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Louisiana Democrats Use Rove-Like Tactics Against Republican Bobby Jindal

Reported by Marie Therese - August 24, 2007 -

According to a report from Wednesday's Special Report (8-22-07), Louisiana Democrats are fighting back against Bobby Jindal, the Republican candidate for Governor. Taking a page right out of the Karl Rove Campaign Bible, Democrats went after one of Jindal's supposed strengths - his devout Catholicism - and turned it against him. In 1996 Jindal, a Hindu who converted to Catholicism, wrote some inflammatory statements about Protestants, which Democrats have read verbatim in a political ad. Jindal's opinions reiterated a kind of elitist, separatist concept prominent in the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II and Pope John XXIII. It seemed that even FOX News - an organization peppered with Roman Catholics like John Moody, Neil Cavuto, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity - found it difficult to find something redeeming to say about Jindal's pietistic scribblings. With video.

The anti-Jindal ad seemed tame compared to the massive smear campaigns launched by the Rove machine against Harold Ford in 2006, John Kerry in 2004, Max Cleland in 2002 and John McCain in 2000.

It's only taken the Democrats seven years to figure it out. As Rove has said repeatedly, attack an opponent's strengths, not his weaknesses.

Look how the right has decimated John Edwards, using just that strategy. He started the campaign as an attractive man with a solid marriage and two beautiful children, the very epitome of the American success story. A poor kid who worked hard to become a lawyer. He earned millions in damages for his generally poor or middle-class clients, becoming a wealthy man in the process. He was speaking a very real truth, that there are two Americas: One for the haves, the other for the have-nots. So what did the FOX News-right wing noise machine go after?

First his looks. (The Breck Girl)

Then his masculinity. (The Fairy)

And finally his financial success. (The Big-Spending Hypocrite)

The GOP did not want to run against an Edwards-Obama ticket. Barring an act of God, they've gotten their way, unless Edwards hires himself a shark for a campaign manager and claws his way back.

Karl Rove may be spending more time with his family these days (awaiting subpoenas, one hopes) but he is still pulling the strings and setting the agenda - because his tactics are now so much a part of the sinew of the GOP machine that his influence is felt, even if he's not at the helm.

While it looks like the Louisiana Democrats got the message in their campaign against Jindal, one wonders about the rest of the Democratic Party.

If they don't wake up soon, the right-wing attack machine will have decimated all but the one candidate they really want to run against - Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama's strengths: Good looks, beltway outsider, lovely articulate wife, sex appeal, youth, family man, religious, millions of small independent-minded donors, Oprah Winfrey's support.

Mark my words. Watch them go after him on just these attributes. In fact, they already have.

For example, when the Obama Girl video did not have the desired effect and actually improved Obama's name recognition and sexiness, FOX News and the right wing began painting him as "inexperienced," "bumbling," "impulsive, "reckless" - all traits of someone not versed in "beltway politics" and "foreign policy," a candidate lacking gravitas. Within the past two days they've attacked his wife. In a classic political maneuver, they've taken something Michelle Obama said - a very general statement about family values that could apply to any of the candidates - and tried to twist it into a personal attack on Hillary Clinton.

It didn't matter how Michelle Obama addressed the issue. She claimed her remarks were aimed at Rudy Giuliani, which is born out by a careful re-reading of her statement. But that's not what's important to the right wing machine.

They are in full panic mode because the economy - once considered a bright spot in the Bush Presidency - is melting away like the wicked witch of the West. Despite some limited military success in a couple of provinces in Iraq, the all-important political component of Petraeus' plan is MIA. The al Maliki government is barely functional. Petraeus himself on several occasions, when he was presenting this plan, emphasized that it would not work without a political "surge" as well.

As predicted by some Democratic strategists (even on FOX News), Republicans are beginning to jump ship, having gotten an earful from their constituents during the August break. Thursday's news that John Warner is now speaking openly about withdrawing troops bears this out.

Once again, James Carville's 1992 comment has come roaring back to bite the Republicans in the hind quarters.

"It's the economy, stupid!"

Americans have finally figured out that millions of their family members, friends and neighbors stand to lose their homes to predatory mortgage companies while a billion dollars a week of their hard-earned tax money is being pumped into a country that shows no signs of having the political will to solve its own problems. Add to this the fact that the kids' toys, Fido's dog food and grandma's toothpaste aren't safe, the bridges are falling down, it's hotter'n hell, the crops have died and the livestock isn't doing so well, either.

Nope. I don't envy any Congressperson who returned home this August.

But I have a sneaking suspicion the Republicans got the brunt of the anger.

Now, ain't that just too bad ...