Hack Watch (October Surprise Edition)

Shorter David Frum:

Bush Isn’t Planning An ‘October Surprise’:

If the Democrats truly think that total sweetheart, Karl Rove, is planning an ‘October Surprise’, then they are both paranoid and hypocritical.

Then, an ‘I told you so’:

Dems are tormented by worry over the surprises that the fathomlessly brilliant but horrifically evil Dr. Rove has planned to deploy against poor innocent little them. Here’s my weekend column on why they are deceiving themselves. But then again – this column appeared before ABC News broke the Mark Foley scandal, after having held it two months … or just long enough to ensure that Foley’s name could not be replaced on the ballot. Maybe Democrats are not deceiving themselves, but rather everybody else.

[gagging sound] Haaack [gagging sound]. But let’s back up a bit. In the AEI/National Post piece, Frum argues that the Dems have it all wrong in thinking Bush and Rove are going to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran before the election. No they won’t, Frum argues with a sigh directed at the folly of not only the Democrats, but of the suddenly-appeasementy administration: they are very likely to cut a deal with Iran.

David Frum: Spreading the ‘Lion’s Share’ of bullshit again.

For Republicans and conservatives, there is an amazing audacity about these Democratic suspicions. The fact is that the most successful October surprise in any recent U.S. national election was carried off by Democrats, not Republicans.

He then mentions the release of Bush’s arrest record (the DWI thing) in 2000 and the CBS story about Bush’s military records in 2004 (which were, you’ll remember, fake but true). Then he concludes with this fellating testament to Rove’s rectitude:

In actual fact, Rove has run his campaigns for George W. Bush on the most simple and obvious principles… And so he runs campaigns that rely not on clever gimmicks but on strong, clear conservative messages. The only surprise about a Rove campaign is how few surprises they contain.

Democrats should know this strategy. After all, they have been on its receiving end for three elections in a row: 2000, 2002 and 2004. And yet they persist in believing that next time Rove will junk the methods of a lifetime and resort to sneaky maneuvers and complicated stratagems. That so many Democrats have come to believe that dirty tricks win elections tells us very little about elections. But it reveals something important–and ugly–about those Democrats themselves.

What Frum doesn’t mention, of course, is that the supposedly unfair release of Bush’s DWI record was much, much more than undone by Bush theft of Florida’s electoral votes. Nor is there mention of the words “Diebold” and “Ohio” concerning 2004. The point is, why would Rove need to do an ‘October Surprise’ when he can just have (and has had) the election(s) stolen on Election Day? That, as well his and his party’s tendency to be pre-emptive.

But then Rove is of the Better Safe Than Sorry school of ruthless electioneering, as fitting for a Republican operative. Also, I think that teddybear Rove, like teddybears Lee Atwater and Donald Segretti before him, likes the dirty trick for its own sweet sake. He likes the ‘October Surprise’ all right, along with all the other stuff.

(Admittedly, ‘October Surprises’ need not be sprung in October; rather, the phrase has come to mean any suspiciously convenient bit of news/scandal/dirtytrick released or performed by a rival party at a crucial time to influence an election.)

Consider this:

Now it comes out that the Bush administration routinely overruled its own house paranoiac to unilaterally declare orange and red alerts. The White House, of course, doesn’t have its own intelligence apparatus. In making a dissenting assessment of intelligence, its judgments were entirely political.

We already knew that the timing of these alerts was extremely suspicious. The public has forgotten already, but it’s worth recalling now that just four days before Christmas in 2003, at a time when the country was still somewhat divided over whether or not to go to war in Iraq, the DHS announced a code orange alert. Just as the population was settling in for the holidays, Donald Rumsfeld made an unequivocal announcement:

“Indications [are] that [the] near-term attacks,” he said, “will either rival or exceed the [9/11] attacks.”

Then there was the code red in New York on July 29, 2004—the same day that John Kerry made his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. We were told, among other things, that al-Qaeda was planning on blowing up the Citibank building. News leaked out later that this intelligence was at least three years old.

At the time, everyone blamed Tom Ridge for this. It was Ridge, after all, who said of the Citibank threat: “The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen.”

Now it comes out that it wasn’t Ridge at all, but the White House, acting on its own initiative. Considering the timing of the alerts—before elections in 2003, in a period when the administration was garnering support for the Iraq invasion, and before the 2004 election—the idea that the White House just pulled these stunts willy-nilly is criminal. Watergate started as a bunch of cheap frat pranks to knock Ed Muskie out of the race. This would be terrorizing 270 million people to go to war and win an election, if that’s what they did. What does it look like?

