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McCain Running a Rovian Campaign

Image has not been found. URL: http://www.washingtonindependent.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/rove-300x262.jpgFormer White House Strategist Karl Rove (WDCpix)

The Obama campaign’s mantra is that Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, represents the third term of President George W. Bush. But, judging by the convention they’ve organized, they don’t really seem to believe it.

Starting early this summer, however, when three high-ranking acolytes of Karl Rove were injected into the top echelon of the McCain campaign, that organization has literally become the third Bush campaign — run by the same principles, using the same weapons. Now, in pure Rovian jiu-jitsu style, McCain’s TV ads have attacked the Democratic opponent’s strength — his very popularity — the way Kerry’s presumed strength — his military record — was shredded four years ago.

Mccain_5193.jpg
Mccain_5193.jpg

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Yet the Obama campaign fails to acknowledge they’re no longer running against a McCain campaign that is high-minded (?) and civil. They are, for better or worse, running against a Rove campaign. If you play defense in that kind of campaign, be sure to get the license number of the truck that runs over you.

McCain’s strength is a reputation as a maverick who opposes the sway lobbyists hold over Washington. So why is the Obama campaign so reticent to mention that, two days after McCain’s chief foreign-policy adviser got his lobbyist check from the nation of Georgia, McCain delivered a speech strongly endorsing — the nation of Georgia?

Has the Obama campaign been so transfixed — like most of the news media — by the Clinton psychodrama? Has Obama’s team been so obsessed with micro-managing media coverage of the veep choice, that they could let precious weeks go by when the candidate was on vacation and no No. 2 was available to take the attack to the opposition?

The only justification for the stupefying length of American political campaigns is that they serve as a dress rehearsal for a candidate’s ability to mobilize and manage a large, complex, chaotic organization. The Obama primary campaign passed that audition with flying colors, while the Clinton — and early McCain — campaigns dissolved in rivalries and discord.

But this ain’t the primary, and the opponent isn’t McCain. It’s the same apparatus that elected Bush twice.

As Al Gore proved eight years ago when he argued for “counting all the votes” in Florida, but just sued to count the votes in his four strongest counties — sometimes it pays to believe your own speeches.

Harry Shearer, the host of the weekly radio show, “Le Show” is a writer, musician and actor. His new album is “Songs of the Bushmen.”

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