Because November’s trend line is not quite clear, the political visuals are also hard to read.
Adam Nagourney’s article in Sunday’s NYT Mag, an extended profile of Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, reveals a haggard and frustrated man. Citing his huge effort to bring blacks and latinos into the party, Mehlman is described as profoundly disillusioned over the way Bush and Katrina spoiled it. The write-up also hints at friction between Mehlman and Rove over authority, as well as bragging rights for the Bush string of victories.
On the other hand, the article also emphasizes Mehlman’s intense energy, as well as his still far superior Republican get-out-the-vote apparatus. A parallel Week In Review piece, also by Nagourney, emphasizes how the Repub campaign committee has raised more money and, at the steering level, remains much more unified then the Dems.
On first pass, an image like this is a total send up. With the pasted on smile, the background reminiscent of cheap wood panelling, and the gargantuan hand, it plays like a paean to the used-car salesman. Still, it’s a portrait, and could likely have been Mehlman’s idea. In that’s case, this is nothing more than an encapsulation of hard knuckled Republican tenacity.
It will be interesting to revisit this shot in November. Mehlman could end up the snake-oil pitchman, having crashed to earth after an usual stretch of luck. On the other hand, he might well have distinguish himself as the man who slapped enough backs, greased enough skids, and “converted enough of the demographic” to have pulled things out.
(image: Brent Humphreys/Redux for The New York Times. September 24, 2006. nyt.com.)