Monday, August 20, 2007


Over the years I've sensed the Hand of Rove in a number of events he probably had little or nothing to do with, but even I think this is going too far:

...In the run-up to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when it was not yet clear who Bush's opponent would be that November, Rove and his aides had begun to fear that their most dangerous foe would be then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

... instead of attacking Edwards, Rove's team opened fire at Kerry.

Their thinking went like this, [former Rove lieutenant Matthew] Dowd explained: Democrats, in a knee-jerk reaction to GOP attacks, would rally around Kerry, whom Rove considered a comparatively weak opponent, and make him the party's nominee. Thus Bush would be spared from confronting Edwards, the candidate Republican strategists actually feared most....

"Whomever we attacked was going to be emboldened in Democratic primary voters' minds.

"So we started attacking John Kerry a lot in the end of January because we were very worried about John Edwards," Dowd said....

Do you remember the White House attacking Kerry to the exclusion of all other Democrats during the primary season? I don't. (It seems to me that the target of most GOP attacks was Dean, even after his candidacy sputtered out.) I certainly don't remember thinking, "These guys really hate Kerry -- golly, he must be worth voting for!" Anyone else remember feeling that?

Do you even remember thinking Edwards could win? I don't. I remember he seemed to go from being an also-ran behind Dean to being an also-ran behind Kerry.

In any case, this all comes in an L.A. Times article that advances the theory that Rove is attacking Hillary so we'll vote for her (because he's thinks she's the easiest top-tier candidate to beat). Er, I don't know -- I think he's attacking her because he sincerely thinks she's the easiest top-tier candidate to beat.

The Times could be right, however. But does this kind of psych-out even work? Maybe Democrats should test the proposition -- maybe Democratic candidates should increase their attacks on the apparently rather beatable Mitt Romney. In any case, if he does get the nomination and he loses, some Democratic political operative should certainly try to puff up his reputation after the fact by claiming that Romney's primary-season success was all a Democratic trick.

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