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Saturday, January 21, 2006

lunchtime video!

Today's lunchtime video is Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman laying out the Republican strategy for victory in the 2006 elections. It seemed to me to be a kind of State of the Union for the Republican Party. You can find it here and at C-Span.

What's fascinating about the speech is that it was done publicly and therefore for a wider audience than simply the RNC members and GOP consultants. In that way, Rove appears to be inventing a new kind of political speech: simultaneously a blueprint for political victory and a stump speech in its own right. Of course, because it's public and he's speaking to an audience wider than simply that room, you have to approach with cynicism the idea that this is truly and simply their game plan. It is, obviously, only that which they felt comfortable making public and a little hot rhetoric to boot.

It seems to me that Rove is trying to do three things here, if not more. (more in expanded post)

First, he's trying to remind the GOP that even in bad times they are powerful and have brilliant people who can write an alternative narrative and message to the one that they're currently having to deal with. The section at the beginning where he reminds them where they came from in the last 40 years and what they've accomplished is a perfect example of that, as is the message he lays out (and what it obviously ignores). Second, he's making a statement about their confidence in his own legal standing that they hope will calm reporters down. He is technically still under investigation by Fitzgerald's special prosecution of the Plame Affair and because he was willing to do this speech they must feel confident that he won't be indicted. If he were indicted, the Democrats could simply spend the rest of the cycle reminding the voters that their opponents are working from a game plan written by an indicted man. I doubt they're dumb enough to risk that. Third, the speech is an indication of how the GOP wants to approach the '06 cycle, not simply in the message that Rove lays out, but in its timing. In terms of laying out a public message, this is really early. The elections aren't until November, the intense campaigning won't really start until the summer (TV ads, etc.) but the GOP knows that it needs to start to change the narrative (which has been pushing the comparisons to the '94 Republican Revolution, and talking about the Dems winning big by promising to clean up Washington) soon. They also want to draw the Dems out and make the political battle more extended, probably because they feel in the long run that they're safer in a open political battle than in a set of simmering DC controversies. It will be interesting to see how long the Democrats wait to really rev up their message machine (and how good the message is...).

Alas, all of this is amateur guess-work. What do you think?


At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are as qualified as any tv pundit to do amateur guesswork, and at least you admit that is all it is.

rove's strategy tends to be to take the opponents strength and turn it in to a weakness (i.e. a child advocacy judge is cast as a pedophile, mccain's adopted daughter becomes his illegitimate black child, kerry war hero->kerry the medal-collecting coward): in this case, the democrats' strongest case is to push the incompetence and corruption of the republican party machine.

A good guess (though only Rove could pull it off) would be to turn the tables on the dems. start hearing on the talk shows whisper campaigns about unbelievable levels of corruption among the entire democratic party. The attempt to make Abramoff into a Democratic lobbyist is already underway, and I would bet that allegations of Democrats' being involved in war profiteering, engineering the failed Medicare act (Rove is SO going to pin that on the democrats as their failed big government liberalism), etc.

The underlying theme is still going to be that which he states--national security--perhaps with a buildup to "being tough on iran" or some other litmus test issue to hammer the dems with, but look (even on a local scale) to those characteristics that Democrats see as giving them strength. Imagine their counterpart in a bizarro world in which up is down, and that is probably the weakness Rove will try to exploit.


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