Monday, April 2, 2007

Politics of Destruction - Obama's Rovian Stategy

Barack Obama has found great success through his Rovian campaign techniques of personal attacks. These attacks have been very effective for him in diverting the attention of the public from the issues most affecting the public.

Obama needs to divert people's attention from his 8 major votes against choice, his 29 major votes against civil rights and civil liberties, his 14 major votes against the environment, and his 20 major votes in support of continued war. A thorough breakdown of Obama’s Senatorial votes is listed at

At Obama's side is his key political consultant and advisor, David Axelrod. Axelrod and Obama have a long history of pushing exposés about the personal lives of Obama's opponents, sort of a Kenneth Star approach to politics.

"Axelrod is known for operating in this gray area, part idealist, part hired muscle. It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had “worked aggressively behind the scenes” to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama’s TV ad campaign started at almost the same time. Axelrod swears up and down that “we had nothing to do with it” and that the campaign’s television ad schedule was long planned. “An aura grows up around you, and people assume everything emanates from you,” he told me."

If the Blair Hull situation were an isolated incident, it could be viewed as an unfortunate episode of political misjudgment. It was so successful in giving Obama a win that his campaign did it again in the general election. Once again, Obama's campaign checked the court papers for an something dirty about an opponent's divorce and found that Jack Ryan had taken his former wife Jeri (Seven of Nine from "Star Trek Voyager") to some inappropriate club. Jeri stood by her ex-husband, but Obama's campaign of destruction resulted in Ryan dropping out of the race with the Republican Party only having two and one-half weeks to find his replacement. Obama's Rovian tactics landed him the Senate seat.

In Obama's current Presidential race, the candidates are finding he is continuing his path or Rovian destruction of his opponents. Obama, through his fundraiser David Geffen, is once again on the personal attack, this time going after Hillary and Bill Clinton. Hillary is considered by Obama's campaign to be the frontrunner and ripe for Obama's Rove-style politics. If other frontrunners emerge, they will have to be prepared to see Obama publicizing their personal lives and attacking them for things completely unrelated to politics.

If Obama could tell the truth about his voting record, he might not have to resort to Rovian tactics to do well in the 2008 primary. So from what is it that Obama is trying to distract voters? Obama's trouble with Hillary is that her voting record is less pro-war, less anti-choice, more pro-civil rights and better on health care and the environment than that of Obama. If Obama told the truth or stuck to the issues, he wouldn't have many supporters outside of Karl Rove and conservative Democrats. However, he would have a lot more integrity than the entire lack thereof he has been demonstrating in politics up to this point.

While Hillary's voting record is more progressive than that of Obama, she is a long way behind true progressives, such as Dennis Kucinich when it comes to issues of peace, health care, protecting the environment, civil rights and civil liberties. Kucinich has always stood for integrity and courage. He doesn't back down from a fight and he sticks to the issues.

Voters deserve to a chance to see the issues discussed fully. They are most likely to see this in debates between Clinton and Kucinich, both of whom are more interested in issues than in the kind of personal attacks for which the Obama campaign has become known.