Yesterday morning, the Karl Rove-backed Super PAC American Crossroads released an ad attacking President Obama as the "celebrity president." [..]You might recall this as being roughly the same play as used to mainstream the lobbyist-backed "Tea Party" movement. Fox News acts impressed that (insert otherwise mostly insignificant Republican-backed thing here) is happening; Fox News actively starts promoting the thing using their top celebrities and programs; Fox News gushes at how the thing is really taking off in the media, because golly, look how much we here at Fox are covering it!
Fox News, which employs Rove as a political analyst, has been aggressively promoting the ad online and on the air, often without noting Rove's connection to either American Crossroads or Fox News. Rove's "celebrity" ad has been discussed on seven separate Fox News programs. Fox Newsers have called the ad a "bombshell," "fabulous" and "the most effective anti-Obama ad I have seen." Rove himself appeared on Fox's top-rated program, The O'Reilly Factor, to discuss the ad and promote its message.
Having the insert-Republican-backed-thing-here be a product of one of their own paid employees, though—that's a step above. Karl Rove is paid by Fox to do "analysis"; in his non-Fox job, Rove's Super PAC cuts an explicitly partisan ad; Fox News gives free air time to the spot ad nauseum, gushing over how terribly brilliant the thing supposedly is; Karl Rove is paid to come on Fox News programs and talk about how brilliant his ad is. Journalism!
As far as the Super PAC strategy itself goes, it appears the Republican plan is going to be to argue that Barack Obama is just too darn likable and popular. Real presidents, trustworthy presidents, smell like failure and old shoes; Obama speaks too well, and is liked by too many, and therefore it's all a but suspicious and untrustworthy.
It should be especially noted in Bush adviser Karl Rove's case that Barack Obama's primary if not only duty as president has been to be "The Guy Who Had To Clean Up Karl Rove's Mess." Bin Laden is gone, an accomplishment that Bush's Brain would have likely given up 20 teeth, an arm and a kidney to have gotten during Bush's tenure. The economy still sucks mightily, but has at least recovered from the flaming train wreck that it was when Bush's last remaining staff were packing up their belongings and fleeing the White House with a sense of insufficient shame (Rove, for his part, bailed a year early, presumably to pick up a little pocket change in the upcoming elections).
All of this, however, makes The Smoked Ham of Wisdom the closest thing Fox News has to a genius, and by God if they have to pump up this rather silly, pointless little ad into a work of art, they're going to do it. The only remaining boundary to cross is for Fox News to set up their own Super PAC directly, thus themselves creating the ads that they then proceed to herald as True Republican Brilliance; that, however, would be a step down for them. Even Super PACs have more legal and ethical restrictions than Fox News does; as long as they keep calling themselves a "news" channel, they can largely electioneer without consequence.