Ken Mehlman's Strategies to Get a Win for George Bush; and a Strange Blind Spot; If you Don't Know Who Ken Mehlman is, you should.
By Rob Kall
A few days ago I realized that Ken Mehlman is working the "Permission Slip" as a Republican Symbol/Meme that cognitive scientist George Lakoff would probably characterize as a framing approach.
In his state of the Union campaign speech, George Bush said, "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country." Now, Ken Mehlman is using the "permission slip" as a repeated buzz word, meme, symbol to evoke a response that assumingly will engage voters. He used it twice in a recent fund raiser speech .
If you're wondering who Ken Mehlman is, I'm not surprised. None of the sampling of highly informed pundits I asked today knew who he was. I call that a blind spot. He's the Chair of Bush's presidential campaign, and I assume, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs, working directly under Karl Rove, who he speaks to and swaps emails with several times or more each day. .Mehlman, 37 years old, also appears to work closely with another denizen of the darkest side of Republican politics-- Grover Norquist. But my first effort at Googling him turned up very, very little, outside of a bunch of anti-semitic paranoid mentions on websites obsessed with the Jews controlling America and George Bush. So I went to the Bush official campaign website and lo and behold, I was spelling his name wrong. It's Mehlman. Still, it's interesting to see that red-neck hate groups don't like him.
Mehlman's speech, which I happened upon while watching C-span, lays out a pretty clear picture of the overt issue strategy Bush intends to stake out in the election. Of course we can expect third party attack dogs to use all the dirty tricks in Pandora's box to go after whichever Democratic primary candidates are in the lead, and finally, after the chosen Democratic candidate. I say Pandora's box because fortunately, so far, Bush's attack surrogates have been pulling off stupidisms-- dirty tricks that bite back, like the Plame outing.
But getting Back to Mehlman and his permission slip strategy, while researching Mehlman's speech, it became clear from the absence of his presence on Google search, that there's a strange BLINDSPOT here. Google "joe trippi" Howard Dean's former campaign chair and you get 31,200 pages from Google. Google Ken Mehlman and you get under 4530 hits.
I love blind spots. Previous discoveries of them have had major effects upon my life, as I've dived into them, exploring un-explored reaches of human nature. This one offers promise. So here are some of the results of digging up info on Bush's campaign manager. I enter this with the spirit of curiosity and the hope that the dirt that continuously sloughs off the Bush administration, like dung off a slopping pigs flanks, will also show up in Mehlman, maybe even enough to derail him as campaign chair, so the Bush campaign will have to adjust and start over.
A bio on Mehlman from 2002 reports that he worked on George Bush senior's campaign in 1992. That's a good sign. But he also worked on George W's campaign . The bio reports
"In January of 2001, Ken Mehlman was appointed deputy assistant to the President and director of White House political affairs. In this role, Mr. Mehlman oversees all aspects of the President Bush 's political agenda by working with members of Congress, federal agencies, state parties, and community groups."
IN a January 5, 2004 interview in the right wing, neocon publication, Commentary, Mehlman claims, "when you consider that Democrat soft money groups, funded by the likes of George Soros, will raise and spend anywhere from $450-$500 million expressly to defeat the President."
I have to wonder where he gets these figures from, but I'm sure he'll use them in every fundraising venue he appears at. This is a fear based organization and they make things up to get reactions and support. Nothing new here.
He also remarks, "One interesting point to note: because of reapportionment, the President could win in 2004 the exact same states as in 2000, but gain 14 new electoral votes overall."
On the potential for Bush to use Gay marriage as a "wedge issue" Mehlman replies, "...the President believes that the principle of marriage transcends politics..."
Yeah. Right. Bush doesn't let his puppet handlers put a word in his mouth that isn't political.
Mehlman goes on to comment on accusations that Bush is a "miserable failure" or unpatriotic, saying, "The President is focused on the American people, not politics. And the American people will decide whether these attacks go too far.
"One thing that no one can dispute: these angry, negative, and reckless attacks are unprecedented. When in 1980 inflation and unemployment were out of control, Americans were waiting in gas lines, and our hostages were seized, Ronald Reagan never attacked Jimmy Carter as a "miserable failure," nor did he resort to personal antagonism. He proposed solutions, not attacks.
"In 1992, Bill Clinton strongly believed he should replace President George H.W. Bush. Yet he never compared President Bush to a foreign enemy, as John Kerry did when he compared President George W. Bush to Saddam Hussein and called for regime change. Clinton was always respectful.
"What we're seeing now from the Democrats - the personal attacks, the negativity, the deep pessimism and biting anger - is a marked departure from all previous political discourse in this country. As Chairman Gillespie has said, it's "political hate speech", and there's absolutely no precedent for it. And we'll find out what the American people think about it next November."
Of course, the truth is, the Bush team has scores, if not more, of syndicated and local right wing talk show hosts and callers-in to excoriate and abuse democratic primary candidates and, soon enough, the man chosen to lead the fight to throw Bush out of Washington.
