Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scooter Libby & the Death of the Republican Party

The NEWS that former Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby has been convicted of obstruction, perjury and lying to FBI in investigations into leaks of a CIA operative's identity will send shockwaves through Washington. He got his comeuppance. Sleaze is sleaze, whether it takes place in Downing Street or the White House. But this could have more far reaching implications. Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who has a new book to promote (Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear) reckons the Republican Party is dead. He's given an interview to Vanity Fair magazine (click HERE). Here's the intro...

Around the corner from the trial of Scooter Libby, during a late-afternoon
break, Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, was telling me that the Republican
Party is kaput. "The brand isn't just sick—it's dead. The G.O.P. is cracking
up." (Luntz is a marketer marketing his new book, Words That Work: It's Not What
You Say, It's What People Hear, about political marketing, and knows he needs a
compelling message. We have a brief discussion about whether his thesis about
the end of the Republicans might get him some publicity.) The Bush
administration, in other words, could well have brought one of the greatest
marketing and P.R. success stories of the modern era—the rise of conservatism
and the Republican Party—to an end.

It may be smart to analyze the Libby trial and the Republican Party in marketing rather than political terms. Effective marketing is the Republican lifeblood—developing and crafting and delivering the message. The Democrats surely would never have been organized enough or clear enough on their talking points to have convinced the media and nation of the rightness of war. "The Democratic message comes out of academia, which is chaotic. The Republican message process comes out of corporate America, where the first rule is discipline," noted Luntz proudly, swilling Diet Coke.

Belated hat-tip to Wrinkled Weasel who emailed me the link to the Vanity Fair Story.


Anonymous said...

This is the bloke who backs cameron?

Iain - wake up.I wouldnt ask an Americam where his shed was, why put any faith in two bobs like luntz

wrinkled weasel said...

I understand that in your hurry to get this out, you might have forgotten my email to you, timed at 3.18pm alerting you to this article, and by implication, the imminent verdict.

A simple "thank you" in reply to my email would have been sufficient.

Theo Spark said...

This is crap. Everybody and their dog knew Valerie Plame was CIA. She was low level at best.

Observer said...

Simply because the Americans are sufficiently unimaginative to have any more than two parties, it seems unlikely that the GOP will disappear.....it could certainly do with some higher calibre leadership which since the Gingrich area has been basically men-on-the-make in the most crass manner

Anonymous said...

From Liddy to Libby.That's progress!

neil craig said...

If the Republicans collapse they are not going to be replaced. Under FTPT you don't get rid of the 2 big parties (well not since LLoyd George's day & he had a war to worry about). What happens is that the electoral system props up the corpse & sometimes allows somebody else to climb inside 7 move the arms).

They may lose the next election badly but will come back run by either Libertatians or Christians.

Anonymous said...

Mr Dale, why indeed would you want academia where people are intelligent enough to have diverse opinions.

Far better to have the sickening, stupefying, stultifying conformity of Starbucks/McDonald's/KFC/Burger King.

If this is what is Planet Cameron is going to look like, then truly we are all fcuk'd

Anonymous said...

Looking on the bright side, Dick Cheney might get his comeuppance when that blood clot goes to his heart or brain [although I've yet to be convinced that he has either].

Anonymous said...

I am envious of a legal system that can put away Scooter for, in theory, thirty years. Thirty years - he may not be alive in thirty years.

I suspect if Ruthie Turner was looking at a thirty year stretch, it might have lubricated her tongue just ever so slightly.

Helen said...

Iain, it is quite clear that you have not followed the case and that goes for a number of the comment-posters. The case against Libby was pretty well non-existent. He did not reveal Valerie Plame's occupation (which was known anyway) and, actually, was not accused of it; she did use improper influence to have her husband sent to Niger; the husband in question did tell a number of whoppers; and Libby not remembering what he said to whom when was more than rivalled by the witnesses not remembering anything at all. Oh, and what happened to Richard Armitage, the man who did "reveal" the truth about Plame. At the very least pay the Americans the compliment of not commenting without finding out something about what is going on. And so we should rejoice that the man might go down for 30 years for nothing at all? Fantastic.

Marquee Mark said...

Despite all appearences to the contrary, Blair is not President, so can't dispense the Presidential pardon that will mean Libby (after all the appeals processes have been exhausted) spends barely a year inside.

Instead, Downing Street has to resort to ensuring there is no conviction inthe first place...

