Author Topic: Leaving the Sinking Ship  (Read 1807 times)

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_JS

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Leaving the Sinking Ship
« on: August 14, 2007, 10:22:16 AM »
Not the legacy he had in mind
Michael Tomasky
August 13, 2007 1:45 PM

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Karl Rove's legacy? I have my own ideas about it, but let's start by asserting that his place in the history books will not be quite the one he envisioned for himself.

During the 2000 campaign, Rove was fond of saying that he thought of George Bush as today's William McKinley, the Republican who won the 1896 presidential election handily over the Democrat William Jennings Bryan. McKinley's victory ushered in an era of GOP dominance that lasted the better part of 35 years, until Franklin Roosevelt came along. Rove predicted that Bush's victory would do the same. The brains behind this paradigm shift, it went without saying, was Rove himself, who would be credited as the genius who kick-started a new era in which America embraced conservatism and fully and finally rejected anything having to do with the Democratic party.

Well, now. That's going well for him, isn't it?

Instead, Rove leaves two other legacies. They are incompetence and duplicity. It's hard to know which is worse. Actually, no it isn't. The duplicity has been worse, but let's emphasise here his incompetence, because it is operatic. As has so often been the case in America these last seven years, the facts are completely at odds with the cultivated image.

Let's remember first of all: Rove, and Bush, did not win the 2000 presidential election. Al Gore won the popular vote. Gore ran a mostly pretty bad campaign on the basis of mostly pretty bad advice. And still he won, by 500,000 votes. Were it not for a poorly designed ballot in one county in Florida - not whining; just pointing it out - that enticed many elderly Jews into voting for Pat Buchanan, Bush's defeat would have been clear. He and Rove would have been sent home and forgotten.

So Bush won the election in the supreme court. Well, that's the way it goes. We had to accept the court's verdict as a country and go forward. But the fact remains that Bush won that election by five votes, the five supreme court votes that installed him in the White House. Nothing Karl Rove did got him those votes.

So Rove engineered only one successful presidential election. By a bare 3 million votes (or just 70,000 votes in Ohio, if you care to count it that way). Against a mediocre candidate who ran another bad campaign. For an incumbent president during wartime. Not really a feat for the ages, but okay, a win is a win.

So what did Rove do with that win? He pushed his president to stake his "political capital," as Bush famously said during a post-election press conference, on dismantling social security. And yes, Rove really pushed it.

It was an unpopular idea from the start. It never polled well, and it made congressional Republicans very nervous. The White House never even produced a piece of actual legislation, but Bush spent the first six months of his new term travelling the country and giving speeches praising the marvels of private accounts.

The polls didn't budge. By late April, early May, it was obvious that this scheme was going nowhere. But no - Karl was just certain things were going to change any minute now! After all, it was written on the tablets of history! Bush was McKinley! The realignment was coming!

Then came Katrina. Rove's specific role in this debacle remains a bit of a mystery, but let's put it this way: His McKinley was out in Arizona giving speeches, yukking it up with hand-picked audiences of senior citizens, cutting a birthday cake with John McCain and blithely strumming a guitar with a country-and-western singer, while American citizens were dying in New Orleans. Rove, one had been led to believe, was a genius at "optics", at showing the president to be firmly in charge. Nice work!

But soon enough it was time think about another election. Here, surely, Rove would shine; this was his metier. Circumstances had changed a bit. The Iraq war wasn't going so well. But Rove knew what would work. Stick to the script: equate a Democratic victory with a win for the terrorists. Works every time. But those annoying voters forgot that they were supposed to be acting according to Rove's predetermined script.

In sum, he often gave his president terrible advice. And though Iraq is the main reason for Bush's collapse and was more directly the project of Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and others, Rove certainly did his share to ensure that Bush will leave Washington as one of the least successful presidents in history.

On the duplicity front, the evidence is voluminous. It goes back to his days in the College Republicans, when he was running for national chairman of that organisation and at the same time conducting training seminars instructing campaign workers in techniques such as rooting through opponents' trash cans. This against his fellow Republicans.

But don't take it from me. Here's Rove himself, in memos to a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Texas who preceded Bush named Bill Clements: "The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by rapid and audacious attack." And: "Anti-White [Clements' opponent] messages are more important than positive Clements messages. Attack. Attack. Attack."

Thus the whispering campaigns that always seemed to spring up. That Ann Richards, Bush's gubernatorial opponent in Texas, was a lesbian. That John McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. And the worst - that a Democratic state supreme court judge in Alabama who worked with troubled youths was a paedophile.

