"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Friday, December 07, 2007

Memo to Karl Rove: We already have Our Karl Rove

Karl Rove,

What's wrong? Is the Republican field so abjectly depressing, politically savaged and land-mine-lined that you find more safety and comfort flexing your political muscles to help Democrats? If your recent political analysis for the Financial Times is any indication, then you better have a "Plan B" because not only do we already have Our (own) Karl Rove, but your analysis was one-dimensional. In fact, your opinions are actually sound and are in-line with many other commentators, which is why they have so little value.

Based on this recent article and prior analysis, it's becoming quite clear that your brand outstrips your capabilities as a political strategist. It turns out that you rode a political wave generated by conservative movements from every conceivable angle (security, religious, economic, moralistic, individualistic), and were then able to take credit by virtue of predicting that this perfect political storm would win Bush elections. In essence, you did exactly what you claim Bill Clinton did with the economy: you successfully took credit for something that was already happening.

In an effort to re-claim Our Karl Rove's turf from the insurgent Karl Rove, I will break with tradition and provide a presidential candidate with a political strategy prior to the nomination. Readers should feel free to publicly compare and contrast the opinions provided here with those of Their Karl Rove.

Memo to Barack Obama: Do Not Run Against Hillary


Contrary to the opinions of the media elite (which now include media-elite-hater Karl Rove), your best shot at winning the nomination is not to cast doubt on Hillary. Instead, you need to focus on your positive brand attributes: an independently-minded, globally-savvy, smart, capable, strategic candidate with fresh ideas that will inspire every American to feel good about being an American again. You can lift us up.

You simply don't need to bash your opponents to make your points if your points are self-evident. Consider these examples:

"I want to lift this country up out of its malaise; out of this funk; and into tomorrow with my vision for America. A vision rooted in the principles of our founding fathers: liberty, justice, equality, and the pursuit of happiness."

I am running for President not because I need to be President, but because I am confident that I am uniquely qualified to signal to Americans -- and to the world -- that America is ready to turn the corner. That America is ready to take on our challenges head-first. That America is ready to rise again as a great nation that not only earns the respect of our allies, but, importantly, earns the respect of those who might find it easier to hate us."

"I am quite aware that some of my colleagues think that I'm lacking the experience needed to take our country forward. While it's true that I might not have been a 5-term senator, a governor, or First Lady, I have spent my whole life being a leader. A leader of people, of ideas, of spirit and of serious solutions to serious problems."
In these examples, you are not only focusing on your positive brand attributes, but you are implicitly drawing a distinction between you and your competitors. It's positive sales, and a lesser candidate could not pull this off. Don't let conventional wisdom drag you down into being a conventional politician.

I know that you have too much respect for your democratic colleagues to truly throw them under the bus. It's a good slate, and you are too polished and decent to feel comfortable engaging in mud-slinging on the national stage. No matter what your advisers tell you, don't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Barack Obama is compelling to America only when he's comfortable in his own skin.

But being comfortable doesn't mean you can't be tough. In fact, there is a real toughness behind the thoughtfulness in your character. You need to display it at the right time, but you can't feign it. For example, since Hillary is not a threat to national security, it's disingenuous to concentrate your toughness on her. Instead, you need to channel your toughness through issues that require being and appearing tough -- like national security issues. For instance, show America your strength by talking tough about the small number of extremists who are looking to plan another domestic attack. Explain how you'll be tough by disarming them before they can do any damage. Explain how you will not accept any foreign nation to harbor, help, or fund any violent extremists. You must keep your focus narrow to the areas where toughness is required. This distinction will separate you from Hillary's and Bush's broad stroke approach that casts terrorist nets as wide as Iran's National Guard.

Of course, there are also specific policy areas where you do need to convey your vision and how it is unique and compelling. But like applying for a job, it's all about selling your unique qualifications -- not dissing your competition. You can win this through your new kind of politics. Don't fall for the "he's being soft" rhetoric -- it's not about being soft. It's about being the best option.

Remember: In sales, facts and figures help get you in the door, but once you're in the running, emotions close the deal. You need to use your passion, conviction and confidence in concert to be The Closer. Nobody else in the Democratic field has your closing skills.

America has let you into their homes to make the sale. They trust you. Now it's simply about closing the deal.


Anonymous said...

Hey, any advice for Biden? He's moved up to 4th in Iowa, NH and SC.

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...

I could give each Dem advice. And maybe I will now that I've shilled for Obama. My original idea was not to pick sides until the nom, but Karl got in the way.

So, maybe this leads me into a mini-series where I give each Dem some freebee messaging advice.

Certainly Biden could use some. Biden is a smart chap, and a likable fellow. But he doesn't have the gravitas outside foreign policy to be the well-rounded leader America is looking for.

Biden is a SME. Senators tend to end up being SMEs because its a legislative body. If you don't get in and out quickly, you lose your executive potential. Biden (and Dodd) unfortunately fall into this trap.

Nevertheless, Sooner, you are a great ally and friend and because you asked, I will think long and hard about doing a series for the potentials...


Anonymous said...

Jon, that's all I could ask. I was in state politics as a candidate or party official for about 8 years and have worked as a lobbyist locally and nationally off and on since. I have seen these guys up close and personal in their natural habitat...so I do understand the SME concept pretty well--and Biden is the Dean of Foreign Policy and is no slouch at Constitutional law. Biden is also one of the few candidates who seems to be comfortable in his own skin and speaks his mind (yes, that can get him into trouble, but...)I think if you look at Biden's platform on energy, the economy, protecting women against violence, funding MRAPs for out troops, etc, you might see that he could be a notable exception to the rule. Thanks, friend. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought about you when I saw that Their Karl Rove was offering advice to Obama. Anyone with the slightest experience with TKR would know not to follow that advice because it is offered in the spirit of sabotage. Your version of the advice is really good to see, and nicely consistent with the message you have been offering all along.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anybody talk about the wisdom of Dennis Kucinich, who got it right the first time on EVERY important issue that is facing Americans; starting from a war in Iraq, avoiding the war with Iran, Social Security, to single payer national health care (which is different from health insurance).

Is it because America likes tall guys and watches the candidates rather then analytically listening to what they say and remembering what those candidates did a few years ago?

Dennis Kucinich is the BEST that America can hope for...an honest genius who is probably the ONLY one smart and honest enough to get us out of the nighmare into which the Impostors in the Whitehouse have dragged US.

We should give him our full support in his HR Bill to impeach Cheny, since protection of Constitution is of utmost imoportance for democracy to surivive in US.

Anonymous said...

Obama is not mature enough to run for president. During last nights debate when asked a question about what the GOP candidates were saying about him he seemed flustered and admitted on national television that he did not watch the previous debate he was watching a football game on TV! Was that more important than learning how to beat his rivals?
I went to see him talk in Manning,SC. I sat next to some local police and security staff. They were talking amoungst themselves and were saying that Obama was joking backstage and had them in stitches. I want a president who is talking about local issues with local voters when he comes to visit SC, not joking to amuse himself. This does not seem like the actions of a mature individual who I want leading my country!

jules said...

His comment was actually about going back and forth between the game and the debate, and since the question to the repubs had been about how they would run against Obama as the nominee, it was his deft, humorous (and perhaps modest) way of turning aside the question of who the nominee will in fact be. I thought his reponse showed well on him.

As far as the other, I'd like to have a President who can speak with all people in our country.

And by the way, Duke, I don't think that qualifies as "first-hand knowledge."