So now we get some <$Ad$>details about how the Rove treatment works — and not just speculation, but with descriptions from former Rove staffers who helped organize some of his trademark whispering campaigns.
An article out this week in The Atlantic Monthly focuses specifically on a series of races Rove ran in Texas and Alabama in the 1990s.
The Alabama races in particular haven’t gotten that much national press attention in the past. And one of the most lizardly passages in the article describes how Rove launched a whispering campaign against one Democratic opponent suggesting that the candidate — a sitting Alabama state Supreme Court Justice, who had long worked on child welfare issues — was in fact a pedophile …
When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. One of Rove’s signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.
Some of Kennedy’s campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. “We were trying to counter the positives from that ad,” a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. “It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information,” the staffer went on. “That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that’s one of the ways that Karl got the information outâhe knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out.” This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. “What Rove does,” says Joe Perkins, “is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin’, tobacco-chewin’, pickup-drivin’ kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take.”
This is just one snippet from the piece. But when you read the whole thing, what happened in South Carolina in 2000 and what’s happening now with Kerry and the Swift Boat business will all seem a lot more clear.