And finally, the attacks on the patriotism of those who opposed Bush's post-9/11 initiatives. Including war heroes, like former Georgia Democratic senator Max Cleland, who left three limbs in Vietnam. Rove, of draft age during the war, managed not to go. Yes, politics is a rough sport, and yes, Democrats do skeezy things too. But Rove is part of a generation of Republican consultants, along with the late Lee Atwater, that plumbed new depths.

The end result? His president is at 31% and will go down in history as a failure. The country is in worse shape, majorities of Americans believe, than it's been in quite a while. The Middle East is a powder keg. Terrorism is on the rise.

There is, though, a silver lining: Rove may have indeed played a part in bringing about a political realignment. It just won't be the one he had in mind.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Knutey

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2007, 10:59:35 AM »

The_Professor

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2007, 12:04:46 PM »
Analysis: Karl Rove's Timing Is Perfect
Ronald Kessler
Monday, Aug. 13, 2007
Karl Rove's decision to leave the White House at the end of the month makes perfect sense.

Besides getting a huge advance in a book deal, Rove will be contributing to President Bush's legacy by writing a book that will be more widely read if it comes out when Bush is still president.

As part of shaping Bush's legacy, he is going to be one of the key planners of the Bush library, where he will have a prominent position. Rove is a brilliant student of American history, surpassing the most erudite history professors. He will relish comparing Bush with other presidents.

Rove will still be available whenever the president needs his advice. In the meantime, Ed Gillespie, as counselor to the president, has begun to provide political advice that Karl otherwise might give.

At Gillespie's urging, Bush has responded more aggressively to attacks by the Democrats on his war policies and has taken them on over excessive spending. Pushed by Gillespie, Bush has made more public appearances. The fact that Bush flew to the site of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis shows he has learned since Hurricane Katrina that for political reasons, a president must make such appearances.

In an interview with Paul Gigot, who broke the story of Rove's resignation in the Wall Street Journal, Rove denied that his departure now is intended to avoid congressional scrutiny.

"I know they'll say that," Rove said. "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."


As a political strategist, Rove's job was to advise Bush what programs, policies, and campaign promises would sell well. Rove was critical to fashioning Bush's two election victories.

When Collister "Coddy" Johnson first began working for the Bush campaign in 1999, he had the task of drafting a letter from Bush to Iowa farmers. Johnson was in Rove's office on the first floor of campaign headquarters in Austin when Rove read his draft. Rove wrote a few notes on the letter and handed it back to Johnson. At the top, Rove had written, "Purpose?"

"What do you mean by ?purpose,' sir?" Johnson asked. "If you mean the thesis, I think it's right there, in the last line of the first graph ? the thesis, I mean."

"The thesis, eh?" Rove replied. "Well, if that's your Ivy-league language," he said to the Yale graduate, "let's talk about theses, antitheses, and syntheses," using philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's formulations. "Where is the tension in the letter? How do you drive the purpose, its synthesis, from that tension? I don't see it, and I don't think the second and third graphs carry it."

Johnson, who became national field director of the 2004 campaign, walked back to his desk, recognizing that the letter was dull and somewhat amazed that Hegel had just been quoted in a campaign office. In the White House, Rove participated in every significant decision with the exception of issues involving the war and national security. "Karl will participate in many types of decisions by giving strategic and political advice," Alberto Gonzales told me when he was White House counsel.


"For example, Karl may tell the president this is what we believe will be the public reaction in certain parts of the country to a particular decision. However, the decision to go to war was not driven by Karl's political advice."

The press dubbed Rove "Bush's Brain," suggesting that Bush had none. "Karl Rove thinks it, and George W. Bush does it," James Moore and Wayne Slater said flatly in their book "Bush's Brain." But it was Bush who decided how to meld Rove's political advice with his own principles and advice from policy aides about the content of programs.

While they are friends, it was always clear who was boss. Occasionally, Bush would bring Karl up short. Seeing reporters gathered around Rove on the presidential campaign plane, Bush said sarcastically, "Is the Karl Rove press conference over yet?" But when Bush discussed ideas with other aides, he would ask, "What does Karl think?"

While the media delight in deriding Bush's brain, it was that same brain that recognized Rove as perhaps the greatest political tactician in American history. Now Rove has taken his own tactical advice on when to leave. His timing, as usual, is perfect.

