Scene: Karl Rove, Charles and David Koch, and Alan Nash sit beside a pool in the Bahamas, 100 yards from the ocean. The Kochs are in $1800 suits, under a big umbrella. Rove is in shorts and a yellow and white striped polo; a model in a bikini is putting suntan lotion on his white legs, the only part of his body not under an umbrella. Nash is wearing slacks and dress shoes with his powder blue polo, back to the sun. He is called CP for counterpoint. His paid roll is to offer opposing views, facts, and common-man reactions since Rove and the Kochs don't really identify with those parameters. The CP always changes at the whim of the other three; Nash has been able to hang onto this duty for five months. He can attribute his long tenure to knowing when to speak and when not to, and how far to support his points.
Karl Rove: You know how we've been looking for somebody to get up in arms about?
Charles Koch: You mean literally, right?
David Koch: Of course he does. We've kept the frenzy level going for years, with all the right catch phrases like death panels and job creators, right Karl?
KR: Like handing the mob some freshly lit torches. Anyway, there's this rancher near Las Vegas who has been ducking paying his grazing fees for decades. He doesn't have enough land to support the size of his herd, so he uses federal land. He signed a permit requiring him to pay a buck and a quarter a month per cow with the Bureau of Land Management, about a quarter of what he'd pay to a fellow rancher. Anyway, his ploy is to say he doesn't recognize the US government and says that Nevada should have sovereignty. So he's never paid the fees he's agreed to and now owes over a million dollars. Of course this let's him sell his beef with less overhead, and that million is pure profit.
CK: Don't you just love that business model?
KR: Anyway, the BLM has given this guy ways to settle, and in court he just plain refuses to fork over a dime. So the BLM says that they're going to confiscate any cattle grazing on BLM land and apply revenues that result from sales as paying towards his fine. But this guy, his name is Cliven Bundy if you can believe that, doesn't want to let them and has threatened them not to touch his cattle.
DK: I see where you're going here. We've needed to bolster a new hero. We didn't get a lot of traction out of Joe the Plumber. This guy has the key elements: rancher, standing up to the government, big talker with guns I assume.
CK: To make him a hero, he's got to be more than a lone wolf.
KR: He needs backup. Dozens. Hundreds even. I can have people from ten different militias down there in 24 hours.
DK: Make it 12. The wingnuttier the better. Foaming at the mouth with twitchy trigger fingers.
CP: Doesn't it matter that the BLM has every right to take his cattle like that? Isn't what Bundy is pulling off like inducing welfare? By not paying the fees, aren't taxpayers subsidizing the profits? How is he not a moocher?
DK: None of that matters. We've got a rancher trying to keep Obama from rustling his cattle, and there will be Fox coverage 24/7.
CK: Are you sure Bundy will be able to stay on script? Shouldn't we vet him a bit first? If he's going to be a hero, we need him to personify the proud everyman, not be a loose cannon.
CP: That's right, sir. We have to make sure he has the right degree of intellect; stay within our target IQ of between 85 and 105. You guys got a little too close to that lower border when you gave Michelle Bachmann those talking points and let her loose. That doe-eyed cover on Newsweek really captured her cluelessness and cost us some believability points. We're already on shaky ground here having the same last name as a serial killer.
KR: Yeah, Bundy is a little low on the scale, but his memory is OK and the perpetual cowboy hat cuts us a little slack. And Fox can always cut his air time down to 15 seconds of the key phrases. It's all in the setup, not the payoff.
CK: I'm still a little worried. Perhaps we should take the pressure off Bundy, make him the secondary mouthpiece.
DK: Karl, see if you can find someone to add legitimacy, a credible spokesman.
KR: How about a sheriff?
CK: Excellent. Bundy can't be an outlaw if he's got a sheriff backing him up. Actually, make him a "former sheriff" so he's not bound by any obligation to the truth or established law.
KR: That's going to take some digging. I don't know if I can get that together in 12 hours.
CK: Call your man in the NSA. They've got info on everybody, on all sides of the political spectrum. Have them cross-reference for blog activity in both militia and law enforcement. Maybe add in The Peacekeepers. But try to find a guy within a 200-mile radius so it's not obvious we flew him in.
KR: Within 200 miles of Las Vegas? Not a lot to draw from.
CK: With enough data, there is always a solution. Money buys options. And by controlling the media spin, having Rush and Hannity and Fox in our pockets, truth and integrity are no longer barriers. We can go well outside the lines. And the left can't come near them because of our ability to take a kernel of truth and twist it towards our propaganda goals.
DK: Which brings us to what we want shown to optimize the anger. We may start with a millionaire moocher, but all it takes to turn that is the simple image of the rancher trying to save his herd from Obama's minions. The visuals will be key here. We've got to get camo-clad "sovereign citizen" types nose to nose with BLM personnel.
KR: Ooo, ooo, how about images of guys with riffles on the ground in firing position!
CK: Excellent. This is coming together perfectly. Good job, Karl.
KR: Thank you. [The model has taken off Rove's sandals and is lathering up his feet. A giddy smile comes over him as he sinks down in his chair]
CP: Does this mean that there might be the possibility of bloodshed? That would be bad, right?
CK: Are you kidding? That would be ideal! Doesn't matter which side takes the wounds, we can make it fit our slant either way.
DK: Barring that, the best case scenario is that the government backs down and doesn't get any Bundy cattle. Then we've got the US government with its tail between its legs. The feckless phrase will fly again.
CK: And we don't need actual bloodshed, just presenting a scenario to get conservative imaginations running wild. Have our sheriff say that he'll put women out front as human shields, like in Iraq. (Don't mention Iraq, of course) Not only will that present the image of a battle that can't be lost, it will add a little lust into the mix with men thinking of a row of women packing significant heat.
DK: All right. Here's the flow: Karl. Karl? Are you listening? Make the calls to the militias and to Fox. I will handle getting our personal jets to the militias when you've confirmed them. They probably wouldn't be able to get that kind of hardware on a commercial flight. If they drive, offer up a $400 per diem. Charles, bring in all the internet trolls to make sure logic and reality face a storm of hate, disgust, name-calling, and arrogance.
KR: This is going to be great! A standoff that can't be lost!
CP: Shouldn't we consider-
DK: Stand down, CP. We have what we want. It won't go beyond epic bluster, trust me. And if it lasts for weeks, we dominate both right and left wing dialog. With the latter thoroughly engaged, we can slip more stuff through to bolster our advantage. When it come to bait and switch, the bait doesn't get much tastier.