Thursday, June 08, 2006
I cannot say that I'm entirely surprised by the Busby results in CA-50 on Tuesday. The minute I heard her gaffe, I knew it would become an iconic symbol of the Republican's meme for this mid-term --- Democrats are stealing elections by having illegal aliens vote. They can piggyback on the Democratic drumbeat of the last few years about stolen elections and rile up their racist base all at the same time. It's tailor made for them.
The Republicans have figured out something that the Democrats refuse to understand. All political messages can be useful, no matter which side has created it. You use them all situationally. The Republicans have been adopting our slogans and memes for years. They get that the way people hear this stuff often is not in a particularly partisan sense. They just hear it, in a sort of disembodied way. Over time thye become comfortable with it and it can be exploited for all sorts of different reasons.
In this instance, there has been a steady underground rumbling about stolen elections since 2000. Now we know that it's the Republicans who have been doing the stealing ---- and the complaining has been coming from our side. But all most people hear is "stolen election" and they are just as likely to paste that charge onto us as they are onto them. It's like an ear worm. You don't know the song its from, necessarily, but you can't get it out of your head.
We have created an ear worm that the Republicans are going to appropriate --- and they will use it much more aggressively and effectively than our side did. They are already gearing up for it. As I mentioned a month or so ago, Karl Rove was at the Republican Lawyers Association talking about how the Democrats are stealing elections. I can't find an exact transcript of his talk, but it exists on C-SPAN for 30 bucks if anyone wants to watch it. Raw Story caught a few excerpts although not the ones I recall about about the dirty elections in the "state of Washington and around the country."
I want to thank you for your work on clean elections," Rove said. "I know a lot of you spent time in the 2004 election, the 2002, election, the 2000 election in your communities or in strange counties in Florida, helping make it certain that we had the fair and legitimate outcome of the election."
Rove then suggested that some elections in America were similiar to third world dictatorships.
"We have, as you know, an enormous and growing problem with elections in certain parts of America today," Rove said. "We are, in some parts of the country, I'm afraid to say, beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where they guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored sunglasses. I mean, it's a real problem, and I appreciate that all that you're doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the ballot -- the integrity of the ballot is protected, because it's important to our democracy."
Nobody can ever accuse these Republicans of not having balls. It's really breathtaking sometimes. This is not an isolated remark. Here's an excerpt from yesterday's Chris Matthews show:
MATTHEWS: ... What did you make—we just showed the tape, David Shuster just showed that tape of a woman candidate in the United States openly advising people in this country illegally to vote illegally.
MEHLMAN: It sounds like she may have been an adviser to that Washington state candidate for governor or some other places around the country where this has happened in other cases with Democrats.
But the fact is, one thing we know, the American people believe that legal voters should vote and they believe that their right to vote ought to be protected from people that don‘t have the right to vote.
That is almost verbatim what Rove said at that lawyers conference. He also singled out one very special "voting rights" Republican lawyer named Thor Hearne, about whom Brad Friedman did a great deal of investigation last year. (Links here.):
Karl Rove spoke to Republican lawyers this weekend (carried on C-SPAN) and thanked them for their work ensuring "clean elections" in 2000 and 2004.
He singled out Mark F. "Thor" Hearne by name. Hearne was the National General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. who, along with RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, created the so-called non-partisan "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) just three days before being called to testify before Rep. Bob Ney's (R-OH) U.S. House Administrative Committee hearing in March of 2005 on the Ohio Election. The front group, which declared tax-exempt 501(c)3 status, has still failed, to our knowledge, to disclose any information of it's funders or proof of their 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan status. They operate out of a PO Box in Houston, TX, though neither of their founders live in Texas.
ACVR was the only "Voting Rights" group called by Ney to testify at the hearings, and identified himself only as a "longtime advocate of voter rights" in his testimony. He failed to mention his connections to Bush/Cheney '04 Inc.
Hearne and ACVR have done little more since they opened shop beyond creating propaganda reports to suggest that their is an epidemic of Democratic voter fraud in the country to encourage state legislatures around the country to implement Democratic voter disenfranchising "Photo ID requirements" at the polls. Their charges of a voter fraud epidemic has been roundly disproven in various court cases around the country. (Though it does appear that at least one voter, Ann Coulter, seems to have engaged in voter fraud lately.)
They have been gearing up for this for some time. However, Rove had wanted to use this against African Americans, not Hispanics. He knows that alienating the Latino vote is the kiss of death for the party long term. But it's out of his hands now. Immigration has a life of its own and I suspect it will be quite easy to adjust the plan and the machinery to try to 1) get out the base, 2) suppress the Latino vote which is now heavily leaning democratic and 3) serve as a rallying cry and cause when they lose seats and possibly their majority. This will be immediately played for 08 with a whole bunch of "voter integrity" legislation. They will be screaming to high heaven. Lou Dobbs will have his aneurysm removed on live television.
The Democrats could have innoculated against this when the Republicans stole the 2000 election, but they didn't. Had they been screaming bloody murder for six solid years about Republican vote fraud, it would be much more difficult for the GOP to suddenly glom onto this issue. Instead, it was a mere underground drumbeat that was heard, but only in the vaguest way. Now the CW about stolen elections is going to be turned on us --- and we will be on the defensive fighting both the charge of electoral fraud and being soft on criminal Mexicans because we need illegal aliens to stuff the ballot boxes for us.
Francine Busby couldn't have done anything more helpful to the Republicans than saying what she said. (I know she was misquoted and taken out of context. That means nothing when dealing with the RWNM.) She gave them a test run on their November plan and it worked out perfectly. Here's Robert Parry on how this works:
At dinner a few weeks ago, a well-placed Republican political operative was oozing confidence about GOP prospects in the November elections, not because the voters were enamored of George W. Bush but because the Democrats and liberals had done so little to improve their ability to reach the public with their message.
By contrast, he described to me a highly sophisticated Republican system for pouncing on Democratic “bad votes” and verbal gaffes and distributing the information instantaneously to a network of pro-Republican media outlets that now operates down to the state, district and local levels.
This huge conservative media advantage has now contributed to dooming Democratic hopes for snaring the vulnerable suburban San Diego seat of imprisoned Republican congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
In the June 6 special election, Republicans reported a last-minute surge of support after conservative media outlets trumpeted a verbal blunder by Democrat Francine Busby, propelling Republican lobbyist Brian Bilbray to victory by about four percentage points.
If we allow the Republicans to define this next election as they usually do, it will be about immigration and voter fraud. If I were in Vegas I'd be placing a bet on it. And it won't take a gaffe like Busby's. They will attempt to create a national story, which will be exploited in the last days of the campaign in various individual ways through their media infrastructure. If they lose it will be blamed on dishonest vote stealing Democrats and illegal aliens. If they win it will be be because they fought back against the dishonest vote stealing Democrats and illegal aliens. Unless the Democratic party wakes up and figures out a way to both define the election to our advantage and counter this move, it's going to be much harder to dislodge those GOP incumbents than we think.
I think this election is going to be all about turn-out and Democrats are stupidly resting on their laurels on that count. More on that in the next post. (If I can access Blogger...)
digby 6/08/2006 02:46:00 PM