The Maestro's Good Press | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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The Maestro's Good Press

Scott Keeler/St. Pete Times

Doing things backwards and upside down today, so I'll highlight some of the weekend coverage in the afternoon instead of the morn.

First, both the Miami Herald and St. Pete Times introduced us to the "Maestro" of the Charlie Crist campaign, George Lemieux. Both stories led with anecdotes about the decision for Crist not to appear with George W. Bush in Pensacola before the election. In his Times story, Steve Bousquet sets up Lemieux as the anti-Rove: "Few things better illustrate the arrival of an important political strategist than his willingness, and his standing, to tick off Karl Rove."

But neither Bousquet nor the Herald's Mary Ellen Klas and Beth Reinhard bothered to say just how similar Lemieux's style was to Karl Rove's -- namely the relentless demonization of the opponent, no matter how despicable and dishonest it might be. The "Empty Chair" and "Jim Davis Meets With Terrorists" commercials were straight out of Rove's playbook. And it continues to amaze me, how, even in the post-mortem the vast majority of reporters (Michael Putney notwithstanding) continue to ignore the chief lesson of the campaign: Playing dirty, if you have the money, is the way to go.

No doubt Lemieux is a smart and talented operative who ran a strong campaign for Crist. But either it was the immoral ad campaign that won it or the charisma factor. Crist, with that natural Greek tan of his (no, really, it is!), surely outshone Davis as a personality. And, by that standard, it's sort of like giving Heat coach Pat Riley all the credit for Dwyane Wade's championship ring (or Magic Johnson's, for that matter). Lemieux's real fortune was that he picked the right horse (or the right horse picked him). And his obvious lack of decency served him well.

After the jump: Maucker Talks To His Peeps and De La Cruz Goes Grogan

-- In his biweekly column, Sun-Sentinel Editor Earl Maucker writes of a meeting with compatriots at the Sunrise Chamber of Commerce where one concerned member asked if the Sentinel, due to the decline of newspaperdom, would revert to sensationalism to sell newspapers. Answers Maucker:

"[W]hile we're eager to grow our business, we're not going to compromise our principles even if it would boost sales. We've spent years building a solid brand of respectability and we're not going to jeopardize it by desperately trying to build something artificial."

Can't you just hear him in front of those boostering fat cats talking about the Sentinel's "solid brand of respectability"? Don't worry guys, he's saying, we're still going to be just as lame and safe and cowardly as ever. And God knows Maucker would never build something artificial -- he's too busy with the Help Team to try good old-fashioned sensationalism.

There was a piece of good information in there: "Our Web site receives more than 2 million unique visitors and more than 30 million page views a month," Maucker informs us, "and we expect it to continue to grow."

Aww...Now Hand Me The Scalpel

-- In continuing to build on that "solid brand of respectability" among chambers of commerce everywhere, Ralph De La Cruz took a John Grogan turn this weekend. Y'all remember Grogan, the former Sentinel columnist whose writings about his family dog ultimately led to the mega-bestseller, Marley and Me? Well, De La Cruz is writing about Bowser the schnauzer. And boy, his dog is just as rambunctious and insouciant as Marley! Yeah, he's crazy alright. And De La Cruz really writes it up. Take this line: "Imagine what young Bowser is like indoors. And then double whatever you imagined."

Oh boy, my head is spinning now!! But guess what? They're having Bowser's little balls chopped off! Can you believe it? Read it here:

But I don't think any guy can hear the word "neuter" without feeling, well, a sense of ... loss.

"He'll never experience the thrill of playing ball with Bowser Jr.," I complained to Maria.

Not to speak of the pain and disgrace of having his ... his ... well, I couldn't even say it.

Of course he couldn't say it -- he writes for the Sun-Sentinel, a newspaper that has never so much as confirmed the existence of testicles, nonetheless exhibited them. Here's how it ends:

"Strangely, Bowser's trauma has brought him and me closer together. It didn't hurt that the "procedure" seemed to knock some of the arrogance out of him. But I also see him differently: no longer an out-of-control innocent, but rather someone who knows the pain of life.

Just another guy who's paid his dues."

Or another once-promising reporter hired by the Sentinel.