Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

James Moore Headshot

A Texas Turncoat Casts His Lustful Eyes Toward Obama

Posted: Updated:

Mark McKinnon is once more practicing his dark craft of surfing the political zeitgeist to land on the shores of fame and prosperity. Perhaps the most opportunistic political consultant in the modern era, McKinnon makes Karl Rove appear to be a principled man. He has gone from progressive Democrat to Bush confidante to McCain advisor and now has his nose pressed to the glass looking in on the Obama campaign.

And nobody does it better.

McKinnon, who attempts to affect the sartorial profile of a French boulevardier as he travels on campaign jets, has the chameleon qualities necessary for political success. Lately, McKinnon has been looking with longing emotions at the Obama campaign and wishing he could play in his old sand box. The signals he is sending that he wants to come home to the Democrats are hardly subtle.

In the early '80s, Mark McKinnon was a progressive Democrat who believed that a government existed to create a fair climate of opportunity for all citizens. I had my share of campaign plane conversations with the novelist manqué and failed Nashville cat and they were always about the little guy getting a break. I thought we thought alike. I thought wrong.

McKinnon went to work for Democratic Texas Governor Mark White and in one of the more ironic moments of his career was the spokesperson who denounced Karl Rove when "Bush's Brain" claimed that White's campaign had bugged Rove's office. Rove, of course, the evidence shows, planted a microphone in his own office in order to detract from his client's failing gubernatorial campaign. Rove was the kind of guy who made McKinnon's skin crawl in those days but he became the kind of guy who made McKinnon's ambitions soar when he hooked up with W.

It took a while, though. McKinnon kept his Democratic and progressive leanings into the years that Ann Richards was the governor of Texas. When she took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention in 1988 and captivated the nation with her anti-Bush rhetoric, the talk of her presidential prospects left McKinnon drooling over his own chance of going to the big show. George W. Bush, however, put an end to Ann's ascension.

But not Mark McKinnon's.

As talk continued circulating about Governor Bush and the White House, McKinnon famously told a reporter about seeing Bush at a party and having that feeling that a man has "when he's at a party with his wife and sees a beautiful woman across the room." The description, which is akin to Rove's first impression of Bush in cowboy boots and blue jeans and more charisma "than any one person should be allowed to have," suggests there is something more latent than political principles in both advisors' fascination with the president.

McKinnon and Bush hooked up and the former Democrat rationalized it away by saying he was "a Bush guy" and not really a Republican. As the candidate's, and then the president's media advisor, McKinnon made the ads that trashed John McCain in South Carolina and beyond in 2000. Of course, that didn't preclude him from becoming the media advisor and TV producer for John McCain's 2008 presidential run. Ambition always trumps politics and principle for McKinnon.

And that's why he has presently cast his covetous eyes in the direction of Barack Obama.

McKinnon was already working for McCain in 2007 when he realized Obama was the kind of candidate he'd dreamed of working for back before he'd abandoned his beliefs for Bush money. McKinnon told McCain that if Obama were to win the Democratic nomination he would have to resign team McCain because the Illinois' senator's effort had the chance to change the country. McCain, who's made a few compromises of his own principles since hugging Bush and reconciling with Rove, said nothing.

The same pledge was made by McKinnon earlier this week on ABC News. If Obama wins, McKinnon quits McCain's campaign. Regardless of how much of an open insult this is to the Republican candidate who is paying McKinnon for his services, it is also revelatory concerning both McCain and McKinnon. The senator seems willing to put up with anything if it gets him closer to his political dream. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson stop being "agents of intolerance" and turn into the base needed for election and Mark McKinnon is not a traitor to the man he is supposedly trying to help win the election.

As for McKinnon, it just means he's still good at jumping from losing horse to the winner. Voters ought to heed this charlatan's words. McKinnon isn't the least bit concerned about harming Obama with attack ads; he knows that McCain cannot beat the Illinois Democrat and he hopes that if he quits McCain that Obama's people will hire him and he will be a Democrat again and back on a front-running horse.

Obama does show the potential to change the country, Mark. But ask yourself what he will be changing it from. He'll be changing it into something that doesn't even begin to resemble the tragedy President Bush and you have facilitated.

Just stay the hell out of the way.