Friday, November 05, 2010

We're the Rob Ford campaign team and we're super-awesome geniuses

A number of rather interesting stories have been percolating out of the Rob Ford campaign team since they successfully steamrolled their man into the Toronto Mayor's office a few weeks ago. They're to do with the strategies and tactics that helped turn a right-wing councilor who few gave a chance to win in Canada's most liberal city into a political end the gravy train movement.

I'm certainly very interested in their strategy around messaging and communications. Their message discipline and definition of narrative was admirable, and as a political communications junkie I think there are lessons to be learned from the Ford campaign.

But some of the revelations and tactics that his campaign team are putting out there and freely discussing? Well, they'd be better left undisclosed.

We've already had lots of coverage of the fake Smitherman-supporter Twitter account that the Ford campaign created to (successfully) obtain an audio recording that was potentially damaging to Ford, as well as try to subtly influence the online discussion:
Rob Ford's campaign team created a fake Twitter account and wrote more than 150 messages under the guise of being a George Smitherman supporter during the Toronto mayoral campaign.

The news came to light this week in and extensive profile by The Globe and Mail that a deputy communications director set up the fake account to flush out a potentially damaging audio tape.

Fraser Macdonald, 24, created a fake profile for a fictional woman named Karen Philby.

Through the account, the user appealed to a man who had an audio tape of Rob Ford seemingly promising to buy him OxyContin off the street, in order to do damage control.

But Philby's profile remained active, smearing mayoral candidates throughout the campaign, including Smitherman and Ford, all while posing as a Smitherman supporter.
For the full details on the Twitter initiative, read the features from the Globe and from Macleans, and Torontoist has the full stream.

And today we have another revelation from the Ford dirty tricks team:
The Rob Ford campaign had one of its members anonymously call John Tory’s radio show and berate him about his integrity as part of a successful strategy to keep Tory out of Toronto’s mayoral race.

Nick Kouvalis, Ford’s deputy campaign manager and now the mayor-elect’s chief of staff, told a forum Friday morning that his success in preventing Tory from reconsidering his decision not to run “was a huge victory for Rob, so he took John out and Rob won because of it.”
Now, I'm not going to pretend for a moment that these were unique situations. Sneaky, underhanded, even morally unquestionable tactics are hardly unheard of in the annals of political campaigning. So these revelations aren't unique in that regard.

No, what's unique is that they're talking about them. Nay, boasting about them. These stories aren't being leaked, or unearthed by investigative journalists. Senior members of the Ford campaign team members are openly boasting of their dirty tricks successes.

Such stories aren't unique. But boasting about them certainly is. It's rather astounding, frankly, to see these backroom boys out there boasting about their awesomeness. I'm sure it feels great for them to feed their egos and see stories about their awesomeness, but that's just not how this business is supposed to work. They call it the backroom for a reason.

And they're doing their candidate, the soon to be mayor, a disservice. Ford's job now, and it's going to be a big one, is to try to bring the city and a divided council together to get support to pass his agenda, and address the not insignificant issues facing the City of Toronto. He needs to grow the tent. These sorts of stories don't help. John Tory is reportedly interested in taking a role at city hall to help Ford. I wonder how he'll react to these revelations?

These guys have forgotten that it's not about the staffers. It's about the candidate. People don't want to see how the sausage is made. And, frankly, no one cares about process stories anyway. There's only downside here.

The truly awesome don't need to brag about their awesomeness. They let the results speak for themselves.

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Rev.Paperboy said...

Like all asshole-conservatives ( I don'think all conservatives are assholes, I just think it is a legitimate subset, like fiscal conservatives or social conservatives) these proudly ignorant bully-boy frat types can't do anything that is remotely successful without high-fiving, belly-bumping and chugging jaegermeister shots.
People tire very, very quickly of smug, smirking bullies. Especially ones who endless slap each other on the back and boast about how they "fixed those damn hippies/socialists/homo/(insert offensive characterization of marginalized social, economic or ethnic group here) and good, blarharharharhar!"

We've all seen it. From the barely literate fag-bashing jocks who peaked in high school to the failed-jock hockey dads who scream obscenities at minor hockey referees and urge their kids to play dirty to the salesmen who idolize Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glennross to the person on every reality show who at some point declares "I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win!" It's the same mentality that led to the outing of Valerie Plame, the outrages of Abu Ghraib and the smearing of Sean Bruyea. It's the attitude that "the rules are for other people," that only winning matters, that silver medals are for losers, that "third prize is you're fired"
It is an attitude of entitlement - nevermind that most of them were born on second base and think they hit a triple - they think that because they have success, they must have earned it and that they deserve it - and that those who haven't achieved what they consider success (and usually that means money) don't deserve it and are somehow morally weak/lazy/evil/gay/drug addicts/eggheads/commies/beatniks/etc etc, "losers" who deserve only scorn. And empathy is for losers.
They are terrified of being one of "those people" and the easiest way to make sure that no one will ever think they are, is to attack "those people." That fear of being branded one of the Loser class will make them do almost anything to achieve whatever they consider success. It is that need for validation that makes them incapable of doing anything without breaking an arm patting themselves on the back that will eventually sink them. They can't resist the temptation to dance in the endzone, to rub someone's nose in their defeat, to shit downhill just because they can. That is what eventually does such people in. Other people - sane people - get tired of the bragging and chest pounding. You can only pour shit downhill for so long before you find yourself standing on a pile of shit. And people who like to brag about how dirty they played and how low they stooped will eventually find that the only people impressed are other shitheels and grifters - and ambitious prosecutors who are waiting for an admission of something legally actionable.
Time and Karma will not be kind to Rob Ford and his campaign team and hubris will eventually prove their undoing.

Anonymous said...

so the question is, why aren't we finding these things out from investigative journalists? if they are telling us about this, there might be lots worse things they aren't telling us about.

Mtn Goat said...

These "folks" aren't interested in "expanding the tent". All they want to do is create divisions and vitriol. It's the kind of politics that seems to be the norm in the USA and the practice seems to be increasing here as well.