And this:

Five days before the 2004 presidential election, Osama bin Laden released a video to Al Jazeera; it was his first on camera appearance in nearly three years. It was obvious at the time who benefited politically from this “October surprise.” The tape helped George W. Bush and hurt his challenger, John Kerry. Given the timing and subject matter of the tape, it was clear that Bin Laden was attempting to influence the U.S. election, and, almost surely, knew that the tape would benefit President Bush.

See also here. Further evidence that bin Laden would have prefered a Bush victory in 2004 has come very recently and explosively in this story.

Then there’s this, another recent revelation:

Bush, Woodward writes, “thanked Bandar for what the Saudis were doing on oil — essentially flooding the market and trying to keep the price as low as possible. [Bush] expressed appreciation for the policy and the impact it could have during the election year.”

In the NR link, Frum updates to approvingly quote an email from a wingnut admirer:

If you had more space, you could go even further back. There was LBJ’s announcement of a bombing halt in North Vietnam days before the 1968 election that helped boost HHH within an eyelash of victory. The rumblings of a hostage deal in the week before the 1980 election. (I think that might actually have worked against Jimmy Carter if it had actually come off.) The indictment of Caspar Weinberger four days before the 1992 election by Larry Walsh. In fact, the only GOP-leaning “October surprise� that I can think of was Kissinger’s “peace is at hand� statement in late October 1972. By that time, though, the only issue was the breadth of Nixon’s win, not its fact.

Another interesting factoid is that October surprises are increasingly becoming September surprises. With so many states now allowing early voting, waiting until just before the election risks missing a substantial percentage of voters.

The last paragraph is right-on. The first is mendacious even by wingnut standards. (Here’s a history of the phrase ‘October Surprise’ from Slate, which isn’t a lot better.)

Actually, there’s a very good case that the real ‘October Surprise’ of 1980 was courtesy of Ronald Reagan’s goon squad. Also, while they are mostly right about that expert at dirty pool LBJ, Frum, his correspondent, and Slate neglect to mention the real dirty trick of 1968 — Republican mole Henry Kissinger’s sabotage of the Paris peace talks:

Here is the secret in plain words. In the fall of 1968, Richard Nixon and some of his emissaries and underlings set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations on Vietnam. The means they chose were simple: they privately assured the South Vietnamese military rulers that an incoming Republican regime would offer them a better deal than would a Democratic one. In this way, they undercut both the talks themselves and the electoral strategy of Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The tactic “worked,” in that the South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby destroying the peace initiative on which the Democrats had based their campaign. In another way, it did not “work,” because four years later the Nixon Administration tried to conclude the war on the same terms that had been on offer in Paris. The reason for the dead silence that still surrounds the question is that in those intervening years some 20,000 Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians lost their lives. Lost them, that is to say, even more pointlessly than had those slain up to that point. The impact of those four years on Indochinese society, and on American democracy, is beyond computation. The chief beneficiary of the covert action, and of the subsequent slaughter, was Henry Kissinger.

I don’t believe for a moment that Frum doesn’t know all this. I’m also pretty sure that he knows that the silly theories about Democrats being behind the Foley bombshells are bullshit. Frum’s not ignorant; he’s dishonest.

**Update: Also, it’s worth noting, considering Frum’s allegations of Democratic paranoia, that the Watergate break-in was most likely conducted out of Republican paranoia of an ‘October Surprise’ — Nixon’s worry over what Larry O’Brien knew about his and Agnew’s taking boatloads of cash funneled through Tom Pappas that came from the Greek junta that was, in turn, funded by the CIA. God, David Frum is an asshole.


Comments: 31


There is a reason that the term October Surprise is now used solely to describe Democratic dirty tricks.
When Republicans try to steal elections or manufacture propaganda victories or scandals at crucial moments before elections no-one is surprised. People assume it’s normal. The soft bigotry of low expectations i suppose. Everyone is so used to the Repubs being utterly corrupt and mendacious that they are given a much lower baseline. The only thing that would shock the press at this point would be if Vice-President Cheney was caught fisting kittens in Central Park


“What Frum doesn’t mention, of course, is that the supposedly unfair release of Bush’s DWI record was much, much more than undone by Bush theft of Florida’s electoral votes. ”

And of course “the Democrats” wouldn’t have been able to release the DWI record if Bush hadn’t had it scrubbed in the first place. A fact which bears a remarkable resemblance to the fact that “the Democrats” (ie ABC and their Republican sources) were only able to spring an October surprise this year because a Republican congressman repeatedly sexually harrassed minors and the Republican leadership covered it up. How unfair of the Democrats!


