Commentary: The Mayor and the "Bogeyman"

Sep 19, 2012

Two small items in the New York Times from the Democratic Convention caught my eye.  The first was that Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, is now leading a Democratic SuperPac, one of those new types of fund-raising organizations, trying to pry big dollars loose from liberal donors.  Some of these donors have refrained out of principled opposition to SuperPacs.  Others have more personal reasons.  For example, George Soros has taken a pass because he could not get face time with President Obama.  So it will be a tough sell.

If I were mayor of the murder capital of America, which Chicago is, and my teachers were on strike, which they are, I would want a hobby to distract me too.  But Emanuel is well-known, hard to say no to and Democrats need help with the money chase.

The other news item was headlined “Catching Sight of a Bogeyman.”  Some delegates on a bus in Charlotte saw Karl Rove on a street and took to booing and hissing.  And well they might.  Rove has been dashing Democratic hopes since 1994 when underdog George Bush beat Ann Richards for governor of Texas.  Rove ran Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000 and, with the help of Al Gore’s ineptitude as a candidate and the Supreme Court, won an upset victory. 

Rove also fashioned Bush’s reelection in 2004, which was perhaps even more of an upset.  He’s BAAACK, running Crossroads GPS, a major Republican SuperPac that is raising money at a rate liberals can’t match and pouring tens of millions into races across the country.  If I were a Democratic delegate on that bus I’d boo too.

Rove’s genius is to see better than anyone else in America how to exploit election rules and technology for the benefit of his candidates.  In 2004 he understood that a superior ground game in Ohio was the key to Bush’s reelection.   For the 2012 election he understood, before anyone else did, that the new campaign finance rules would allow him to raise and spend unprecedented sums of money, and he stole a march on Democrats, with results that will resonate in November.  Rove sees the big picture and is husbanding his millions carefully for the home stretch.  Many of the attack ads coming soon to a TV set near you are courtesy of Karl Rove and, once again, might make the difference in a very closely contested election.