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A Tea Party Consultant on the ‘Black Arts’ of His Trade

In a lengthy confessional from a tea party political consultant in Playboy today, some small tactical plans of the (admittedly splintered) movement this fall are revealed. For one, don’t expect to hear about abortion and gay marriage. “We have new foils, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” explains the anonymous K Street denizen. “Leveraging rage about a bailout for mega-millionaires and an $800 billion ‘stimulus’ that has barely moved unemployment below double figures is a cinch compared with explaining why Bobby and Joey’s marriage is bad for America.” You see, “leveraging rage” is what this man (or woman)’s job is all about. “We’re playing to the reptilian brain rather than the logic centers, so we look for key words and images to leverage the intense rage and anxiety of white working-class conservatives,” the consultant goes on. “In other words, I talk to the same part of your brain that causes road rage.”

The Playboy source tells of one particular group, “Ensuring Liberty,” and how it gets its message out.

The campaign plan for one of the organizations I help uses the phrase black arts when talking about how we’ll win in the fall. It’s not a document filled with dirty tricks but a plan to create a nonprofit organization called Ensuring Liberty Corporation. It uses unconventional methods to get our message out and support grassroots conservatives: “Ensuring Liberty’s relationships run deep into the new media and use of cloud computing and innovation along with the black arts of campaign management. That is not to say that [we] will undertake actions that contravene any legal or ethical principles; however, the use of surprise, investigative journalism and other key experience will allow for rapid deployment of strategies that many candidates simply do not understand or take advantage of during their actual election campaign.”

Think Swift Boating, or the James O’Keefe ACORN project. It sounds dark the way this person describes it (“black arts” never sound particularly appetizing, unless they are practiced by Robert Pattinson), but it’s really nothing new. The question is whether Barack Obama, as head of the Democratic Party, is going to retain his frustrating coolness in the fall as these tactics are being used against liberal candidates across the country in an effort to take away the Democratic majority in Congress. No matter how rational he can be, is reason any good when it’s up against road rage?

Rogues of K Street [Playboy]

A Tea Party Consultant on the ‘Black Arts’ of His Trade