If the underlying issue weren't so serious, it would almost be farcical that Karl Rove is now rolling out the same slimers he used to go after John Kerry's military record to go after AARP. Not that AARP is without foibles and flaws certainly. Many of those who are now celebrating the organization's determined opposition to phasing out Social Security were breathing fire a year or so ago when the group supported the White House prescription drug bill. But I have to confess to a certain degree of genuine curiosity and anticipation in waiting for whatever garish charges they are going to hurl at the, shall we say, rather unexciting seniors organization.
As you've probably already seen in the Times this morning, one of the Republican party's two main 'seniors' astroturf organizations, USANext is now reuniting the folks behind the SwiftBoat malarkey to go after AARP in the Social Security wars.
To drive home the idea that they are a seniors organization (despite the fact that there's no age requirement for membership) they've retained Art Linkletter as their national spokesperson/chairman, presumably because Lawrence Welk, being dead, wasn't available.
(The Times rightly notes that USANext's main previous claim to fame was as a slush fund or piggy bank for some of founder Richard Viguerie's other companies.)
To me, the main question that comes to mind about this is whether we will have to endure another round of media Kabuki theater over whether this is really a White House operation when it is so clearly a piece of Mr. Rove's handiwork.
Another thing that caught my eye was that Jarvis's outfit has retained the services of our old friend Chris LaCivita.
LaCivita, for those who follow these things, is a veteran astroturfer and hired gun, who's had a hand in all sorts of funny-business over recent years. We're most interested to see if he gets pulled in to testify at the oft-delayed trial of Jim Tobin later this year.
Tobin, you'll remember, is the former New England Chair of the Bush-Cheney Reelection Committee, who back in 2002, when he was the Northeast political director of the NRSC (the Senate Republican campaign committee) organized the phone-jamming hijinks to sabotage Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts in the Sununu-Shaheen senate race.
Sununu ended up winning by a solid enough margin that he probably didn't need the help. But two of Tobin's co-conspirators have now pled guilty in the case and Tobin (whose trial has now been delayed a few times) is scheduled, I believe, to go on trial in June.
Now, Tobin was the Northeast field director for the Senate Republicans and the guy he was working for was none other than our man Chris LaCivita, the political director of the committee in the 2002 cycle. The fairly obvious question of what LaCivita did or knew about the operation has, to the best of our knowledge, never been addressed.
Since then LaCivita, along with Tobin, went to work for that Johnny Appleseed of astroturf, Tom Synhorst and his outfit DCI. And of course last year LaCivita was doing the Lord's work helping to gin up the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to maul John Kerry.
Rove will resort to anything to scam Americans out of a program they support. But maybe he's not the only one willing to go to the mattresses in this fight.