Marquee Mark said...

theo spark,

My dog claims not to know she was CIA. I think he may be lying, although he may not have known that Brewster Jennings and Associates, her "employer" was tracking Iranian nuclear development - and so had to be put out of business if there was to be an Iraq-style obfuscation of real intelligence ahead of another (politically and financially) lucrative enterprise to bomb Iran... which was the real reason Iain's mate Dick Cheney wanted her "outed". Or so the story goes.

wrinkled weasel said...

Dear Helen

Needless to say, I don't want to father children with you.

I have been following the Libby case very carefully.

You however, seem to live in Bush fairy land.

I suppose you also believe that the Walter Reed scandal is nonsense and that indeed there are WMD's and that Abu Graib and My Lai are all fictions dreamt up by commie global warming believin' faggots.

Please go and see someone urgently about your condition. Someone with experience of delusional cases.

(n.b. try not to post when you are about to have a period)

Marquee Mark said...


Interesting world you inhabit where obstructing an FBI inquiry and perjury (charges of which Libby was found guilty) are "nothing". Fancy a job in Downing Street? Or do you have one already?

Some of us here have been following US politics for decades. Since at least the time of Nixon. And Watergate. Was that "nothing" too?

Anonymous said...

Mr Weasel,
No matter how much you disagree with someone, there absolutely no need to be so nasty in your response (to Helen).

wrinkled weasel said...

I agree, anon 8.40, but I couldn't delete it. It was spiteful, but probably with a tongue in a cheek, which on this medium is difficult to convey.

I am sorry. I apologise. It was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I would have your bullshit detector set to the maximum when Luntz is around. Nothing against the guy personally, but clearly he is a snake-oil salesman. His spin is that he is able to turn round the fortunes of political parties and turn electoral lead into gold.

He may be able to do that, but it isn't magic, or guaranteed. He is credited with 'spotting' Cameron's potential when no one else had.

This is disingenuous. One only has to go over to PoliticalBetting.com to see people 'picking winners' on the radar any night of the week.
What Luntz was able to do was to get a focus group to be asked his questions and Shock ! Horror ! Probe! say that he was a better ballot box prospect than El Gordo.

Or rather get Newsnight to pay for a focus group....even better. When Cameron is pushed into leadership, the whole thing becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, and then it is no surprise when Dave Cameron jumps on the bandwagon.

Bingo ! Luntz gets another client signed up for a few years, another paragraph on the CV, and so goes on the Luntz 'myth', perpetuating the brand a while longer.

Nothing wrong with that - the guy has a living to make - but be wary of ascribing the ability to make mountains out of molehills to him.

Like Murdoch, he just knows that it is smart to back winners, as people are daft enough to think you had something to do with it. As if my backing a 20-1 shot at Cheltenham next week meant that I had been cleaning out the stables for the last 3 years..

Anonymous said...

Mr Weasel,
Fair enough. Yes, it is difficult to convey tongue-in-cheek, sarcasm or irony, and very easy to read things incorrectly.

John H said...

Hmm. Are these the same pundits who were predicting a couple of years ago that the Democrats would never win another presidential election? Or is this the pundits who were saying the Conservative Party was dead and buried and would never form another government? (I wish!) Or that wrote off Labour as irretrievable in the 1980s? (Remember those "Britain is a one-party democracy" stories back in April 1992?)

Much as I'd love to see the GOP in the dustbin of history, major political parties generally have deeper roots and stronger self-preservation instincts than that. The Republicans will be back (alas), probably sooner rather than later.

PJ said...

Americans with books to promote do talk rubbish, don't they? The Republican party isn't finished: it is within one seat of a majority in the US Senate; most of the justicies in the Supreme Court were appointed by Republicans, they have huge power at state level and they have a couple of credible candidates for the Presidency next time. Oh, well, it got him the publicity he no doubt needs.

Helen said...

Is Wrinkled Weasel for real? Wow! So much self-righteousness allied to so much stupidity. And still no word of Richard Armitage. Dear, dear, dear. No cure for it, I guess.

Peter said...

Is it not the case that all political parties go through a faze where they are in the dodrums. It just seems that they take far to long to bounce back and they wallow in self pity and recriminations. Maybe one day a politician will work out how to bypass this process and turn things around much quicker. Lets hope the Republicans can find such a politican for all our sakes!!!

Anonymous said...

