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By David Podvin

For Democrats who are exasperated that their party is unwilling to go on the offensive, the following words are a welcome declaration of resolve:

“George W. Bush is the first president of my lifetime I don’t have an ounce of respect for. I’m going to bash him. My goal is to beat the bejesus out of him.”

With that bold and inspiring pronouncement, consultant Garry South confirmed that he will no longer be guiding the fortunes of California Governor Gray Davis, and that his new vocation is the political destruction of the trespasser in the White House.

South engineered Davis’ two victories for governor by doing something that is rare for a Democrat; he outslugged the right wing. In 1998, after skillfully maneuvering his candidate past two better-funded primary opponents, South pummeled GOP nominee Dan Lundgren with a blistering ad campaign that marginalized the Republican as an ideological fanatic. Davis won in a landslide. In 2002, South poured millions of dollars into the Republican primary and defeated the candidacy of moderate Richard Riordan, then forced conservative Bill Simon onto the defensive until Election Day. In each case, South was able to frustrate the opposition by establishing which issues would dominate the campaign. He also played a pivotal role in guiding the Democrats to overwhelming advantages in both houses of the legislature.

Davis was planning to run for the presidency in 2004, but he is one of many governors across America who must now deal with budget chaos due to Dubyanomics. As a result, South is a much sought after free agent who will start by raising money for the national party, and then doubtlessly become an integral part of the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of having a warrior on the Democratic team. In 1960, John F. Kennedy had his brother, Bobby, who was widely viewed as being “ruthless”. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson had Bill Moyers, who was called “that vicious bastard” by Republican victim Barry Goldwater. In 1976, Jimmy Carter had Hamilton Jordan, who was the object of complaints of rough play by Democratic primary opponents and the Ford campaign. In 1992, Bill Clinton had James Carville – enough said.

During the last election, Al Gore did not have a brawler, someone whose natural instinct was to go for the jugular. When the going got tough during the Florida recount, the Republicans pulled out all the stops while the Democrats were passive observers. The outcome was tragic for America.

Passivity will not be a problem with Garry South on the team. In many ways, South is the Democratic Karl Rove. Like Rove, South approaches politics as though it were pugilism. Like Rove, South is not averse to hitting below the belt. Like Rove, South understands that winning is everything.

There are two important differences between the men. First, Rove spends his life helping to elect fascists, whereas South has dedicated himself to defeating them. This is a crucial distinction when it comes to evaluating the propriety of their respective bruising tactics. There is an immense moral difference between falsely accusing Gore of being a psychotic and accurately accusing Lundgren of wanting to return to the days of back alley abortions. It is the difference between lying and telling the truth. The national Democratic Party has lacked someone who believes in telling the unpleasant truth about Republicans.

Not anymore.

The second clear dissimilarity between South and Rove is that South is extremely smart. For all the glory heaped on Rove by his acolytes in the corporate media, he is the political equivalent of the young George Foreman – he has been beating up on people who are afraid to fight back. Rove’s “cunning” strategy in 2000 featured wasting a huge monetary advantage and squandering a big lead in the polls. On the day before the election, he incompetently had his candidate taking a “victory lap” in California while the race was being decided in Florida. The mainstream media adores him, just as they worship his boss, but Rove is a “brilliant political thinker” in the same way that Bush is a “likeable man of integrity”.

While Rove has been conquering cowering Democrats, South has been confronting right wing Republicans whose nature is to fight dirty, and he has been beating them. He has tactically outmaneuvered conservatives by relentlessly challenging them to defend their indefensible positions. South has proven that, like all bullies, conservatives do not cope well with an opponent who is unafraid of them. He unflinchingly stands up to right wing attacks while counterpunching his foes into submission.

When Rove goes up against South, it will be the Rumble In The Jungle, with Foreman lying helpless on the canvas as Muhammad Ali walks away with the title.

The last couple of years have not been pleasant for Democrats, and this one looks like it could be pretty rough, too. However, the news that Garry South is roaming the national scene offers the promise of better days ahead. It now appears as though 2004 could turn out to be the year when the conservative movement finally takes a well-deserved brutal beating.

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Last changed: December 13, 2009