Frum’s not ignorant; he’s dishonest.

He’s also stupid, in that uniquely wingnut “No actual facts will ever be permitted to enter my virgin brain, for contamination by Teh Real would only imperil the rigor of my belief systems” way. Which means that if he’s talking about how no Repub would ever *stoop* to committing something as unseemly as an October Surprise, then Karl Rove has already lined up his chosen October Surprise and will start pitching it to the usual wingtard welfare suspects no later than this weekend. Remember, Frum was the Bush cultist who got shitcanned for bragging in public about being responsible for the whole “Axis of Evil” meme… just as the phrase finally lost all credibility except as a punchline for particularly lazy comedians.

So, any bets on what dear, sweet, cuddly Unka Karl is gonna hork up on the political rug this time?


Thank you, ichomobothogogus!

I am now off to Daily Kos, where I will write a diary titled: “Vice-President Cheney was caught fisting kittens in Central Park”, and I can link to your comment as a reference! Hey, that kind of rigorous citing has worked for the administration, right?


FWIW: This is a preview of the next installment of Wingnut All-Stars. I’m still too sick of Goldstein to bother with the follow-up to his entry right now, so a good while back I picked Frum as the next wingnut to be annihilated. I just in the last few days completed the hard work of organizing all the links according to subject. Now comes the relatively easier job of organizing them within those subjects and then writing the post. Should be completed in a couple of weeks, work and midterms allowing.


The Iran/Contra special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, is a Republican. I don’t think he indicted Cap to hand the Democrats a victory.

Read his book Firewall and marvel at all the (criminal) names who keep showing up these days. Unfortunately, they’re here as tragedy again, not farce.


Oh lordy, David Frum. *ahem* As is my sacred duty, when I see Mr. Frum’s name pop up (along with his usual reprehensible comments), I must apologize to you fine Americans on behalf of Canada. His mom was an actual respectable journalist. I have no idea what happened to him.

PS Please don’t send him back. Thanks.


The fact that a neocon salad-tosser like Frum is from Canada may prove once and for all that shit can run uphill.


I happened to flip the channel to PBS’s Newshour one night this week, and they had on Frum for his “analysis.” Him, and Viguerie. Damn liberal media.

Now, to debate the call for Speaker Hastert’s resignation, we turn to two longtime conservative activists: Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com and author of the book, “Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause”; and David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush, he’s now a contributing editor at the National Review and a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


Frum was the Bush cultist who got shitcanned for bragging in public about being responsible for the whole “Axis of Evil� meme…

Just a reminder, Frum was only responsible for Axis and of. The WH came up with Evil, as is their wont. Amazing how famous one lousy noun and a preposition can take you, isn’t it?


Major Revelations of the 21st Century

# 1,426: “…David Frum is an asshole.


Dr. Death was also at the center of perhaps the greatest “October Surprise”–coming back from Paris waving his blank piece of paper proclaiming “Peace is at hand,” in order to undercut McGovern. Of course, the government in South Vietnam had already told Dr. Death that no way, uh-uh, they weren’t signing on to certain takeover. So the talks fell apart–after the ’72 election–we bomb the hell out of Hanoi for two weeks in celebration of our savior’s birth, and ’73 starts off signing the same agreement that we could have had in late October. ‘Course, that did stave off the NVA overrunning south for two years–and by then the Son-of-a Bitch-in-Chief was drinking with the portraits in San Clemente rather than the White House.


If the Democrats truly think that total sweetheart, Karl Rove, is planning an ‘October Surprise’, then they are both paranoid and hypocritical.

Not only is Frum historically wrong, he’s also currently wrong:

According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an “October surprise” before the midterm elections. “In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an ‘October surprise’ to help win the November congressional elections,” reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax.

Dems are wondering if Karl Rove is going to do what he has promised to “Republican insiders”, but they are just paranoid and projecting?

Frum may just have entered language as an adjective for “bullshit that’s so amazingly divorced from reality it makes my brain hurt”. Nah…too many wingnuts claim that title.


is it actually possible within the realm of known physics to be wronger than david frum is right now?


I’m sure they have something up their sleeves. This Foley thing is smelling like a set-up in a big way to me right now. He was sacrificed to the cause, distracting everyone from the TRUE election issues of insane corruption, torture, war, lies and videotape-er- fearmongering. All the Dems are lapping it up, thinking, “We’ve got ’em now!”
Sunddenly, on All Hallow’s Eve, Herr Rove is gonna don his Osama mask and shreikingly tell us to “be afraid! for only Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist can save you.”

