Friday, February 18, 2005

The New Thugs

Political Animal by Brian Morton
The New Thugs
Baltimore City Paper
During the Nixon administration, they called themselves “ratfuckers.” Run by Donald Segretti, they were the dirty tricksters that operated behind the scenes of the Republican Party. It was their mind-set that eventually created Watergate, as well as their downfall.
Since then, a new breed has arisen. The Reagan administration was their petri dish, the 1994 Newt Gingrich “revolution” their debutante ball. Gingrich himself provided their playbook, a 1990 memo with the Orwellian title “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” in which he told his acolytes to portray opponents as “sick,” “pathetic,” “incompetent” “traitors.” Setting the stage, he said in the memo to “apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals, and their party.”
The coaches who run Gingrich’s plays are well-known now: the late Lee Atwater and current Bush svengali Karl Rove. Atwater, known for running political campaigns designed to bring out the racist redneck vote—he helped former South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond win re-election several times—made the big time when he vowed to “make Willie Horton a household name” in the 1988 Bush-Dukakis election....