A brief sojurn into grubby electoral politics:
Recall from years ago, the enormous amount of press received by GOP strategist Karl Rove as George W. Bush’s political “Brain” ? A similar role with Barack Obama is played by Illinois Democratic political consultant David Axelrod, except that Axelrod keeps a far lower profile than Rove did and Axelrod has inifinitely better relationships with the working press, notably with the nominally Republican Chicago Tribune where Axelrod was formerly a political reporter and columnist. Axelrod is also tightly connected to Chicago’s all-powerful Democratic Party boss, Mayor Richard M. Daley, another longtime Axelrod client; and to Exelon/Com. Ed. , the politically powerful Illinois utility that contracts with Axelrod’s public relations firm and whose employees have been among the largest financial donors in Illinois to the Obama campaign.
What kind of campaign can we expect from Axelrod in the general election? Overtly positive themes and public posturing complemented by covertly delievered and mercilessly negative “stiletto” attacks against key people around John McCain that are not directly traceable to Axelrod. The model for this strategy is the previous Obama senatorial campaign in Illinois, where Obama’s two most formidible, centimillionaire, rivals, Democrat Blair Hull and Republican Jack Ryan were personally destroyed in the primaries when salacious details from their sealed divorce records were mysteriously leaked to the media, which then pressured for their full release, notably in the pages of the Chicago Tribune. Thus, ultimately permitting Obama to run against an out-of-state, clown candidate, religious conservative firebrand Alan Keyes, in the general election.
Negative political advertising is reliably effective, something known since the days of Murray Chotiner running Richard Nixon’s California races, but the information age imposes “blowback” costs when it is used too openly by a candidate. Axelrod’s long courtship of the media will permit similar “fingerprint free” attacks against the GOP to work unless McCain’s campaign is smart enough to start doing social network analysis of key media people crossreferenced with Obama Campaign functionaries and Axelrod associates.
It’s also noteworthy of how little escapes Axelrod’s attention. The conservative intellectual and writer, Dr. Stanley Kurtz, has been digging into the UIC archives on Senator Obama’s extensive political relationship with Dr. William Ayers, the 60′s radical and unrepentant ex-Weatherman terrorist, now a professor of Education at UIC where he is a leading advocate of politicizing teacher certification programs along Leftist lines (Ayers is the son of the late, prominent Chicago business leader, Thomas Ayers, former chairman/CEO of Commonwealth Edison and board member at he Chicago Tribune). Kurtz was invited to be a guest last night on Dr. Milt Rosenberg’s highbrow Extension720 WGN-AM radio show and discuss his research and Rosenberg’s switchboard and email system was instantly flooded and essentially shut down by an orchestrated wave of Obama supporters. While something of a local legend, Rosenberg’s radio show is, in the national media scheme of things, a fairly obscure program. Sort of a conservative NPR, except a lot smarter and writ small.
I would expect the ante be upped against Obama critics to include nuisance suits and worse if the fall campaign tightens.
It appears that the Obama-Ayers-Annenberg story, which I expect will soon feature the infamous pic of Ayers trampling a U.S. flag in an alley, is making it on to the MSM radar. Michael Barone does a superb job as political anthropologist here, explaining the ” Chicago Way” to Americans in more normal communities:
….Ayers was one of the original grantees of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization in the 1990s, and was cochairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama, then not yet a state senator, became chairman of the CAC in 1995. Later in that year, the first organizing meeting for Obama’s state Senate campaign was held in Ayers’s apartment. Ayers later wrote a memoir, and an article about him appeared in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” Ayers is quoted as saying. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”
Ayers was a terrorist in the late 1960s and 1970s whose radical group set bombs at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.
You might wonder what Obama was doing working with a character like this. And you might wonder how an unrepentant terrorist got a huge grant and cooperation from the Chicago public school system. You might wonder-if you don’t know Chicago. For this is a city with a civic culture in which politicians, in the words of a story often told by former congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House counsel Abner Mikva, “don’t want nobody nobody sent.” That’s what Mikva remembers being told when he went to a Democratic ward headquarters to volunteer for Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and it rings true. And it’s a civic culture in which there’s nobody better to send you than your parents.
Read the rest here.