***************************
"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for western civilization as it commits suicide."
                                 -- Jerry Pournelle, Ph.D

Christians4LessGvt

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2007, 12:27:17 PM »
cheap talk vs. results


Swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito


Judge John G. Roberts is sworn-in as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" - Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

_JS

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2007, 01:02:30 PM »
Quote
let's talk about theses, antitheses, and syntheses," using philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's formulations

I'm beginning to see why Bush has been such a disaster.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

sirs

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2007, 01:27:38 PM »
Can't wait for another 15years to pass before we have a grasp of what his real legacy will be, vs the pundits with their knee jerk reactions of how bad he's supposed to be.  IIRC Regan was supposed to be a "disaster" at the end of his term.  So much for knee jerk punditry on that one
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Knutey

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2007, 01:37:31 PM »
Can't wait for another 15years to pass before we have a grasp of what his real legacy will be, vs the pundits with their knee jerk reactions of how bad he's supposed to be.  IIRC Regan was supposed to be a "disaster" at the end of his term.  So much for knee jerk punditry on that one

Reagan was sort of the demonic John the Baptist to the devil Bush which brought the disaster to fruition.

_JS

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2007, 01:55:29 PM »
Can't wait for another 15years to pass before we have a grasp of what his real legacy will be

Truly one of the greats has left the building. He oversaw the return of a quiet solemn dignity to the White House. I tip my hat to Karl Rove, who towered above other, well..."tower" is a strong word. A man whose dancing skills are what we expect from a little, fat, bald, Republican who recorded in his autobiography that one of the defining moments of his youth was getting routinely beat up by a Catholic schoolgirl who supported John Kennedy for President.

Dance and rap on MC Rove. Dance and rap on...
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Knutey

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2007, 02:03:59 PM »
Can't wait for another 15years to pass before we have a grasp of what his real legacy will be

Truly one of the greats has left the building. He oversaw the return of a quiet solemn dignity to the White House. I tip my hat to Karl Rove, who towered above other, well..."tower" is a strong word. A man whose dancing skills are what we expect from a little, fat, bald, Republican who recorded in his autobiography that one of the defining moments of his youth was getting routinely beat up by a Catholic schoolgirl who supported John Kennedy for President.

Dance and rap on MC Rove. Dance and rap on...

He looks exactly like the organ grinder monkey that he is.

sirs

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2007, 02:56:46 PM »
And let the knee jerk punditry sing on      8)
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Richpo64

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2007, 03:59:52 PM »
>> ... And let the knee jerk punditry sing on ... <<

Seriously, who gives a damn what the Bush-haters think of Karl Rove?

Thanks to Karl we didn't get Al or John. That alone should but him on Mount Rushmore.

Something I think we need to remember is that nothing is out of bounds when it comes to the left and how it gains power. They will do and say anything to get what they want, and when they get it, they celebrate and sanctify those who get it for them. When the other side gains power by similar means, they are evil personified.

So really, who gives a damn what the leftist/communists think of Karl Rove? Good luck and God speed Karl. Job well done.

Michael Tee

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2007, 04:04:46 PM »
<<Reagan was sort of the demonic John the Baptist to the devil Bush which brought the disaster to fruition.>>

WELL SAID, Knute. 

The end of a democratic America is now within sight, and Rove has done as much as anyone to bring it about.  I don't think the rest will take even ten years, 15 maybe at the most.  As the Professor points out, you now have the Supreme Court you need.  Now it's up to the politicians to find the excuses they need to put the Court to work.

Richpo64

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2007, 04:11:46 PM »
<<Reagan was sort of the demonic John the Baptist to the devil Bush which brought the disaster to fruition.>>

>> WELL SAID, Knute. <<

Another perfect example of the blind hatred coming from the leftist/communists. None of it is even remotely based in fact. People, these are the kind of twisted human beings who put people in re-education camps and ship them off to nowhere.

gipper

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2007, 05:02:39 AM »
Judged by the event of which we speak, and the responses by the respective sides to it here in this thread, it may not be premature to say that the rout is on.

Knutey

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Re: Leaving the Sinking Ship
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2007, 12:05:24 PM »
<<Reagan was sort of the demonic John the Baptist to the devil Bush which brought the disaster to fruition.>>

>> WELL SAID, Knute. <<

Another perfect example of the blind hatred coming from the leftist/communists. None of it is even remotely based in fact. People, these are the kind of twisted human beings who put people in re-education camps and ship them off to nowhere.


You must admit that you deserve it, Richpoopoo. The evidence that the Bushidiot has fucked up the country and the world is everywhere around you from failed bridges to failed wars. The only ones that dont see it are the greedy pricks like you that only care about fattening their wallets and themselves.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 12:18:02 PM by Knutey »