Helen said...
Is Wrinkled Weasel for real? Wow! So much self-righteousness allied to so much stupidity. And still no word of Richard Armitage. Dear, dear, dear. No cure for it, I guess.

Wrinkled Weasel, I think you should withdraw your apology ot Helen and let her have it. her posting is nastier than yours.

forthurst said...

Iain, dont call it SLEEZE. Clearly Libby was the not the organ-grinder. This was a concerted effort by the White House to keep its march to war based upon lies on track by attacking Wilson through his wife Valerie Plame, thereby also destroying its own strategic resource, Brewster Jennings, so that it would not have to deal with those on their own side who actually knew about Iran's nuclear industry and might stymie their future war plans there. The current White House is the 'friend' of Israel but the enemy of the American people and the rest of the world. THis president deserves impeachment and the country needs it, for if a White House can get away with treason, where does that leave the Constitution?

Dave said...

Speaking of American Politics, Iain. Did Anne Coulter speak at the same conference you were at? The one where you were a bit worried but everyone seemed fine?
Looks like many bloggers aren't too happy with Anne's comments.
(caution some fairly fruit language, but people are angry)
Still, I guess Anne Coulter is another thing America has given us!

wrinkled weasel said...

I guess it's ok to be a flaky ultra right wing nutjob in the USA,as Anne Coulter certainly is, but start criticising the War in Iraq and you are going to get burned.

PJ said...

Does anybody know if the SIS ever retracted the claim that Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger?

Old Hack said...

Luntz should spend a bit of time driving through the States rather than flying over.

Blue states like NY and CA are not the best places to form opinions about the state of the Republican Party.

Granted howvever, the GOP may have a period of reconstruction ahead. Were the next President to be named Obama or Clinton, that task should be made easier.

There are a lot of talented and sensible people in the GOP who deserve their shot and what the GOP politicians may need after the sleaze in Congress and now Libby is new set of ethics, not a new Cameron style agenda of aping the Dems.

Theo Spark said...

Jed Babbin sums it up rather well here


As for the Dessicated Vermin, grow up!

Old Hack said...

One more thing Ian. Stylish and sexy though Vanity Fair may be, its not the best read if you are looking for an authorative perpective on the state of the GOP.

Almost like Tatler or Vogue about the Tories. Parties are better and dress sense is improving, but policies darling? Sorry sweetie don't do them.

Voyager said...

Did you hear Jed Babbin shred Jackie Hardgrave on World Tohight - Radio 4 ?

Try Listen Again about 16 mins in - he was superb and she was floundering her bias exposed

Ralph said...


When even John McCain is beating Hillary in the polls and is more or less in a tie with Obama how does your argument hold up?

Luntz is the Obama of pollsters, a lot of media noise but no real value.

Giovanni said...

The Republican Party was declared dead in the past. In 1932, when the Roosevelt election brought about 20 years of Democratic control of White House and Congress; in 1973, after Watergate; and now.
UNfortunately the G.O.P. has the inconsiderate habit of disproving its eulogists and obituary writers. I don't know how large an impact the Libby affair will have on a public opinion that is distracted by the next Presidential cycle.
Had the conviction taken place say in 2008 then it could have been crucial to the Dems retaking the White House. But in early 2007 it will make some headlines and be buried by springtime.

Yak40 said...

There was bad blood from previous encounters between Libby & Fitzgerald which might explain Fitz' zeal. After all, the "leaker" was known before his work started.
BTW Plame was not outed, she was not covert.
Her husband's Niger report was trashed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
To say a guy deserves decades in prison because of memory conflicts is a little over the top when the Clintons used to almost chant "I don't recall" in their grand juries.
Just another partisan witch hunt.

Anonymous said...

wrinkled weasel said...

"I guess it's ok to be a flaky ultra right wing nutjob in the USA,as Anne Coulter certainly is, but start criticising the War in Iraq and you are going to get burned."

I guess it’s ok to rely on ad hominem attacks and wild conjecture in place of a reasoned argument. Pitiful.

Observer said...

Plame was not outed, she was not covert.
Her husband's Niger report was trashed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

I thought everyone at the CIA had a desk in Langley and they published an internal telephone directory given free with the Washington Post.

After all Valerie recommended hubby to go find out about Niger and he hasd coffee with some folks.....but nowhere did he sign a confidentiality agreement as he would in private business.....but the CIA is a bit like a commercial radio station.....runs on advertising