Go Speed Limpet, Go.
by Hunter (dailykos)
Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 01:31:51 PM PDT
Ah, the memorials to Karl Rove are out in force. Now Fred Barnes has one, so let's take a look and... um...
Sigh. You know what? I can't do this. I'm sorry, I just don't have it in me.
So in honor of our new modern economy, I'm going to outsource my remarks in this column to my six year old daughter. In this case, she's doing the job an American -- me -- doesn't want to do. So take it away, Fred Barnes, and I'll put the insights of my young daughter up against yours. She's very creative, it's about time she got a national audience.
Rove is the greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation. He not only is a breathtakingly smart strategist but also a clever tactician. He knows history, understands the moods of the public, and is a visionary on matters of public policy. But he is not a magician.
I think you and I should invent a burping machine together. Then I could make it burp in your ear.
Political advisers like Rove offer advice, not magic. And Rove's advice has been very good over the years. He got Bush to run as "a different kind of Republican" in 2000--that is, different from Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. And he made sure that as president, Bush (unlike his father) stayed closed to the conservative base of the Republican party.
I can read that sign! It says "Speed Limpet 45". Daddy, what's a Speed Limpet?
Yet the legend of [strategists'] capability to achieve much more simply won't die. Rove has been faulted for the failure of Bush's two major domestic initiatives of his second term, Social Security reform and immigration reform. For sure, Rove strongly favored both policies and expected them to fare better than they did. But is he to blame for near-unanimous Democratic opposition to overhauling Social Security? Of course not. And it was Bush's dip in popularity, not anything Rove did or didn't do, that wiped out any White House influence on immigration.
Oh yeah? Well you smell like a chickenburger. And now I'm invisible, so you can't see me. I'm not under the blanket, that's a ghost. The ghost of a tiger.
If you lift the blanket, the tiger will eat you, so you better not do it.
OK, Hunter taking over again. I suppose that was devolving a little too rapidly into silliness (on both sides.)
Here's the thing. Someday, Karl Rove will die. When that day comes, we will all have to pretend he was something other than a piss-headed man hated by everyone but those he found useful, and as matter of convention we will have to treat him with momentary respect. So let's write his epitaph now, while being as mean to him is still perfectly allowable and much more sporting.
Karl Rove was not a "great political mind". His sole contribution to the nation was getting the worst president in history elected on a campaign of unabashed bullcrap, then proceeding to help guide that president into foreign and domestic policy failures at every opportunity. If that's what passes for Republican brilliance, then it explains... well, pretty much everything, actually. Point taken.
Rove's oft-touted "genius" is nothing more than single-minded amorality. In campaigns and in the administration, he was and is unapologetically amoral in service to his own cause or that of his client: his "genius" is that he has consistently been willing to go farther, be meaner, and invent more astonishing lies than would be done by anyone in politics with a thin remaining threads of a conscience. From smearing John McCain's children with race-baiting taunts to attacking the careers and wives of critics to helping corrupt the most basic and foundational premises of the the United States Department of Justice, nothing has ever been considered "out of bounds". If a malevolent action is not taken -- such as ratcheting up the already venomous Republican rhetoric against immigrants -- it is done only in service to calculated poll numbers, never as a nod to basic morality or patriotism or human decency.
Under Rove, White House policies have revolved around manufacturing false frames for the press, and punishing reporters who stray too far from those frames. Terrorism, war, social security, the economy, government oversight: the defining characteristic of each administration campaign was an almost (but not quite) comical divorce of the asserted statements and the actual facts. Rove's "genius" was that he could plan and launch a campaign announcing that the sky was green, and the mechanisms of the entire executive branch, from press flunkies to cabinet secretaries to low-level political appointees, would spring into action as coordinated effort to assert the fiction as fact. Government reports would be rewritten to reflect the assertion, and government scientists and experts who objected could either pipe down or get out. Faxes would go out to the media, and Fox News would start calling the sky green. Fred Barnes would pen columns devoted to its brilliant emerald hue. Rush Limbaugh would assert it as transparently obvious, and rail against the seventy percent of America that dared look out their window. The President would travel from town to town, meeting with hand-chosen groups of Americans willing to sign statements that they did, in fact, believe in the new Healthy Green Skies initiative. And if you, American citizen, were left out of the fun, who the hell cares? You are not part of the fifty-one percent of Americans that matter in the complex spreadsheet that masqueraded as the only consistent White House apparatus of national policy, these last six years. Half the country matters: the other half is obstacle.
Rove's "genius" has been that he has, in campaigns and government, been entirely unencumbered by morality or shame. Rove's "genius" has been a complete inability to even distinguish between campaigning and government. Rove's only contribution to politics has been to bemusedly mock the very notion of a government existing to serve the people, instead harnessing it at every opportunity to act in mere service of politics for politics' sake. He at no point has shown interest in guiding his president in service to his nation: his strategies of constant national division, most often appearing as meanspirited campaigns of prejudice and fearmongering, were constant reminders that this White House had absolutely no intention of governing all the people, and the politicization of even the most essential tasks of government made sure that they did not do so even as accident.
A great political mind? Hardly. He could carve up constituencies with the best of them, and divide the country as easily as columns on a spreadsheet -- and with no more thought -- but Karl Rove was no more a political genius than Jeffrey Dahmer was a brilliant culinary artist. Being the most unapologetically unethical person in the room does not make you avant-garde. Time and time again, though, it's been proven to make you famous.
Having said all that, this is hardly a fitting epitaph, because it's not like Rove's going to be going anywhere. Let's see, can we fathom any possible reason why a lifelong political operative would leave a lame-duck White House for a private career in the very months when the next presidential election cycle is finally starting to simmer?
Hmm. That's a tough one. Yes, it must be because he wants to spend more time with his family.