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The Invasion of the Spin Doctors

25 May 2006

Did anyone else notice that the “some” in Ginger Thompson’s article in today’s New York Times (Some in Mexico See Border Wall as Opportunity) who speak well of “THE WALL” were all Fox administration officials, former officals or regular apologists for the administration?

Ms. Thompson is an excellent reporter, but I’m wondering if she wasn’t fed this story by the spin doctors, something new in Mexican politics, according to this article (“Presidential race takes on U.S. flavor”) in today’s Mexico Herald.

Conservative Felipe Calderón opened his campaign for president with slogans focusing on honesty (“Clean Hands”) and patriotism (“Passion for Mexico”), but the nice-guy image wasn’t working.

So the Harvard-educated lawyer embraced a U.S. style of political attacks against his top rival. He even spoke — informally, his campaign insists — with U.S. consultants such as Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris and Dallas’ Rob Allyn, a Republican strategist. Whether the consultants had anything to do with the change in tactics, no one will say, given Mexico’s extreme sensitivity to any appearance of outside influence in elections.

But some critics are blaming the gringos for Mexico’s plunge into the mud. …

“Negative ads are a new phenomenon in Mexican democracy, and Felipe Calderón has been, so far in this election, the one that has resorted” to using them the most, said Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the Mexico Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research organization. “There are fingerprints of U.S. political electoral strategists all over it because it’s not something that has traditionally been used in Mexican elections.”

Calderón began his turnaround with a TV ad whose impact some analysts compared to the “swift boat” commercials that bedeviled U.S. presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004.

It equated Andrés Manuel López Obrador, then the front-runner, with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in terms of “intolerance” and zeroed in on López Obrador repeating the phrase, “Shut up, Mr. President. … Shut up, you country hen.” He was referring to President Vicente Fox. Ads that followed called López Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, “a danger to Mexico.”´ Whether Morris or Allyn was involved with the decision to go negative is unclear, but critics agree the inspiration is American.

“Calderón’s negative campaign has all the writing of Morris, who’s an expert on destroying the vote of hope by raising the vote of fear,” said pollster Daniel Lund, … who has worked for López Obrador. “U.S. political consultants at their best produce mischief. They may know how to manipulate media, but do they contribute to the good governance of a country, to the democratic maturity of a nation? I would argue no.”

According to Sourcewatch (Center for Media) and a 6 April 2000 article in the Dallas Observer, Rob Allyn was a key player in the George W. Bush campaign to discredit his rival for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination Senator John McCain. Millionaire Bush supporter Sam Wyly funded Republicans for Clean Air to attack McCain in key states during the 2000 primary campaign. Rob Allyn was paid $46,000 to help create the ads. Sourcewatch also claims ties to the “Swiftboat” campaign used in the 2004 Presidential election to discredit Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Dick Morris (Sourcewatch) is “a former apolitical/amoral pollster turned Republican operative”. There is much more on Morris’ U.S. campaign spinning at Media Matters.

Al Giordano in Narco News, goes further. I only claim these two are scumbags, but I don’t go in for the salacious details of their personal lives and I won’t even attempt to tie the two foreign spin doctors to the recent Atenco riots, which led to accusations in the Mexican courts of rape and sexual assault against the police. Still, he makes a good point:

Dick Morris and Rob Allyn….advise President Vicente Fox and his favored presidential candidate, Felipe Calderón, of Fox’s National Action Party (PAN, in its Spanish initials) on how to manipulate the mass media and in the art of “crisis management.”…

Allyn — a Republican Party consultant from Texas who has advised both George W. Bush and his father George Herbert Walker Bush, as well as a Texan energy billionaire with obvious interest in seeing Mexico’s electricity and oil privatized — is joined in Mexico today by U.S. political consultant Dick Morris.

Morris was the top political advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton until August of 1996, when Morris … had to leave the Clinton campaign in disgrace.

Morris recently penned a column in the New York Post in which he admitted, “I have worked as a consultant for Fox and PAN.”

… Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution prohibits participation by foreigners in Mexican electoral campaigns. It says:

“Foreigners may not involve themselves in any way in the political affairs of the country.”

We report… you decide.

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