Saturday, November 26, 2016

Matthew Dowd Is a Fundamentally Ridiculous Person



What follows is a Twitter exchange between a human windsock and professional journalist named Matthew Dowd and a rabbi who has some very simple, straightforward moral inquiries which Mr. Dowd would not touch with a barge pole:









Of course, as the man who helped cultivate and harvest these people's fear and rage on behalf of the 2004 Bush campaign, Mr. Dowd knows perfectly well who they are and what motivates them.  So perhaps someone would be so good as to direct Rabbi Latz to this article from Sidney Blumenthal in Salon from 2007 (I have highlighted a passage which is especially delectable given recent events):

Matthew Dowd’s not-so-miraculous conversion 
Is the former Bush pollster a true believer turned disillusioned critic, or was he an opportunist from the get-go?

...As the pollster who helped bring Bush to power and sustained him there, Dowd is expert in framing stories, and he has framed his own as a classic conversion narrative. But the political consultant cleanses his story of politics, so it is hardly surprising that there are gaps in the telling and characters missing. Dowd does not offer any explanation of why Bush has changed, only how he, Dowd, perceives the changes. Bush has become remote and untouchable, but he is not the hidden God, Deus Absconditus. Who has seduced Bush into his seclusion? Who has absconded with him? His Satanic Majesty, almost always present in conversion stories, is absent here. Dowd says nothing about Karl Rove, for to bring Rove into the narrative would alter it. Dowd attempts to blot out the politics with the personal, his soul-searching obscuring his poll taking. Yet he provided the diagrams for Rove’s machinations, the bright signs for Rove’s dark wonders.
...

A more mundane version of Dowd’s story begins with a little-known pollster in a state capital, laboring for a political party headed for seemingly perpetual minority status. Attached to the conservative wing of the Texas Democrats, Dowd was a partner in the Austin-based Public Strategies P.R. firm. Along with one of his partners, media consultant Mark McKinnon, he seamlessly shifted into the presidential campaign of Gov. Bush.

Dowd has given a couple of accounts of this painless conversion, attributing it variously to the shining impression made by Bush and the persuasive skills of Rove, whom he came to know well in the hothouse atmosphere of Austin. McKinnon told his friends he wasn’t a Republican, but a “Bush guy,” while Dowd, for his part, simply left it at that he had become a “Bush Republican.” Had they not jumped at the main chance that materialized, they would have been mired as provincial losers. Instead, they chose fame and fortune. Observers viewed their leap as symbolic of Bush’s unusual capacity for bipartisanship.

Bush’s loss of the popular majority by 543,895 votes in the 2000 election was a shock to his political advisors and prompted an internal rethinking of his strategy. During the Florida contest and before the Supreme Court delivered the presidency to Bush, Dowd wrote a confidential memo to Rove that analyzed data from the recent vote and argued that there was no significant center in the electorate. “Dowd’s analysis destroyed the rationale for Bush to govern as ‘a uniter, not a divider,'” wrote Thomas Edsall in his book “Building Red America.” Bush’s confected campaign persona as a “compassionate conservative” was suddenly discarded. The “architect,” as Bush called Rove, had an architect. Bush’s brain had an outsourced brain. Rove’s and Bush’s radical imperatives derived from Dowd’s conclusions...

The “war on terror” was the glue that held the Bush message together. In the political rinse cycle, Dowd transformed the disinformation justifying the Iraq war into platitudinous Republican talking points. In the interviews he granted, Dowd repeated them effortlessly. “Events in Iraq,” he told National Public Radio during the Republican Convention in September 2004, “and removing Saddam Hussein is all part of the war on terror. You can’t separate out removing a brutal dictator from a place that harbored terrorists from the war on terror.” One plus one equals three; the clock struck 13...

...After Rove executed Dowd’s carefully calculated targeting to produce Bush’s narrow victory in 2004, Dowd was triumphant. “Issues don’t matter in presidential campaigns,” he exulted in 2005, “it’s your brand values that matter.” For Dowd, facts didn’t matter either, only “brand” identity.

...Asked about the TV ads ripping Kerry, Dowd said on Sept. 22, 2004, on CNN, “I think it’s totally tasteful. And the American public is going to be fine with it.” He also blithely defended the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth defamation of Kerry’s sterling Vietnam War record.

...Dowd neither detailed nor did the Times mention his consulting work in the campaign last year of Richard DeVos, billionaire heir of the Amway fortune, for governor of Michigan. DeVos is a zealous follower of and major donor to the most extreme organizations of the religious right. His campaign against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm was marked by nasty ads falsely stating: “Under Governor Granholm’s administration, you can stay on welfare as long as you want.” These weren’t a new paradigm but old racial code words.

