09/14/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Karl Rove's Slytherin Strategy For John McCain

You know who the Slytherins are, don't you?

For the two or three of you out there who honestly don't know anything about J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, let me briefly explain.

The school, located in a magically hidden castle in Scotland, is divided into four "houses," named for the school's four founders, and all first-year students are sorted into the houses their first day at Hogwart's, where they will remain their entire school career. Each house has its own traditions and character, and those selected are said to possess those same characteristics:

Gryffindor: known for their "daring, nerve, and chivalry" as well as bravery, is the home school of Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

Hufflepuff: known for being very hard workers and for being "just, loyal, patient, and true." (Harry's friend, Cedric Diggory, who competed with Harry in the Triwizard championship, was from Hufflepuff house. He was killed by Voldemort, the Dark Wizard, but more about that later.)

Ravenclaw: known for their intelligence and wisdom, the Ravenclaw's are "those of wit and learning, and a ready mind." Harry and Ron took Ravenclaw girls to their first big Hogwart's dance.

And then there's Slytherin: About the best that can be said for Slytherins is that they are "cunning" and "use any means to achieve their ends." Harry's biggest enemy at Hogwarts is Draco Malfoy, a snot-nosed Slytherin who makes Harry's life hell from his first day, and his Slytherin baboon buddies, Crabbe and Goyle.

The Slytherin founder had, several centuries before, broken away from the Hogwart's school because he wanted to admit only "purebloods" into the academy--meaning, those born to a proper witch and wizard. He would have hated Harry's dear friend Hermione, because she was "Muggle-born," meaning, her parents were neither witch nor wizard. Some students had one parent who was witch or wizard and one who was not, but any not completely pureblood were, over time, derisively referred to as "Mudbloods."

The powerful Dark Wizard Voldemort, who had attempted a takeover of the magical world and the Ministry of Magic (the government of the magical world) when Harry was a baby--(killing Harry's parents and causing the famous lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead)--had been aided in his evil by a dedicated cadre of enablers known as Death-eaters.

The Death-eaters worked in stealth, secrecy, and hiding. By day they went about their regular lives in the magical world, but by night, they stalked and killed people they considered Mudbloods, or people thought to be less than loyal to Voldemort. Nobody really knew who were Death-eaters and who were not, although there were uneasy suspicions. (Think of it as a magical Klu Klux Klan.)

But it was not until Harry's fourth year, when Cedric was killed in front of him, that he learned that Draco Malfoy's father, Lucius, was indeed a Death-eater. Lucius was rich, attractive, charming, and highly influential at the Ministry of Magic. He was greatly respected in the magical world, which was one reason Draco was so full of himself.

Now, you're all caught up. So, let's do some movie-casting of our own, shall we?

Voldemort, played by Karl Rove
Lucius Malfoy, played by John McCain
Slytherin house, played by conservative Republican operatives, and the RNC

Are you with me now?

Voldemort/Rove has held great power in the past and wants to hold it again. But in this version of the story, he puts forth Malfoy/McCain as his shining foil. And he enlists the aid of the Death-eaters/Republican strategists of the Slytherin house, to make it all happen.

Their target is Harry Potter/Barack Obama.

In the actual Harry Potter story, Harry is a bright young shining star, a real celebrity in the magical world, because he, and he alone, stopped Voldemort more than once, and survived a direct attempt on his life made by the Dark Wizard himself. Up until the Triwizard Tournament and the death of Cedric Diggory, Harry had been a hero to Hogwart's and to the magical community as a whole.

But when Harry comes back from his encounter with Voldemort, holding Cedric's lifeless body in his arms, he tells the shocking story that Voldemort has returned in full power and wants to take over the magical world again.

But nobody wants to believe him. They are all afraid of Voldemort and want to believe that he is dead, so the Ministry of Magic takes an official position that Harry is not to be believed.

They start by attacking Harry's credibility in the magical-world newspaper, the Daily Prophet.

