard sale yesterday I could have bought a Dick Morris book called Off with their Heads published in 2003, for a dollar. But after reading the cover calling Liberals, "Crooks, Liars, Thieves, and Traitors", and claiming that Left Wing Hollywood actors, labor unions, yada-yada, and yes, even the Clintons, betrayed America, I decided to pass. Yes, he is a slimy backstabber.

      All you have to do is to tell the people they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.

      by William Domingo on Sun Apr 02, 2006 at 08:00:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There was a lot more to Dean (0+ / 0-)

    that made his electability suspect. signing the civil union bill into law in Vermont was the least of it.

    Webpage; Current members: 82,782 (as of 1pm 3/28). Projected Date of 100,000th member registration: September 8, 2006

    by FleetAdmiralJ on Sun Apr 02, 2006 at 06:37:13 PM PDT

    •  That likely.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....would not have been relevant, since Bush was sort of squishy on the civil unions issue, anyway.

      Anyway, I think Dean's great appeal to independent and moderate voters was the fact that he could show a lot more clarity than Kerry could. People don't really put much stock in exact ideological positions, in any case, so it really comes down to personality. Which I think could have worked in Dean's favor, since he comes across as forceful and decisive. Democrats really are not well-served taking advice from Republicans.

    •  Only one thing is certain at this point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thom K in CA

      Kerry's lack of electability is no longer "suspect."

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