Low Concept

Karl Rove’s Brain

How Mark Hanna destroyed William Jennings Bryan (maybe).

“McKinley’s close adviser, Mark Hanna, was the country’s first famous handler. In Canton, [Karl] Rove had insisted on visiting the McKinley memorial. ‘It was like a pilgrimage,’ recalled one of his hosts.”Newsweek, Sept. 6, 2004

All messages standard time
Cable Night Letter

Canton, Ohio
1900, August 30 p.m. 11:17

President William McKinley
Executive Mansion
Washington, D.C.

My Dear President. Stop. Congratulations on your magnificent nomination for second term. Stop. Some thoughts herein on glorious Republican National Convention and forthcoming autumn campaign. Stop.

Our fisticuffs with William Jennings Bryan a brilliant success as we arranged for orator after orator to punch out his lights. Stop. Commencing with Remember the Maine Night Bryan made to appear soft on Havana terror. Stop. Plan is to step it up and say that all U.S. battleships will be sunk if quote “wrong choice” unquote made. Stop. Anarchists will bomb public squares. Stop.

Day after day Democratic candidate resoundingly shown as stinking mackerel flopping and flipping on deck of ship of state. Stop. This fellow just another straw-hatted, saltwater-taffy-licking Nebraska progressive and product of the debauched culture of the Gay ‘90s. Stop. He even rode bicycle wearing skin-tight knickers! Exclamation point. Fortunately Bryan full of thorns now for resisting our imperialism policy. Stop. With swarthy eyebrows and that silky mane he looks Spanish. Stop. 

More fair and balanced commentary forthwith. Stop. Campaign mission not accomplished until Nebraska seen less as Cornhusker State than den of iniquity for socialistic knaves with no moral values. Stop. New drawing-room focus conclaves show voting public willing to see us hit below the waistcoat, like Blaine against Cleveland’s illegitimate child in ‘84. Stop. Pinkerton agents think Bryan laundress might be promising lead. Stop.

At Democratic Convention in Kansas City Bryan lambasted imperialism as quote “profitable for the Army contractors” unquote. Does not your brother with the old bank troubles and the vice president receive gratuities from such companies? Question mark. To forestall inquiry I have transferred Standard Oil stock to Miss Ida Tarbell and 40 Armour hams to U. Sinclair and arranged quote “friendly” unquote midnight meeting at the docks between Pullman strikebreakers and this Lincoln Steffens. Stop. New policy toward yellow press comes from vice president quote “Muck off!” exclamation point, unquote. 

With more than $3 million in McKinley coffers we have raised most campaign money ever thanks to policy of favoring wealthy trusts and robber barons under all circumstances. Stop. Suggest we use some funds to link Democrats to anarchists and Wobblies in the streets. Stop. Tough Cuba policy should help in Florida and high tariffs in West Virginia, even if they violate all of your conservative principles. Stop. While recognizing that Teddy Roosevelt has no use for you as a person, I remain gratified that in the convention hall he decried L. Frank Baum, sitting in the galleries wearing a baseball cap, as a quote “disingenuous novel-maker” unquote for depicting you as a fraudulent and not terribly bright wizard who sat for seven and a half minutes reading My Pet Toto while the Emerald City burned. Stop.

Strategy is to triumph by going directly at Bryan strengths. Stop. So now will portray him as enemy of agriculture in league with sinners of the cities. Stop. You and Mrs. McKinley should continue in public to honor and respect his service to the church while we turn one of the most religious men ever to run for president into a blasphemer and atheist with the help of an organization called Christian Soldiers for Truth. Stop. This organization is preparing illustrations and banners independent of us! Exclamation point. These attest to Bryan supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution and opposing the biblical truth of creation. Stop. None of these men were ever present for Bryan’s daily prayer sessions or for the fiery baptisms he routinely performed in the river, but they deny he did so and they argue that his Cross of Gold speech is an affront to our Lord and Savior because real cross was made of wood. Stop. Their efforts will assure that voters forget that your own last appearance in church came in 1872 in Alabama and that even then you skipped the sermon and snuck out to the front porch for a smoke. Stop.

I shall close with my own prayer that our efforts will be a light unto future generations endeavoring to turn night into day and day into night. Stop.

As always,

Mark Hanna