And they do this by MOCKING Harry. Every week, throughout the summer break before Harry's return to Hogwart's for his fifth year, the newspaper runs one story or another that mocks Harry as an attention-seeker, a show-off, a celebrity-hound who only wants to be famous. He is accused of making up the return of Voldemort in a sensationalistic bid for attention, and poor Cedric's death is explained instead as a "terrible accident."

By the time Harry gets back to school that year, even some of his closest friends from Gryffindor doubt his story, and none more than Draco Malfoy, delight in making fun of him and pretending that he is, after all, just another boy, that there is nothing whatsoever that is special about Harry Potter after all.

By now you probably wonder what the hell any of this has to do with the 2008 presidential election, unless, of course, you have a magical mind.

Because there is a great deal of similarity in Rove's tactics.

John McCain's biggest problem right now is within his own party. The conservative "base" that so famously delivered the White House to Rove and Bush/Cheney twice before, is lukewarm toward McCain. Many of them openly despise him. Voting blocks that have always been solidly reliable for Voldemo--I mean, Karl Rove--such as Christian evangelicals, the military and veterans, and the working class--are fragmenting and fading away.

Before, Rove could engineer huge voting turn-out in those blocks by placing on the ballots wedge issues in their states, such as gay marriage, anti-abortion legislation, color-coded terror frights designed to make his man Bush look strong on national security, and so on. He could whip those bases up into a frenzy of support for his candidate by turning them out at the polls to vote on those issues, and by sleight-of-hand magic designed to make Bush seem as if he really gave a flying damn about any of that.

But Bush and his enabling cronies have done such a catastrophically bad job ("Heckuva job, Bushie," said my moderate Republican husband, who is voting Obama)--that even the party faithful are no longer so loyal. Demographics are changing.

When you can't find a job because you can't afford the gas to drive around looking for one further away than a few miles and you might lose your home; when you have to choose between medication and food; when your loved one is being deployed for a third time to an endless and pointless war while John McCain votes against benefits for the troops and veterans--there's only so much magical myth and illusion that can be drummed up to convince people that this is what they want four or eight more years of.

So Voldemort/Rove has designed a Slytherin Strategy to make Malfoy/McCain the Minister of Magic/President.

And Voldemort doesn't just want to beat Harry Potter, you know. He wants to DESTROY Harry.

Karl Rove regards any political opponent as an enemy to be destroyed.

So instead of coming up with two or three hot-button wedge issues, he's going for spell-casting of a more subtle kind. And here is how he's doing it:

Target: Christian evangelicals:

Run ads that are, on the surface, "fun" pieces designed to make fun of Obama's celebrity.
Calling Obama "the One," and interspersing his image with that of Charlton Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea, followed by soft yellow light glowing against a stairway to Heaven while, in the background, a foreign crowd of thousands is chanting his name, is a deliberate attempt to cast Obama as the anti-Christ.

I knew it the first time I saw the ad. I said so to family and friends. Most of them looked at me like I was more than a little nuts and at least as paranoid as some right-wingers, but go visit now and see if you can't find mugs and T-shirts depicting Obama as the anti-Christ.

Not all evangelicals will be convinced, of course. Being a Christian evangelical does not automatically make you stupid. But Voldemort/Rove isn't trying to convince them all, all of the time. He's just trying to raise enough reasonable doubt in enough minds that when they get into the voting booth, they'll lean toward the candidate that they REALLY don't trust:


Target: the Bigot Vote

Ask any person of color what the status of bigotry is today, and most likely they will tell you that it has gone largely underground. For example, legally, you can't be refused a job or an apartment because of the color of your skin. That would be against the law. But a prejudiced prospective landlord or employer can reject your application for all sorts of reasons that will cover their ass but keep you away.

Bigots have code-words, too. Ever since they started getting into trouble for saying the "n" word, they found another word just as good, the "M" word.

I asked my sister, who I like to call a recovering right-winger, and who is a strong supporter of Barack Obama (it was my sister who first gave me a copy of THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, for a Christmas gift, two whole years ago)--to explain what the hell is going on with this obsession to turn Obama into a closet Muslim terrorist.

