Lee Atwater was Karl Rove before Karl Rove was Karl Rove.
Oh, my– how the left detested Lee Atwater. Why? As George H.W. Bush’s Campaign Guru and later Republican National Committee chairman in the late 1980’s, he pasted democrat Nominee Michael Dukakis with a most dastardly label:
Yes, that’s all. George H.W. Bush went around the country calling Michael Dukakis a “liberal”.
And, it worked. Most notably, Dukakis was a Liberal. Big Time. Nowadays, of course, Bernie Sanders makes Michael Dukakis look like John Birch by comparison, but, whatever. “Liberal” is a slur that most politician avoid like the clap. In fact, most would prefer to be known as having the clap to being a “liberal”.
Thus, with Bush 41 correctly pointing out that Dukakis was a liberal, the Massachusetts governor plummeted from a lead of 30-some points over Bush in the early summer, to losing to him in the fall election.
Dukakis was a liberal. America doesn’t like liberalism.
This, or course, is why Hillary and the old grizzled Commie from Vermont insist on calling themselves “Progressives” or “Democratic Socialist”, or whatever: A scant 20% or fewer of Americans refer to themselves as “Liberal”. 40-plus percent call themselves “conservative”….
Conversely, the term “Conservative” has been effectively, well, raped, in the general culture by the political yip-yappers. It is now rather meaningless in the broader society when you have people –both unwittingly and knowingly– conflating “conservative” with “republican” or “globalist” or what-have-you.
I think it can be said, now– Ted Cruz made a tactical error in calling himself a “courageous conservative“, although he clearly is both– in spades. But, this grouping of adjectives only has meaning to those that might already be predisposed to vote for him. The casual citizen is really rather clueless, sadly, about what Senator Cruz is driving at.
I suggest he start calling himself something else:
“Conservative” has become largely meaningless in the wide-sweep of the not-very-engaged voting public– those outside the politically active and cognizant. Clearly, Cruz is Traditional: He believes in the traditional constitution, believes in traditional marriage. He believes in traditional gun rights, and traditional free speech. He respects the traditional relationship between the States and the Federal Government. And so on.
And then: He needs to grab the Trump voters by the throat, and go Full Atwater on Donald:
“Donald Trump is a Liberal!”
As Ted Cruz himself stated last week: The truth is an absolute defense against libel or slander. Donald Trump IS a Liberal: A 24-carat, diamond encrusted, leather-bound Liberal.
Trump needs to be HAMMERED –and I mean hammered, cudgeled, pile-driven— as the Liberal he is: And Ted’s the man to do it. Imagine in a debate setting:
“Frankly, there are no other words to describe the world view of Donald Trump. He is a liberal. For Mr. Trump’s whole adult life he has supported liberal causes, donated to liberal politicians, entertained a liberal world view. Quite clearly, he is a Liberal. Look: There are liberal Republicans. Such animals do exist: They are all over the place. And a great many of them come from New York.”
…And Donald Trump is a Liberal. Hit him with it, non-stop. He calls Ted a Liar? Ted needs to be truthful: Call Trump a Liberal. Lee Atwater has shown the way through the muck.
In fact, if I had just been hired as Senator Cruz’ newest communications director, I would encourage to make three seminal, important points over the next week: Over, and over, and over again.
Ted Cruz: Traditional.
Donald Trump: Liberal
Marco Rubio: Politician.
…THAT word ain’t very big on the hustings, either…