... His self-involved and tortuous explanation of his disillusionment helps cast light on the banality of his motives in his original defection from Democrat to Bush Republican. However traumatic his private drama, he appears fundamentally the same opportunist, a point subtly driven home by those who know him well...

Dowd has much to add to history as an eyewitness. What was Rove’s involvement in the independent expenditure negative campaign against Sen. John McCain in the Republican South Carolina primary of 2000? White House chief of staff Andrew Card said in 2002 about the propaganda campaign for the Iraq war, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” What was the marketing done to hone various rationales for the invasion of Iraq? In the 2004 campaign, exactly how was homosexuality targeted? What were the links between the Bush campaign and the Swift-boating of John Kerry? What polling was performed to determine how to discredit Kerry’s war record? After the indictment of Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, what polls did Dowd take to inform White House positioning? These are only a few of the questions that Dowd can illuminate with his special knowledge. But so far, his conversion lacks a confession...

Like Captain Renault in Casablanca,  Mr. Dowd appears to have no convictions beyond his next gig.  He blows with the wind, and these days the prevailing wind blows like a hurricane from the politically and professionally safe precincts of Both Siderism.

You see, a little over 62 million American meatheads and bigots and phony Christians took an 18-month-long look at a lying DayGlo fascist con-man with a lurid comb-over and a penchant for racism and decided "Yes!  I want that!  I want that supersized!"

But you can't very well go on the electric teevee machine and perform an act of genuine journalism by saying such a thing, because a large fraction of the those 62 million American meatheads and bigots and phony Christians are also potential customers of the purveyors of  dick pills and reverse mortgages who pay for the programs you see on the electric teevee machine.

Which is why, instead of journalism on the electric teevee machine, we get creatures like Matthew Dowd, who always knows which way the wind is blowing.

16 comments:

Jimbo said...

Amen. This is the world we live in now. We need to change things but aside from moving to a red state and hoping to get a job there, I'm not sure what can be done besides giving money to progressive people in those states.

BongoShaftsbury1 said...

I'm so sorry you had to kick my ass
You said I ruined your life
I didn't mean to do that
I had to untangle where we was entwined
It was strangling me, were you breathing so fine

The jam I was in when things weren't working out
Led me to the brunt of your swinging bout
I'm so sorry, I regret everything
What can I do to take back that swing
I'm so sorry a scuffle ensued

But things are so much better I guess thanks to you
I'm so sorry you had to pull my hair
I had to take care of business
There was a lot of business giving there
Vic Chestnutt

drbopperthp said...

I gave the rabbi a heads up drifty.

Digital Canary said...

"I want that supersized"

Matthew Good got it right in "21st Century Living" ...

http://www.nearfantastica.com/lyrics/21st-century-living.html

https://youtu.be/hzmorWWkg-8

Davis Statton said...

I wonder if Dowd has ever considered asking Trump voters to reach out to liberals on the Upper West Side? They have "values", too.

Don P said...

To follow up to Dowd's last tweet:

They're bringing misogyny. They're bringing xenophobia. They're White Supremacists. And some, I assume, are good people

proverbialleadballoon said...

So.. they are racists. That's been established, voting for Trump, they're soft racists, at the least. We need to get past that. Because we need to convince either the people who are so disgusted by the whole thing and didn't vote, and some soft racists, to see and vote liberally. Going 'racist, racist, racist!' doesn't do that. Clinton didn't get 2 million or whatever votes Obama got. She's been smeared in the press for a generation so if wasn't for that, this thing would never have been close, but still, _where was she the ten days before the election, after Comey twirled his mustache and said there's more emails? She didn't make her case! And she didn't make her case for why someone should vote _for her, not just vote against Trump. All her ads were anti-Trump, she didn't come out and say I'm going to do this, that, and the other thing. Trump grabs pussy, Trump's a racist, after a while, it's like who gives a shit anymore, and it was a whole year of it. There was no message that a vote for Hillary meant something, xyz would happen. Infrastructure, job retraining, futurization. Whatever, but when Trump talked about Nafta even though his tariff talk is bluster, he was indeed hitting on a big problem. I can see how that could convince a white person of normal intelligence who isn't necesarrily racist, but enjoys their white privilege. Racism isn't going to convince those people. There has to be something more. /thoughts on the whole thing, not just this post, been chewing on

Chan Kobun said...

Check that; title should be "Matthew Dowd Is a Fundamentally Ridiculous Person Who Is Paid Very Well To Be A Fundamentally Ridiculous Person"

drbopperthp said...

"Racism isn't going to convince those people. There has to be something more."