Here is what she said in an e-mail reply, reprinted here with her permission:

"Those of us who walked door to door and campaigned not once but twice for the current regime are so devastated we are making up lies to make even some resemblance of what we did RIGHT.

"ALL of the B.S. about Obama being Arab-American is a HUGE smokescreen for 'we don't want no n--r in the White House,' period. In a world of political correctness we must sell the factoids and justify our outrageous allegations by blaming the 'public enemy #1: the terrorist'...when indeed the true enemy sits high on the hill living off our tax debt for eternity.

"His (Bush's) power is so great he has convinced us that the media is to blame for everything wrong with America...when in reality the rich get so f-king rich they don't need 'government' anymore...Alas, (with) Halliburton and Exxon/Mobil--we set ourselves up for this.

"Obama shines a light on the fact that we must look into the reasons behind the decisions, but oh hell no, this won't do. We must feed the American public media blitzes to deny his right to express his American opinion 'cause he ain't no 'merican.'

"Truly if the Republicans let anybody pay attention to his speeches, they would see how just and right he is. We can't have that. We have no way to disprove the facts he knows to be true. So we will call on our Rednecks and alert the white collar mullet population of the south to 'stick to the war hero kind of man,' not elect one of the 'brothers.' We all know you can't call him that, so we did the next choice in line: Arab, or Muslim...God knows we can't trust them people.

"I get about 10 e-mails a day defaming Obama, everything from the anti-Christ to so much percentage of his blood being Arab, to 'white wanna-be.' They are effectively reaching a huge population of under-informed people. And there are a lot of people who honestly feel that they can't be patriotic and hate Bush.

"I can only hope that the true Americans will see the 'light' of Obama and vote him in. God bless us if we don't!"

I was surprised at my sister's anger at her old co-horts. In many ways she is still conservative, which I completely respect. But her honesty revealed something I hadn't realized about the Slytherin Strategy: That since the bigots of the world are now denied the "n" word, it's okay to use the "M" word.

But Malfoy/McCain and Voldemort/Rove are too sneaky to come right out and accuse Harry/Obama of being a Muslim. Instead, they wave their wands over him with an "otherness," spell--of not putting his country first, of being "foreign," and so on. But it all boils down to the "n" word, and the bigots of the world get it.

After all, they all know what Mudbloods are.

This gets a few more apathetic voters to the polls. Maybe not to vote FOR McCain, but rather AGAINST Obama.

More Messages for the Bigots:

*The black man is "uppity." He was being "presumptuous" by visiting with foreign dignitaries who invited him on his European and warzone tour. He was "too presidential."

When Malfoy/McCain, however, called up the president of Georgia and said, "We are all Georgians," and his campaign staff landed his plane early and raced to place him at the podium on the tarmac making a statement to the world about Russian aggression before even the president of the United States had yet spoken publicly, and now McCain promises to send his own little personal envoy to Georgia...well, there was nothing "presumptuous" about that!

After all, we all know white men can't be uppity.

*The black man is going to seduce your white daughters and make off with your white women, and if he gains power, he will bring other black men into positions of power who will do the same thing.

This was the clear message of the "Hot Chicks Dig Obama" ads. All four of the women who made comments on-camera about how sexy they found Barack Obama, were white.
And in the first ad accusing Obama of being a celebrity--he was not compared to, say, Will Smith, another famous African-American. Will Smith is, after all, popular all over the world and respected for his work ethic and his high-quality movies, and his personable, approachable personality. But it wasn't Will Smith's face superimposed on the ads. It was empty-headed white women celebrities known more for their sexual exploits and irresponsibility than for their talent and hard work.

Voldemort's Evil Spells:

The Dark Wizard, whose familiar is a giant, evil snake, often ensures loyalty of followers by casting spells on them that cloud their minds and cause them to do things they would normally never do.

The only wizard in the entire magical world powerful enough to deflect Voldemort's spells was Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was Harry's mentor and protector, shepherding Harry through his training until Harry was ready to defeat Voldemort.

