I've always had a soft spot in my
head heart for conspiracy theories. And I freely admit, this one's a doozy. But as the weight of what we're observing from the McCain campaign piles up I simply can't believe that a presidential run could be this inept, this dysfunctional by accident.
I have to believe, at this point, that history is repeating itself. Just as in 2000, McCain's presidential bid is being sunk by none other than that blight upon our collective unconscious, Karl Rove.
Think, for a moment, about Rove's main contribution to electoral shitslinging, the 'Rove Doctrine' if you will:
Turn your opponent's strength into a weakness.
If we proceed from the premise that McCain was Rove's enemy, what would that entail? What were McCain's strengths?
McCain was perceived by most observers to be a "maverick" -- his own man. He didn't toe the Republican line. He didn't suck up to the evangelical wing of the party.
He also had that reputation for "straight talk", for being willing to tell the truth even if it wasn't politically expedient or convenient.
He also was a media darling. The press corps adored John McCain, and that gave him a distinct advantage against any opponent, in terms of how narratives would be framed to the public by the people doing the framing.
What have we seen over the last couple of months? The systematic dismantling of all those strengths.
"Maverick McCain": McCain's embrace of Bush's policies started long before the election, but McCain has done absolutely nothing to try and derail the "More of the same" attack from Obama, short of constantly whining "But... but... I'm a maverick!" He's had plenty of chances to publicly repudiate Bush in some fashion in order to shore up that "maverick" image, and in every case (including, apparently, the current bailout debate) he's declined to do so. He has made some outside the box (or maybe off-the-wall) decisions, such as picking Sarah Palin as his VP candidate, but even those were obvious political panders and not principled stands. The Palin pick also made it clear that the days of him taking an antagonistic stance against the evangelicals were over.
"Straight talk": McCain, his running mate, and seemingly every campaign spokesperson he has have undertaken a course of outright lying about everything under the sun. Just within the last week we've seen blatant, easily disprovable lies about the lobbyist connections of his campaign staff, and the size of the crowds Palin has been drawing.
"Friendly media": McCain has, in addition to insulting the media's intelligence with the constant lying, also declared them his enemy in an effort to discredit the very public and ongoing vetting of Palin.
And who's been advising McCain to make these strategic blunders? Rove disciples like Steve Schmidt.
Let's also look at what Rove himself has been doing. Rather than join a particular Republican campaign he's taken up a pundit position at Fox Noise, but even in that role he's done a surprisingly weak job of buttressing the talking points of the McCain campaign: even going so far as to echo the idea that McCain's untruths were beyond the pale, rather than being politics as usual.
Rove is, and always has been, a Bush creature (although you could also argue that it's the other way around). McCain, by contrast, has his own agenda. Despite the Obama campaign's line a McCain presidency would not be Bush III; it might be better, or worse, but it would not guarantee the extension of Rove's influence. Rove, and his minions, are not interested in what's best for America, or even what's best for the Republican party. They're interested in what's best for the Bush family dynasty, and in their own power trip. And a McCain presidency would simply interrupt that dynasty.
Now consider the situation that will be left to the next president, particularly the budgetary situation if Bush gets his Wall Street
cash grab bailout. The next president will either have to raise taxes, take on even more crippling dept, or not have a dime to spend. That's a recipe for a do-little presidency, and a potential one-termer. If that one-termer is McCain, the Republican brand is all but dead.
If that potential one-termer is Obama, however, suddenly the door is open for someone like Jeb Bush...
That's the Rove game plan that makes sense. Let Obama win, and let him try (and fail) to clean up Bush's mess, so that a new Bush (whether by blood or by ideology) can then 'fix' Obama's failures.
As if you needed another reason to oppose the bailout...