Friday, August 17, 2007

Good News And Bad News

The good news? After the end of August, Karl Rove will be gone from the White House.
The bad news? After the end of August, Karl Rove will be back in Texas.
There is a lot of talk about Rove’s legacy. Conservative Republicans hail him as a political genius. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard calls him “the greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation.”
So much for Machiavelli.
Moderate Republicans – there ARE still some of those -- are more muted, given the disaster that is the war in Iraq, the loss of control of both the House and the Senate, AND the failure of the immigration reform legislation, Rove’s last big legislative push.
I think Rove will be remembered as the main force behind the worst administration this country has ever experienced, the transformation of my beloved country into the most-hated nation on earth, and the redefining of “Christian” as mean-spirited, narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, and power-hungry.
He’ll be remembered as the man who turned the state of Texas red and who spread the same divisiveness and disdain for the marginalized here that he spread in Washington. Word is that he would like to lecture at some university here. God help us if he starts creating baby Roveites to continue his work.
Rove’s favorite mode of operation has always been “bully.” It’s why he and W bonded so quickly and deeply. Theirs is a relationship of cynical mutual backscratching. Karl is the nerdy overweight kid picked up by the popular handsome rich kid. W knew Karl would do his dirty work for him and help him navigate through a world that doesn’t always immediately recognize how wonderful and entitled he is. Karl knew W’s aura of coolness plus his circle of influential family and friends would not only protect W from too close scrutiny of his shallowness and lightweight qualifications, but would also allow Karl to bully everyone else with impunity – especially those who want access of some kind to W and his family and friends.
Karl learned early on that everyone wants something, and if he could control access to that, he would be incredibly powerful. Karl also learned early that most people don’t like confrontation, so a willingness to create a scene and to make all sorts of allegations about opponents can give one an automatic advantage over “nicer” people. Karl figured out that most people equate meanness with toughness.
But the most important thing Karl learned was the use of fear. Karl uses fear like other people use air – it fuels his life.
As a young political consultant Karl figured out four important things:
-- Every adult with the possible exception of Mother Teresa has something in his or her life they aren’t proud of – some small or large sin, some youthful indiscretion, some secret they would prefer their family and friends don’t find out about.
-- People love gossip about people in power or seeking power, and people love to be flattered by people in power.
-- People will vote against their own economic self-interest if you can make them afraid enough of “the other.”
-- Evangelical Christian leaders, especially in the South, were hungry for respect and power. They were tired of being caricatured as pompadoured fundamentalist kooks and hillbillies. The Moral Majority had given them a taste of what was possible and they wanted more. They hungered for entrĂ©e into that ultimate salon of power – the White House.
These four discoveries became the basic ingredients of Karl’s political work. He figured out that it doesn’t matter whether or not he knew people’s secrets. All he has to do is say that he not only knows them, but also is willing to divulge them and he can make most people back down or back off. He has made an art of the whisper campaign, almost always using accusations of homosexuality, a subject ripe for fear mongering.
Karl knew that homosexuality and the other issues of the Christian Right were emotional hot buttons that could keep people distracted while other goals were accomplished under the radar screen. He knew that a couple of Oval Office meetings would be enough to keep the Christian Right leaders carrying water for W for years.
The media – members of which are just as susceptible to the seductive lure of power as anyone -- were of immeasurable help. They did not look too aggressively into W’s business record or his political record. And when CBS did look into his National Guard service record it performed so ineptly that it helped W more than it hurt him. The media did not question the reasons given for going to war in Iraq until it was much too late. They accepted without question the idea that Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberson spoke for all Christians.
They helped create a perfect climate for Karl Rove – a very scary man -- to thrive.
But the American people are beginning to see through the miasma of fear and mendacity. They are beginning to ask questions. They are beginning to sense that things are terribly terribly wrong in the United States.
And the media is finally beginning to shine some light onto to all this. Even so, I think it will take a generation to undo the harm Karl’s work has done to our country.

We have a lot to do.


Anonymous said...

bRight on, Katie. My fear is that Karl Rove has left the White House at this time only to lend support to a new generation of political right-wing facism. Who will he stand behind? I ask myself. Jeb? The Mormon guy (whose name I block, but whose smug face reminds me so clearly of GWB). Someone else?

I doubt that Karl Rove has really left the scene...


Anonymous said...

Thanks, K - the key to this is the perverted use of fear by this administration. Fear of terrorists, fear of gays, fear of Hollywood, fear of liberals... they have succeeded in using fear to convince people to vote against their own economic interests - sadly too often in the name of 'good religion.' I dearly hope you are right that the media are waking up.
Fr. Craig

Mike Holmes said...

Katie, I just "re-discovered" your great writing after a number of years. As always, you've accurately described a man that, (along with W and Cheney) has done more harm to this country than Tricky Dick ever thought of doing. I want to read your older blogs so I can catch up on the world outside of this ultimate Red zone. P.S. Don't you think it's funny that the R's are now into red after using it as an evil connotation for Communists.