from: Karl Rove
To: POTUS, The White House Brain Trust, the R.N.C.
cc: Sean Hannity
Re: Convention update
Well, folks, let’s be honest. I won’t try to spin you here:
The Democrats pulled it off in Boston. Their convention worked like a charm:
They moved to the center; they quieted the lunatic left; they barely mentioned
guns or gays-at least not in prime time.
Even the “accidental” release
of the bunny-suit pictures from Cape Canaveral didn’t ding their guy, and
failed to paint him as some kind of high-tech Dukakis.
(I suspect the explanation here is that between Kerry’s biking,
skiing and windsurfing getups, the public is no longer surprised when they see
him in full mufti. Either way, let’s give a shout-out to NASA here: Thanks for
the effort, guys. Nice try, anyway. The check for the next Mars mission is
still in the mail.)
Now sure, we all know that Kerry’s speech had more holes in it
than a disputed Palm Beach Presidential election ballot. Like what he
accomplished during two decades in the Senate. (Umm … nothing?) Or his fantasy
that, with a little regime change in America, the French are going to march right
in and bail us out in Baghdad. (Yeah, right. Grosse chance, Monsieur K. )
Still, I have to give him credit: It’s precisely the speech I
would have told him to deliver. Because in politics, perception is reality. And
coming out of the convention-in sound bites and photo ops-the message is that
these guys are smart, and tough, and determined to win.
So where does this leave us?
On the bright side, we have Kerry’s “friends” in the so-called
“liberal media” to thank for his less-than-stratospheric bounce in the
post-convention polls. Predictably, they nailed him on the speech-suddenly
rediscovering their “objectivity” at precisely the moment they should have been
at their most partisan. (But then, that’s the difference between our side and The New York Times : When we issue a
script, Sean Hannity sticks to it. Objectivity is swell, but passion wins
On the other hand, the economy is sputtering, the war isn’t over,
and nobody in this administration-from Ashcroft to Wolfowitz-is out there
winning prizes in the charm category.
So with fewer than 100 days left till the election, it’s time to
look at our positives and negatives, and focus on a new message. Clinton had
“It’s the economy, stupid.” But I suggest we borrow-and update-the words of
Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
We have nothing to sell, but
Scare the bejesus out of America with terrorist threats? Mission
accomplished! And although it’s too late to move our convention from New York
to someplace less hostile to our ideals (Fallujah, anyone?), here are my
thoughts on how to script this event:
-The President’s Arrival.
How do we top John Kerry arriving in Boston by boat? Simple: We restage the entire Robert Duvall helicopter-attack
sequence from Apocalypse Now . Ten
choppers, coming in low, out of the sun, over the Hudson River, blasting “Ride
of the Valkyries,” as G.W.B. hops out of a Black Hawk onto the roof of Madison
Square Garden and snaps off a salute to the SWAT teams: “Outstanding,
gentlemen!” The delegates will go wild. The protesters will be terrorized. And
it’ll drive the Democrats and the news media absolutely insane for at least one
entire news cycle.
-The V.P.’s Speech. We
want to present Dick Cheney as sober, calming and adult. I’m thinking cardigan
sweater, fireplace and cat, via video from an undisclosed location.
-The Band of C.E.O.’s.
Originally, I thought this was a swell idea. (“We supported him when he was out
of work; we still support him now!”) But I’m afraid it’s been overshadowed by
Kerry’s Band of Brothers. Solution: Fill that stage with firepower. Cops,
troops, even “independent contractors” if we have to. Hell, it’s New York City.
Even Laura Bush should be packin’ heat.
-The Film. Alas,
there’s no film from G.W.B.’s distinguished service in the National Guard. (At
least not involving the kind of “shooters” that Kerry was involved with.) So
let’s go the usual warm and fuzzy Republican route: kids, dogs, minorities and
Reagan. Flags are nice, too. Lots of them.
-The Demonstrators. How
do we turn this into a win? I’m thinking Nixon, paying a surprise visit to the
anti-war demonstrators at the Lincoln Memorial in May 1970. G.W.B. faces his
accusers? Brilliant! Great television! Shades of High Noon! Let’s pull together a list of “friendly” unfriendlies,
Let’s face it: The networks made jackasses of themselves during the
D.N.C.-running only three hours of coverage; complaining their presence was
irrelevant; blurring the line between entertainment and news by treating Jon
Stewart as the new Edward R. Murrow. (And hey: I like Stewart. But only Ted
Koppel seemed to understand the long-term damage here: If you don’t take
yourself seriously, why should viewers? Airing that rerun of CSI: Miami
was far more important for the future of the Republic.) In any case, this
is good news for us. We don’t need the extra scrutiny. (Note to C. Powell: Can
you ask your son Michael if there are any media mergers coming up? Let’s reward
these guys for shooting themselves in the foot.)
-Our New Slogan. Forget
“Help is on the way.” We’ve already started to focus-test the far more
simple and eloquent “Duck!”
In the end, let’s all remember that this election is going to
come down to 17 undecided voters in Ohio and Florida. Luckily for us, John
Ashcroft intends to visit each and every one of them-up close and
personal-during the next few weeks.
Let me know if you have any
P.S.: Memo to Rummy: I know
the original plans had the capture of bin Laden scheduled for early October.
But if we need him sooner, can we move this up? If the “softening up” process
works, I bet he’d make a fantastic keynote speaker.