Karl Rove: Prince of Push Polling
By Daniel R. Morrow
If "push polling" is a crime against humanity, then justice has no chance of being served until Karl Rove, its ultra-right promoter, is seized and brought to trial. But wait a minute ... in what fair and noble land might such a thing happen? Certainly not in America, for no such justice exists. Its once passionate people are either too ignorant or apathetic to demand action. And why is that? How is it that most Americans are blissfully unaware of this remarkably despicable process that not only mocks democracy to the far edge, but finally hangs over our heads a Damocletian sword named Bush answerable only to the nation's most powerful conservative interest groups (United Polluters of America, International Cancer Stick Makers, Petrochemical Billionaire Boys Club, Weapons Inc., etc.--you know, the types who need to bribe politicians for special privileges).
First of all, what's a push poll? The National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) defines it as:
"A telemarketing technique in which telephone calls are used to canvass vast numbers of potential voters, feeding them false and damaging 'information' about a candidate under the guise of taking a poll to see how this 'information' affects voter preferences. In fact, the intent is to 'push' the voters away from one candidate and toward the opposing candidate."
The push poll is a Godzilla in sheep's clothing. The tragic thing is, the average American knows far more about Godzilla than about push polls.
Further, the characteristics of a push poll (well defined by the state of Maine - a place filled with intelligent people fed up with push polling) are as follows:
- A list or directory is used, exclusively or in part, to select respondents belonging to a particular subset or combination of subsets of the population, based on demographic or political characteristics such as race, sex, age, ethnicity, party affiliation or like characteristics;
- The survey fails to make demographic inquiries on factors such as age, household income or status as a likely voter sufficient to allow for the tabulation of results based on a relevant subset of the population consistent with standard polling industry practices;
- The pollster or polling organization does not collect or tabulate survey results;
- The survey prefaces a question regarding support for a candidate on the basis of an untrue statement; and
- The survey is primarily for the purpose of suppressing or changing the voting position of the call recipient.
In other words, phony and reprehensible from top to bottom. The push poll is a Godzilla in sheep's clothing. The tragic thing is, the average American knows far more about Godzilla than about push polls. The claxons need to sound. But aside from talk-showers like Al Franken, who will jolt Americans into consciousness? What of America's news media--CNN, for example? No help there, cause, you see, they poll too, and their own pollsters tell them their audience ("typical American consumers") care nothing for political campaign games, only more digestible items like tabloid-esque murder cases, celebrity hijinks, popular physical suffering, and the ever hopeful resurgence of SARS (the great media pseudo-plague of our time). Thus do they contribute to the wreck of their nation by giving "the people" what they want, not what they need. But would the latter not require actual value judgments, a balancing of right and wrong? Alas, such is not the way of media marketing guns.
Rove's been a Bush camper since Texas, his overriding goal to make Republicans (especially the petrochemical/weapons industry supported core) the ascendant party in America.
Hyperbole aside, it's a tragic fact that the vast majority of Americans, even educated ones, yet remain ignorant of Karl Rove's push polling tactics, the very instrument that put Bush in power. And I confess, I used to be an ignoramus until very recently. I knew the Bush marketing team used deceit and trickery to beat John McCain in the primary, of course, but never knew the scary particulars till I read Franken's "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." The Franken book frankly irritates me in some places, and in my opinion, Franken comes off as disingenuous in person, but his bit on Rove is dead on.
Anyway, so who is Rove, this Push Polling Prince of Foul Politics, this Reputation Shredder, this dark disciple of Lee Atwater, and how did he get his pal Bush elected? Rove's been a Bush camper since Texas, his overriding goal to make Republicans (especially the petrochemical/weapons industry supported core) the ascendant party in America. As journalist and author Ron Suskind notes:
"He's up early and works late, with an assured disdain for Marquis of Queensberry rules of political engagement. In conversation with scores of people who know him, the assessment ultimately is the same: For Karl Rove, it's all and only about winning."
Machiavelli in the flesh. And how better to enforce his desires than by push polling? In a show of political savagery never before encountered in American politics, Rove's push polls served the cause of then candidate Governor Bush in South Carolina. Within a short amount of time, John McCain's walk to the White House was disrupted by stories circulating like fire among South Carolina voters, stories push polled into their consciousness, namely that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that the Senator himself was a basket case due to being a POW in Vietnam, and that he was the father of an illegitimate black child following a tryst with a prostitute. How can conservatives and liberals alike not howl in disgust at these tactics?
Furthermore, we must ask ourselves how can we trust an administration that appoints individuals like Karl Rove to the uppermost position of influence ...
Furthermore, we must ask ourselves how can we trust an administration that appoints individuals like Karl Rove to the uppermost position of influence, a man who obviously soiled himself and his country? Even his method of push polled lying was dishonest and cowardly. But for true Machiavellis like Rove, it's never a problem. This is America. Rove wins. He's been laughing hilariously ever since South Carolina.
Despite his reputation for terrible retaliation against anyone who dares disagree with him, all Americans, White House officials, and even politicians of both left and right, must stand up to Karl Rove, and the other Roves of the world.
Our last and best hope for democracy depends on it.
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