Holy shit did Howard Fineman get spun. Digby’s got the details, but didn’t go as far to say what this says about Fineman. What a putz! He totally got spun by the Rove machine. He’s all regurgitating exactly what he was told about this 2006 campaign which, as Digby points out, sounds exactly the same as all the other Republican campaigns.
Yet as Fineman tells it (as he was told to tell it) “This fall’s election season is going to make the past three look like episodes of ‘Barney.’” He insists that this spells doom for the Democrats. Right. And how does he know this? Because that’s what Rove’s people told him. Does he tell us this? Does he indicate that he was told any of this? Of course not, because that would give away the whole game. Plus, he clearly thinks he’s got some big scoop on this; which is exactly how the Rovers do it. He actually wrote: “The way I read the recent moves of Karl Rove & Co.,” as if he’s figured this shit out on his own. Well where the hell are the tea leaves, Howard; because it sounds like you just took dictation.
And that’s exactly how they do it. Rove & Co tell you stuff as if they’re just randomly talking about strategy, and make you think that you’re putting together the pieces on the sly. As if that wasn’t exactly why they were told these things. And they don’t know they were spun; but nobody ever does. That’s the whole point. You can’t really spin people if they know they’re being spun. And that’s why the Rovers never do it that way. It’s all about friendships and sources and contacts. And making the newsman think that he’s the one doing the secret spy job. And the newsman is so busy trying to get his source to squeal that he doesn’t even realize that he’s the mark.
And the worst part is that Fineman sounds fascinated by all this. As a MSM mainstay, he’s supposed to be disgusted. He’s supposed to protest when he hears about politicians playing tough politics instead of focusing on policy. That’s how it works against the Dems. But somehow, that’s not the case for Republicans. Fineman seems to think this is all just turnabout; Bush has had a bad time for awhile, and now Rove’s just going to do that genius thing that he does. Reading this piece, I was somehow naïve enough to imagine that Fineman would eventually tut-tut all of this and lay-out how deceitful it was. But he never does. He just seems to be in awe of the Rove Machine; as if it’s just some inevitable, unstoppable act of nature that’s just getting started-up for election season. And that’s all part of how it works.
And it does seem to be working. Fineman knows that Bush is at 31%, yet somehow paints a story of Dems in despair. Like they made some big mistake by rousing the beast. That’s Fineman’s story and he’s sticking to it. But that’s not the story. The story is about deceitful Republicans, who are abusing their power for political ends. And the story is about how Rove’s henchmen are plying the press with these absurdist stories, to scare Democrats into screwing up; and how the media is falling for it. That an unpopular party with an unpopular leader is somehow going to crush us all. But that’s the whole point. And it’s not an act of confidence, but of desperation. Which Fineman clearly knows, and yet…and yet…he keeps typing it anyway. He’s had over six years to understand how Rove does things, and he still keeps getting whooped.
Rove’s main tactic isn’t all this big stuff he does on the ground, but the little stuff he does with the media. To get them to attack Dems and screw-up the Dems. And it keeps working. They keep falling for it, and doing Rove’s work for him. Because it’s really not that hard to convince religious Christians that they’re being persecuted or that they’ll get what they want if they vote Republican. That’s the easy part. The hard part is getting the media to not focus on this stuff. The hard part is convincing the media that the real story is with the Dems, and how they’re being crushed. And Rove does it. The focus stays on the Dems and how they’re helpless against Rove’s attacks and how they need to get better organized. But it isn’t Rove’s attack that trips-up the Dems; it’s the media’s. They’re screwing up the Dems, and it keeps working. And it’s still working. Fineman’s column is proof enough of that. He thinks he’s some prophet who has divined Rove’s latest strategy; when, in fact, he’s just part of the arsenal.