Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rove, Rove, Rove Your Vote

After fours years of suffering through George W. Bush's first term, and three and a half years of having to suffer through his second, many of us have been wondering what it will take for this country to wake up and make some fundamental changes regarding how this country is run. Finally, we've seen an answer. Apparently it takes a perfect storm of disasters to shake people into cognizance of the downward spiral we're all taking. Apparently it takes a faltering economy, a disastrous war, skyrocketing fuel prices, an increasingly worthless dollar, and the realization that we still haven't caught bin Laden--dead or alive--to rile the majority of Americans up.

As sad as it may be that it takes that much for people to demand change, that's reality. And so with the country being driven into the ground by the current crop of Republicans, Americans are demanding--finally-- a real change in power. Polls around the country are showing widespread support for a Barack Obama presidency. Virginia--a state once staunchly Republican--now boasts a majority of its voters favoring Obama. Other typically red states such as Colorado and Florida are showing similar trends. Nationwide, polls show Obama with anywhere from a 6- to 10-point lead over McCain.

But the election is far from over. Anyone who's paid any attention at all to American politics in the past ten years knows that something isn't right. Republicans don't just let things like this happen. That McCain is down so low in the polls makes me think that the Republicans aren't entirely focused on convincing people to vote for the Arizona senator and his Alaskan sidekick. Instead, they're exploring all the ways that they can obtain enough votes to fill the White House for another four, horrific years.

So what are they up to?

I can only guess, but here are a few thoughts I have on the subject.

First and foremost, when I said that Republicans don't let things like this happen, what I really meant was that Karl Rove doesn't let things like this happen. Karl Rove is widely regarded as the mastermind behind George W's presidential campaigns (as well as many of W's damaging policies.) During the 2000 presidential election (which incidentally followed a successful primary for Bush, during which Rove orchestrated a smear campaign against none other than John McCain), Rove & Co learned an important lesson: you don't need a majority of the voters to win an election. Many debates remain surrounding the 2000 election, but one aspect that is not up for debate is that Al Gore won the majority of the popular vote. It also just so happened that in Florida--the most hotly contested state of '00--the Republicans had numerous operatives already in place, including Katherine Harris, and George's own brother and the state's governor, Jeb Bush.

So is Karl Rove behind McCain's campaign at all? Rove left the Bush White House about a year and a half ago, ostensibly to become a lobbyist. Rumors--mostly unsubstantiated--circulated that he was in fact leaving to prepare to orchestrate the campaign of whichever Republican presidential candidate would merge. Since then, he's appeared on Fox News as an "independent consultant" and "former senior advisor to President Bush". Those labels paint Rove as being unaffiliated with the current Republican candidate. Of course, since it's Fox News, those labels are also meaningless. Moreover, there is plenty of evidence that Rove is a large donor and informal consultant to McCain's campaign.

So Rove may be behind the scenes at McCain headquarters. If he's not, then it's fair to assume that there are numerous Rove proteges, anxiously to take over as head Republican smearmaster, election-stealer, and overall slimeball. So in the remaining week to week-and-a-half (depending if we wind up in political overtime this year) we can expect to see some Rovian tactics employed.

Rove's lesson from 2000--that winning voters isn't necessary in order to win an election--was apparently put into practice four years ago. John Kerry was slightly ahead of Bush in the polls on Election Day, 2004. Exit polls--which up until that year had always been accurate and reliable--placed Kerry with a 3 point victory over Bush. Yet when the results came in, Bush wound up with a 2.5 point victory over McCain. Remember also that it was during that election cycle that Walden O'Dell, the CEO of Diebold--the manufacturer of the electronic voting machines used in states like Ohio--told his Republican friends at a party fundraiser "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Ohio, of course, became the most narrowly-contested state. Its exit polls gave the win there to Kerry; the Diebold machines gave the win there to Bush.

It seems those same tactics might already be rolling out for the current election. The Charleston Gazette reports that a number of West Virginia early voters are reporting that electronic voting machines there have switched their Democratic votes to Republican ones:
"This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for 'Barack Obama' kept flipping to 'John McCain'."

Meanwhile, Republicans in other states have been attempting to keep Democrats from the polls this year, with varying levels of success.

Given Obama's insurmountable lead, coupled with McCain's incoherence and Palin's laughability, it seems that the droves of mini-Roves have given up trying to con the American people into believing that a McCain presidency is a good idea. Instead, they seem to be focusing their efforts on forcing a such a presidency upon the American people using whatever means necessary.

Of course, there is another option, one that I hardly dare hope for. It could very well be that Rove is completely out of the picture. And that the Republicans are really in shambles. And that--dare I say it?--Obama might actually win.