You're right. It's called death - and considering the 400 or so years it took to get this far, it will probably take at least 200 more years of die off before the slate is wiped clean. Until then, we'll just keep calling them out for what they are - from straight up racists on one end of the spectrum to closet collaborators and privilege pimps in the middle to the "I can't be a ______'cause..." crew on the other end. That's essentially the bulk of folks we'really concerned with - in my experience that leaves about 40% tops, that fall into the category of mensch (translation: muthafuckas like drifty who I know have refused to sign that covenant thingee and will knuckle up, back-to-back with me, when the lynch mob comes alookin')

drbopperthp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
drbopperthp said...

The Doctah likee Chan Kobun - him "just a (good) guy".

proverbialleadballoon said...

@drbopperthp: yes, we should keep fighting them on racism, but we need to be more than just _against something, we need to be _for something. Certain states we can write off, Alabama, Wymoning, where it's a lost cause, but we need to get back Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and not waiting 20 or 200 years for the people to die off. I'm saying that we need to face facts, and the fact is, a lot of people are a little racist, or don't care enough about the issue to be swayed by it. Now, do you want a suburban mom who's not really big R racist, but enjoys her white privilege to vote democrat or republican? Let's just write her off until she's dead? And lose another election or two or three? I believe that people like that need something more than 'the republicans are racists' to be swayed. Obviously a lot of people didn't give a shit about that this election, that message did not resonate enough to lead to a Clinton win. 53% of white women voted Trump, knowing full well that he grabs women by the pussy. The message that he's a sexist was not enough to sway them to vote for Clinton, _a woman! Let's just designate them self-hating misogonists and write them off until they die seems to be your answer to that.

steve simels said...

Shorter Matthew Dowd: The vast majority of Trump voters are good people even though they enabled a guy they knew was selling white supremacism.

drbopperthp said...

Proverb', I'm appreciative of the sentiment, and I'm going to assume that you're well intentioned and sincere, and that you might even be one of those folks that, like drifty, might have my back (and vice versa) when the Brownshirts/White Hoods come alookin'. What I don't appreciate is another presumptuous effort, in a looonnnggg line of repeated attempts, at prog/lib 'splaining. Particularly when it's replete with the usual shite I get from folks who I don't think have either lived the history, or been actively engaged in doing something to change it. I may be mistaken about that, on your part - if so, please let me know. Now, I'm going to keep the rest of this as simple, and to the point, as possible, for both our sakes. You posited three questions to me - the answer in essence if not specifically to each, being a loud and vociferous YES. That's what the fuck I, and increasingly so amongst my folks, "we" advocate doing at this point in time, Kemosabe. The lead in up to those three queries, and the fadeout following is little more than moot and redundant stuff I've already figured out for myself. I've been on this planet, in this country, fighting this fight for six decades now. My folks, collectively speaking, have been at it a hell of a lot longer, and they've tried everything from patiently staying in designated social/cultural/economic place to nonviolent outreach + kumbaya love to bloodying their hands and souls in it's martial conflagations, in order to earn from it/prove to it/shame it, with the purpose and end goal being one of securing to ourselves the mythic enfranchisement mentioned in
it's foundational documents. As far as I'm concerned, we're back to square one, and I'm now playing out the same role with my six year old daughter that her maternal great-grandmothet played when she had the "original talk" with me as a six year old Black boy from Detroit, on his first visit to B'ham, Alabama. I remember the tears streaming down her cheeks and the shame-tinged anger in her trembling voice, as she laid out the rules for survival to me, extracting a promise of obedience to each. My daughter asked me a few days prior to her sixth birthday, earlier this month, the following question - "Daddy why did that bad man win??" 400 fucking years of this, my man. Carved into the souls of my people. I told her that there are a lot of people in this country who are sick in their heads, and hearts, and don't really believe in God, and that we as a people will have to continue praying for them and fighting against them until enough of them die off, and enough of the other kinds of people are left, so that the world will be a better place. I didn't tell her that I had hoped that this change might take place in her lifetime, because I no longer have any hope for such.

Michael Latz said...

Wow--honored to be included in your blog! We must NEVER normalize hatred. I believe Mr. Dowd is a decent man but on this topic he's absolutely fundamentally WRONG.

proverbialleadballoon said...

@drbopperthp: I agree 100% with Rabbi Latz, a vote for Trump was a vote willing to overlook racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Democrats can't advance equality if they are not holding office. What economic message can be added to the equality platform, to convince the people that aren't that concerned about equality, but could be convinced to vote democratic otherwise. We can't just write off Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin for the next 20 years. Not much equality is going to get advanced that way! when republicans get in office and break it more.