Monday, June 23, 2008

Republican Framing 101

Karl Rove is teaching us all how it is done:

ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Rove's statement has nothing to do with the political skills of the candidates (Obama and McCain) and almost nothing to do with reality. McCain, for instance, is much, much wealthier than Obama. The "country club" reference is intended to evoke feelings of bitterness about the rich who go to such places, but of course African Americans have not traditionally been welcome in them at all. So Rove scores a double here in turning facts upside-down. It's McCain who would be a much better example of someone doing those things in a country club when he was younger: A military hero and all!

That whole statement is intended to provoke teenage feelings of resentment among those who hear or read it, to spread an odd veil of emotional envy towards Barack Obama, to poison the air with the ideas that it is he who is the elitist and not McCain even though McCain has considerably better qualifications for that role.

But of course all this is your typical Rove maneuvering: Take a fact and turn it completely back-to-front. Attack the strengths of the opposition and argue that they are the real weaknesses.

Because Obama's strength is partly that he is NOT in the ruling elite nor in the moneyed elite. If anything, he has the power of the outsider, and it is that power that Rove tries to destroy by his smears.

What Rove does is not that different from what Maureen Dowd does, every week in the New York Times: Encouraging people not to engage their thinking minds but instead decide on the world based on some very silly stereotypes and emotional grudges from past youth. This makes me very angry, because what is at stake is the real lives of people both in this country and elsewhere. Even their real deaths.