Denver: This has been a crazy 24 hours. I had flown from San Diego into Phoenix late on a Thursday night. Running in the pre-dawn near the airport I had ended up in a complex of a half-dozen two-story buildings with neon signs that said Phoenix University – On Line. I was traveling through the mother ship of the Phoenix “campus” I assume, if campus is what you call something that is “on-line.” After a half-day of meetings with our people in Phoenix, I had done a favor in Denver for Green Corps and their trainees, and tracked down our staff later in the dives along East Colfax Avenue. The only good plane to New Orleans was leaving a little after six in the morning, so I was up and out on the streets in the dark at half-past four. Continental upgraded me to first class to Houston, and there I sat half-conscious with the Saturday morning New York Times.
Why do you care? I don’t know, but I’m trying to be transparent here and disclose the situation fully. Normally, I don’t study the Times as part of the zombie undead. I read through it, slipping and skimming from piece to piece on my way to do something else. On Saturday morning I was incapable of doing anything else, so I became as obsessed with each and every story like the most committed straphanger in the city. Each one of these manic folks has probably already figured this out as they have been trapped in the dark underground, just as I was finally able to do high in the clouds on that Saturday morning.
There is no one in America today who does not know that Karl Rove just took us to organizing school in the successful construction of George Bush’s re-election victory. An ass whipping was administered, and as Pedro Martinez, the great Sox pitcher recently taught us, Karl Rove “is our daddy!”
Nonetheless, once burned is still twice learned, and reading the Times high in the air, I could finally see the facts – Rove was spinning us on values! Big time!
First, remember the last election in 2000 when Rove and his people somehow got traction with an amazing story fabricated out of Texas that Bush was doing better among Hispanics and had doubled his vote, blah, blah, and blah. Part of an acquired “legend” became Bush’s appeal for Hispanic voters. Truth was indeed different. Bush had not improved his vote and had no such demonstrated appeal with Hispanic voters! Rove was just playing us with disinformation. The political pros all recognized it later, had a good laugh mixed with awe and admiration, and went on in 2004 to once again whip Bush like a dog in virtually all Hispanic areas of the country this side of Little Havana.
Now here was Rove’s game again just as plain as day. He had specialized in moving the evangelical vote for the last four years for Bush. He had taken the task personally. He didn’t want to just be a winner, he wanted all the credit – he wanted to be a magician.
Two messages went out almost simultaneously the day after the election.
The first was the “factoid” that exit polls were indicating that of all the reasons folks were voting and voting for Bush, “values” was the far and away winner. The second was that the evangelicals had finally really delivered the vote for the President, they were a force to be reckoned with finally, and King Karl had been the stick stirring the drink.
Immediately, true confession time two days after the election, pollsters, leading with the chief pollster for Pew Research, correctly belled the cow pointing out that the “values” question was a ringer. All of the rest of the issues were clear, concise and had meaning, while the question of values was big, hairy, ugly and amorphous meaning anything and everything to anyone who answered. All elections and all issues are about values, really, aren’t they? The question was not a harbinger of the future, but a total outlier that should have been completely discarded wholesale.
It was hard even with my bleary eyes to miss this since the Times, god bless ’em, ran two articles and two opinion pieces (one from the right and one from the left!) all of them drawing the lines with precision along the dots from point to point that “values” had no meaning and was not in any way, shape, or form what the election was about or turned on.
The second point was hidden better, so maybe I should take a little more credit here, or maybe I was finally coming out of the fog, but no matter how hidden, it was still there a gold vein running along the incline of the mountain of election news. The evangelicals had delivered nada in this election! As the analysis was coming forward from the election and the exit polls, the evangelicals voted at exactly the same strength and percentage as they did in the last election in 2000. The elephant had heaved a mighty mouse.
Their numbers were stuck at 15% in the only area that one could clearly circle on the “values” barometer. Just to compare, labor is taking a beating in the post-game wrap-ups because their vote fell from 26% to 24% of the Democratic vote. The evangelicals and their buddies were 15% again of the winning Republican vote and it is in their interest obviously to spin their numbers and make their play for power and prestige, and if they can get away with it, good for them, and shame on us for being lazy and gullible. That is the heart of politics and political thinking, which is not an area known for any values whatsoever!
But, King Karl had been their man and their chief organizer, and he had spun the whole country like a giant top.
And, he rules! It is undeniably brilliant for him to try to con, cajole, and lead the Democrats in their post-election sackcloth and ashes, blind behind their tears, to waste precious time, energy, and resources trying to figure out how to compete in the area of values which at the heart is a false competition, just as the supposed resurgence of Bush appeal in among Hispanic voters was a similar mirage. One can see the poor Democrats believing that they now have to fashion a program to compete with the Republicans at the core of their strongest and most rabid constituency. King Karl is leading them to vast acreage along deep ravines and dead end canyons to mine worthless fools’ gold.
This election was not won on values. Period!
Karl is just trying to spin us from top to bottom. He’s good, but he’s not our daddy!
The truth is plain as day. We are going to really have to look for the answers, not grab the false ropes to quicksand shores.
It’s not values, stupid! Take it from me, not Karl! It’s plain as day and the facts are clear, just hidden behind the fold of another massive news cycle hoping to catch all of the us in the audience of cheap seats while the professionals have a good laugh and go on making the train run in an opposite direction.
You’re being spun!