Rove and Carville in Extraordinary Joint Op-ed Invoke Vic Election #vicvotes
Washington Post, 19 November 2010
Political Dark Arts Down Under Beyond the Pale
Karl Rove and James Carville
We have taken the strange — perhaps shocking to many — step of deciding to co-author this comment piece for a simple reason: the Melbourne Age’s shocking revelations on the “campaigning” activities of Victorian Labor has shaken us both to the core.
We are far from babes in arms or easily shocked when it comes to electoral politics. Neither of us are strangers to campaigning as contact sport, whether for Presidents Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. We have both earned — sometimes fairly, sometimes not — reputations among the political class and beyond as forceful and ruthless campaign strategists. At different times, we have been called “vicious”, “no-holds barred”, “take-no-prisoners” and “brutal” — and that’s from our friends. Our enemies say far worse.
But even we have limits when it comes to decency and ethics in political campaigning.
In recent days, we have been contacted by the Age newspaper in Melbourne who have sought our comment on several allegations regarding so-called electioneering by the Australian Labor Party in the current state election in Victoria. It is no exaggeration to say that, independently of each other, we were stunned and speechless at what we discovered. It was then we decided to take the extraordinary step of joining forces and reaching across the aisle to put aside traditional enmity and call for an end to this outrage.
We do not want to dwell on the ghastly allegations at the heart of this scandal, but they include:
- A suggestion that the ALP conduct what can only be described as “research” into political opponents.
- That this research is used for the explicit purpose of discouraging voters from voting for these political opponents.
- Today, stunning revelations emerged that Labor may be using social media to promote itself and provide unflattering contrasts with these same political opponents.
- Even more extraordinary are claims that campaign volunteers, some of whom work in politics, are engaging in, and shamelessly keeping a record of, social media activities, including Twitter.
- There are persistent but unconfirmed rumors of leaflet distribution outside supermarkets and, if this can be believed, directly into letterboxes. The probably aprocyphal specter of “door-knocking” has also earned whispered mentions in some quarters.
These dark arts are, quite simply, beyond the pale.
If the Age qualified for Pulitzer Prize, surely this extraordinary series of investigative reports would earn at least one. Who can now deny that the Victorian Labor Party is responsible for a series of coordinated activities blatantly designed to increase its levels of electoral support in the coming election?
This will reverberate around the world and send a warning across the bows of political parties everywhere: if you campaign, you will be caught.
James Carville, who managed Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, is a political commentator for CNN.
Karl Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of the forthcoming book “Courage and Consequence” (Threshold Editions).