In a 2001 interview published on the Washington post website, with Charles Babington, he summed up the Bush perspective; "Our unifying principle is our common belief in limited, but effective government. We all believe in lower taxes and balanced budgets; in improving education by emphasizing accountability and insisting on results; in a strong national defense; in empowering people with more control-- over their retirement, their health care, their pensions and over decisions made in their communities."
Hmm. Less government? The Bushies just want different government-- military.. Balanced Budgets? Ha! improving education? Double Ha! Empowering people with more control over their retirement? The way he's going, there won't be any social security money left, so people WILL be fully responsible for their retirement. Empowering people with more control of their health care? Let's see. The new medicare presecription legislation prevents people from getting lower priced medications from Canada and hands puts the whole prescription drug business into the hands of the pharmaceutical giants. Decisions made in their communities? Bush is pushing for federal legislation that tells people how to live. States rights used to be a Republican issue. Not anymore.
Take a look at this prescient letter from Mehlman, written on Bush/Cheney campaign letterhead, dated December 7th, 2003, calling Democratic candidate attacks on Bush "ugly" and "angry" with a link to a video ad showing angry shots of the December front-runners-- Gephart, Kerry and Dean. Interesting that within the next month the right wing media-- Fox, the talk shows, and the right wing anchors and commentators all went after the leading Democrat, Howard Dean, with a vengeance. I wonder if it was part of Mehlman's "covert" election strategy to get the right wing media and right wing sympathizers who also happen to be news anchors to characterize any attacks on Bush, any efforts by Democrats to awaken the justified anger Americans should be feeling, as something pathological, immoral, defective, crazy... etc., or worse, to attack any leading Democratic contender as emotionally unstable, weak, immoral, or otherwise unfit. It's a Republican playbook strategy they've used effectively before with previous democratic presidential candidates.
In a speech to the Republican National Committee (RNC) on July 7, 2003, he said, about Bush, "He united our nation behind solutions that would transform crisis after crisis into opportunity after opportunity."
The truth is, Bush has created the crises or allowed them to happen. And well, yes, Bush does like to create opportunities, but not ones that are good for the people of America, nor good for America. Rather they are opportunities to reward his crooked corporate cronies. This is the most corrupt administration in US history. Fortunately, they also appear to be bumblers who will eventually get caught.
In that same speech to the RNC, Mehlman evokes the right wing echo chamber, saying, "We must echo the President's message and share his positive vision with America. We need you on talk radio. We need your letters to the editor. We need your emails. And we need your blogs."
Other simple strategies he describes, which the Democrats should also consider implementing, include:
"We must employ new technologies like voter vault to re-energize our grassroots and to ID as many voters as possible.
"We must sign up county chairmen, precinct leaders, and Bush team leaders to recruit new activists, to register voters, and to sign up volunteers.
"We must use every county fair this summer to have a Bush-Cheney and a state party booth to welcome new volunteers and to sign up new voters.
"And we need Republicans present at every naturalization ceremony to say the same thing to today's newest Americans that was said to the father of our new chairman: "Welcome to America. The party of Lincoln wants your support, your ideas and your energy."
In a fund raising email, Mehlman suggests that Democrats are raising money from foreign contributors, and worse, he says, "If you thought liberal special interest groups raising foreign cash to attack our President was bad enough ... Democrat presidential candidates are doing it too!"
My guess is, if he's accusing the Democrats of doing it, the Bush team is certainly doing it.
Mehlman comes up repeatedly in Google pages referring to his CD Scam, in which a "lost" powerpoint he presented before the 2002 elections showed different numbers projected on key Republican races, than he was overtly reporting was found on a sidewalk . It would seem likely that Mehlman will use a typical Bush policy of saying one thing and doing the opposite, will use third parties to deliver ugly news or to damage others, and that, since he's a Harvard grad and no dummy, he'll be just as devious as the best (worst) of the Bush political covert operatives. He'll put on a pretty face, and make nice to the public, while orchestrating personal attacks, reputation smears, false information reports and worse, all done by third parties-- PACs and the right wing, ever so willing media. maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he'll be an honest, nice guy. Do you think Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Grover Norquist and folks like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney would pick someone who lied, planned covert ops and misled the public? Naaah!
The more we know about the chief strategist for the Bush campaign, and his strategies, overt and covert, the better those of us planning on unseating Bush will be able to anticipate and prepare the ground for assaults and strategic actions. We know they will go for character assassination. We know they will assail strong funding sources. We know that they will characterize appropriate attacks on Bush as crazy, angry, ugly, etc. We can expect them, through third parties, to use the media to hurt the family members of the candidate. I feel sorry for the wife of whoever gets the democratic nomination. The treatment Hillary gets now will seem royal in comparison.
Oh yes, I was going to talk about the "Permission Slip" strategy. That'll come soon.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor/founder of OpEdNews.com, president of Futurehealth, Inc. and organizer of the Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and StoryCon Meeting. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached. Over 150 other articles by Rob Kall Rob's Blog
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