(For our purposes, we'll make Dumbledore a composite character, made up of many Democratic strategists, congresspeople and senators, statesmen and women, retired military officers, and so on, who have aided and advised our own hero, Barack Obama, from the beginning of his meteoric career.)

In Rove's favorite method of spell-casting, every single ad run by the McCain campaign that lists statistics and claims about Obama, are flat-out lies. They are usually immediately debunked by major newspapers--the next day.

But many people do not read major newspapers. They get their news in soundbites--either from ads like those, or from glances at the broadcast news while preparing dinner or online during their lunch hours.

And Voldemort/Rove knows that, if an ad is released just in time for a news cycle, (even on just the Internet), that it will be replayed endlessly on news broadcasts before journalists have checked out the truth of the facts, then repeated so often on morning news programs, that by the time the truth does come out, the lie has already saturated the consciousness of the viewer.

The spell has been cast. By then, the viewers already believe the lie.

A whopping 12% of Republicans and Democrats stubbornly persist in believing Barack Obama is a Muslim, and even when told to their faces that he is a practicing Christian, they say, "I just don't believe it."

The Slytherin Strategy

In the Harry Potter saga, Voldemort did not make a full comeback right away, because in the beginning, he was very weak. He gained power over time by casting spells, reinvigorating the Death-eaters, and by helping to turn the hero Harry Potter into a figure of ridicule and--eventually--a threat to the community.

But Harry Potter won in the end, and Voldemort was not only defeated, but destroyed, the Death-eaters scattered, killed, or ruined.

How did he do it? How did Harry Potter vanquish the evil genius Voldemort?

Dumbledore's Army

By Potter's fifth year at Hogwart's, the Ministry of Magic had decided that, since their official position was that Voldemort was merely a figment of Harry's overblown imagination and not really returned at all, (a position backed up and emphasized by Lucius Malfoy and other Death-eaters who ran the government, and aided and abetted by the magical media), then Dumbledore was forced out as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and the students were told that they would no longer need to learn Defense Against the Dark Arts.

In other words, they didn't need to know spells and charms of their own for self-defense in the fight against Voldemort and the Death-eaters, because such a threat supposedly no longer existed. This was just what Voldemort wanted: lambs to the slaughter.

Harry, of course, and his pals Hermione and Ron, knew better. And so, it turns out, did many of Harry's old friends--especially from Gryffindor house, and those who had known and loved Cedric Diggory, and so on.

So Harry's friends came to him and said that, since he was the only person in the entire magical world who had fought Voldemort and escaped death from him and his Death-eaters--not once, but several times--then even though he was still young, still a student, and still an object of ridicule in public--nonetheless, THEY trusted him.

And they wanted Harry to lead them.

So, in secret, a couple of dozen of Harry's supporters began to meet, so that he could train them in ways to resist Voldemort and the Death-eaters--not just resist, but survive, thrive, and overcome.

The students called themselves, "Dumbledore's Army."

You, me, Voldemort, Malfoy, and Dumbledore's Army

Lately I've been reading a great deal of huffing and puffing from commentators and bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum, complaining that Obama just has not been fighting back hard enough against Voldem--Rove's attacks.

And Lord knows, Malfoy/McCain has been preening around--lots of flags, lots of "presidential" settings, lots of bustling about with the Georgian president.

But Obama's strategists retort that, most of those political armchair quarterbacks are not privy to the campaign's true strategy, their timing, or their plans to take on the Death-eaters. In effect, they are saying--as Dumbledore did many times to an anxious Harry--be patient. Timing is everything.

(One of the joys of rereading the Potter books, is knowing now, what Dumbledore knew, and seeing with fresh understanding WHY he waited to tell Harry all that Harry needed to know to eventually defeat the Dark Wizard.)

But Dumbledore died in Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, and did not live to bring Harry through his most excruciating challenge against Voldemort.

In the end, it was up to Harry. But Harry didn't do it alone.

