Say what you will about Turd Blossom, he knows his politics. The master of the wedge and George W Bush’s former deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove has today written in The Wall Street Journal about the changing rules of politics — and it makes for fascinating reading. Is the American public wising up? Meanwhile, Naomi Klein asks if the subprime crisis marks the death of Bush’s much touted “Ownership Society”, and The Atlantic speculates about whether Al Gore will become kingmaker and anoint Obama before Super Tuesday…

Turd blossom on the new rules of politics: The 20th century’s closing decades saw the rise of the TV ad man as the most potent operator in presidential campaigns. The 21st century’s opening decade is seeing the rise of the communications director and press spokesman as the more important figures on a campaign staff. It is the age of the Internet, cable TV, YouTube, multiple news cycles in one day, and the need for really instantaneous response. Ads and ad makers are still vital — but not nearly as much as they were just a few years ago. — Karl Rove, The Wall Street Journal

Obama’s army of youth: Frustrated by feckless Washington, energized by the unscripted, pundit-baffling freedom of a wide-open race, young people are voting in numbers rarely seen since the general election of 1972 — the first in which the voting age was lowered to 18. Obama is both catalyst and beneficiary. In state after state, he has drawn more young voters than any of his competitors. — David Von Drehle, Time

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Death of the ownership society: Remember the “ownership society,” fixture of major George W. Bush addresses for the first four years of his presidency? “We’re creating…an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property,” Bush said in October 2004. Washington think-tanker Grover Norquist predicted that the ownership society would be Bush’s greatest legacy, remembered “long after people can no longer pronounce or spell Fallujah.” Yet in Bush’s final State of the Union address, the once-ubiquitous phrase was conspicuously absent. And little wonder: rather than its proud father, Bush has turned out to be the ownership society’s undertaker. — Naomi Klein, The Nation

Rupert and Hillary — the timeline: Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post announced its endorsement of Barack Obama in the presidential election, complete with a stinging screed against the Clintons. But wait, hadn’t they all made nice recently? While Murdoch’s rag skewered the pair throughout their White House years, referring to Bill as the “horndog-in-chief,” and it was no kinder to Hillary in her early Senate days, Rupe and the Clintons reached a much publicized détente a few years back. Murdoch went on to host a campaign fundraiser for Hillary’s senate reelection in 2006 and became increasingly involved in The Clinton Global Initiative and efforts to combat global warming. But with yesterday’s Obama endorsement, those Hillary/Murdoch ’08 jokes don’t play. What happened to this less-than-beautiful political odd coupling?Radar

Is McCain the Democrats worst nightmare?: Democrats fear that McCain could wreck their hopes of retaking the White House in November. At a meeting in Washington in November 2006, about 60 senior Democrats, including figures such as Gary Hart, Madeleine Albright and Tom Daschle, as well as younger, rising stars, discussed election strategy. Towards the end of the day-long, off-the-record session, the question was asked: “What would happen if McCain was the Republican candidate?” The resounding answer from several of the participants was: “We’re dead meat.” — Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian

Waiting for Gore: Yes, yes, I know. Gore has said he won’t endorse. He’s happily retired from politics now, a senior statesman, a big-shot investor. He’s won an Oscar and a Nobel. The cause he crusaded for has become central to the public conversation in a way even he could never have imagined. All of these are good reasons to stay out of the fray. But they’re equally good reasons to jump into it. What would be the risk? There’s no chance that his endorsement would be followed by an embarrassing Dean-like collapse; Obama has already notched wins. Climate change won’t suddenly disappear from the agenda if he loses. And nobody’s going to take away the golden statuette. — Joshua Green, The Atlantic

A $32 million month: That’s how much Senator Barack Obama has raised so far in January, according to his campaign manager, David Plouffe, who announced the first fund-raising tally of 2008. The campaign attracted 170,000 new contributors during the month, he said. — The Caucus, The New York Times

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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