Smiling Mortician

Yeah, I’m leaning more and more toward thinking the Foley fiasco suits the GOP’s needs just fine and that the Dems need to keep their eye on the ball. One good sign: Nancy Pelosi put out an email this morning reminding everyone that Foley is just a symptom of the greater dishonesty and corruption — and then made a very specific point of hammering the key issues (Iraq, the constitution, little stuff like that . . .)


No No No!

Fox Newts has shown the way. From now on any Republican Scandal will simply be marketed as a Democratic Scandal, after the perp has been thrown under the bus and given to the sciencetologists.


Autofellatio meet Mr Frum…


On behalf of the people of Canada, I’d like to thank you fine folks for taking David Frum off our hands. I don’t suppose you’d like Adam Yoshida as well?

Hate Encrusted Eyes

Sir David Frum is sapien scum.
His words are a deluge of lies.
He plays his right hand, in conservatostan
And makes all honest men cry.
We must hope and pray
There will come a day
When such evil is justly rewarded
But until then
I’m sorry my friend
Our frumming has only just started.


Oh lordy, David Frum… His mom was an actual respectable journalist. I have no idea what happened to him.

When was he born? Down here in the Lower 48, airborne lead particulate pollution peaked in 1973. Twenty years later, some institute graphed the amount of lead in the atmosphere as a perfect inverse curve against SAT scores between the 1960s and the 1980s. Low-level lead poisoning causes subtle damage to the fetal brain — it’s not the relatively few IQ points shaved away, it’s the long-term effects on the subject’s attention span, intellectual focus, and long-term reasoning skills. The late 1960s and early 1970s were also the peak years for smoking and drinking by pregnant women (nobody could have predicted that nicotine & alcohol would cross the fetal barrier, or at least that “insignificant” amounts of nicotine & alcohol would have a significant effect on the developing fetal brain). As a back-end Boomer, one of my few schadenfreude consolations against the following generation has been that some of them actually can’t help having the mental focus of a caffeinated hummingbird.


Anne, holy crapola.

Frum clearly has his superior pants on, we better get off his lawn.



is it actually possible within the realm of known physics to be wronger than david frum is right now?

Cue Wolfgang Pauli (a physicist, even!):
“This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong.”


I’ve already predicted the “October Surprise,” though, admittedly, that was before “La Cage aux Foley” hit the headlines. I expect that the Republican’ts are more desperate than they have been since the days of Thomas Dewey, so literally anything could happen between now and the election. Anyway, I feel the original gameplan was to “discover” the long-lost WMDs in Iraq. Much triumphal shouting of “Bush was right!!!” The media totally rolls over, hoping Dear Leader hadn’t noticed their recent bout of uppitiness. The headlines all SCREAM, “WMD Found In Iraq”!!!!!! And, of course, nobody takes too close a look, lest evidence crop up that the WMDs were planted. The hope on the Rethugs’ side is that the fact that the WMDs were planted remains a secret, but if it comes to light, the various army personnel who did it become convenient “bad apples” to lay the blame on. The whole, feeble concoction need only hold together until election day. After that, the various scandals can be swept underneath the carpet.


This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong

I’m not sure if this is pimping or whoring, but if you are one of the two or three peeps who wonder about string theory, you gotta read this…



I can’t do it, mikey, I’m sorry!!!!!!!!!!!

10 hours at work today followed by 2.5 hours class. Then another 2 hours combined homework + chill-out and dinner……



Frum’s mother must be rolling in her grave. How he ended up a complete fucking asswipe of a human being with a mom like Barbara is a complete mystery.


Yeah, I echo a previous commenter who apologizes on behalf of Canuckistan for Frum. Please do keep the lout (along with Celine Dionne).


I think I’ve got it:

Liberals opposed to the Iraq war were right but for all the wrong reasons, whereas we liberal hawks were wrong for but all the right reasons. Moreover, being wrong was the right thing to be at the time, so anyone who wasn’t wrong was simply refusing to be properly misled. Finally, while the right people may have been wrong about the war, those who were right were most decidedly the wrong kind of people, so the right people can ignore them now, just like we did then.

Makes so much sense it’s sensible.

Notorious P.A.T.

What Frum doesn’t mention, of course, is that the supposedly unfair release of Bush’s DWI record was much, much more than undone by Bush theft of Florida’s electoral votes.

My memory may be faulty, but wasn’t that story broken by FoxNews?


Seriously, I’ve often thought that we are getting stupider. Weren’t the grownups smarter in the 50s and 60s? They fucked up, for sure, but they weren’t dummies. Now, no one even tries, really. They just read the script. I feel stupider myself, though that could be just age. Hope so.


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