When the great war finally broke out, in Harry's final year at Hogwart's--call it the full-on, post-convention fall presidential campaign--all of Dumbledore's Army, all the volunteer students who had trained with Harry and supported him and learned from him--turned out to fight the Death-eaters, using the defensive skills Harry had taught them.

And in the great climactic battle scene, it was kids and adults, students and professors, parents and warriors--who all turned out to fight alongside Harry. They took the tools Harry had given them in their training, and they vanquished evil.

Barack Obama started out as a community organizer. One of the most brilliant strategies of his campaign, from the primaries to now--has been to organize communities of supporters ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, from the bottom up, in a true grassroots movement the Democratic party has not seen in a very long time, if ever.

With a click of the mouse, you can undergo training. You can learn valuable skills for one-on-one campaigning, and when the time comes this fall, you can receive a list of registered voters and phone numbers FROM YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD that you can call.

And in this small town--I never leave the house without wearing my Obama buttons, or T-shirt, with my Obama sign clearly displayed in my car window. In this conservative Red State area, that provokes questions and conversations wherever I go. So far, in fact, mine are the only ones I've seen, but to my surprise, in talking to people, I have uncovered far more quiet support than you might suspect. I always remind them to vote.

This is the genius of the Obama campaign. For now, you can go to and get together a list of Obama supporters in your area and sponsor all kinds of events like house parties and canvassing drives.

Right now it's up to Dumbledore's Army--meaning, Obama's supporters and volunteers--to speak out to their neighbors, their friends, their relatives, and their e-mail list--ambassadors for Obama, laying to rest the lies put out by an unscrupulous campaign, and easing those nagging little doubts.

In the magical world, you use a charm to deflect an evil spell--so use charm with people! Smile when you talk about Obama. Call it our own little Defense Against the Dark Arts.

In my own case, I have right-wing friends on my e-mail list. If I think they are genuinely interested in hearing about Obama and are considering maybe voting for him, I answer all their questions. But if it is clear that they are Death-eaters and not the least bit interested in doing anything but arguing and arguing and arguing, then I tell them that, we agree to disagree, but I'm not going to waste my time arguing with someone who won't listen. We're still friends, but we don't discuss politics any more.

However, those I know who are undecided, who are disgruntled Republicans or Hillary supporters wavering about McCain, or anyone who I think is genuinely interested, then I provide links to sources that set the record straight, and answer all their questions in a respectful manner.

Right now, I constantly remind my young friends in their 20's to make sure they are registered to vote, and I provide links or offer information explaining how. When the time comes, I'll text them and remind them to vote.

For elderly or shut-in friends, I'm available to take them to the polls. I even have elderly friends who do not have Internet access, so what I do is, I print up copies of my blogs and snail-mail them to them.

As what you might call an Obama's Army warrior, my job is to persuade, not to provoke.

This is how we fight the Voldemorts of the world. Instead of spending all our time attacking our own Harry Potter, (or arguing bitterly because we REALLY wanted the brilliant Hermione Granger in Harry's job)...we need to join together WITH him, and expend that same energy speaking out for him, training with him, volunteering, and fighting for him.

Because in the end, although Dumbledore's Army stood with Harry all the way--It was Harry, and Harry alone who had to face down the Dark Wizard Voldemort and slay him.

It will be Obama who must fight McCain. It will be Obama debating him, Obama inspiring his own army, and Obama's own personal Dumbledores devising battle strategy.

There does come a point when, in the final analysis, the rest of us have to trust him.

(Not everybody agreed with everything Harry did, either. He spent as much time arguing with Hermione and Ron as he did confronting Death-eaters.)

But when that time comes, it's up to us to fight for him and for the things that, as Democrats, we hold dear, that have been so deeply threatened by this miserable past eight years and is held in the balance right now.

We can't afford another eight years of Voldemort running this country.

Because the only way evil--the evil of bigotry, prejudice, warmongering, lies masquerading as smiling charm, fear-peddling, environmental heedlessness, and the like--can be defeated is when we join together to fight it.