Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 6, 2009

THE MAYBERRY MACHIAVELLIS DISCOVER IRONY.... About a year ago, Karl Rove, criticizing this New York Times article, accused the paper of having "outed a CIA agent," which "obviously puts the CIA agent in danger." Rove added that disclosing the name of a CIA operative represents "a very callous view about our nation's security and interests."

It was one of the single most ironic things I've ever heard. And yet, Rove managed to take irony to new heights (or depths, depending on one's perspective) yesterday:

"[The Obama White House is engaged in] the same old style politics that we grew to really dislike in the 1990s, when the White House thought everything through from a political perspective, road-tested it by running polls and focus groups and did everything with a very keen eye towards the politics of the matter, not what was in the best interests of the country."

The Irony-O-Meter I keep on my desk just burst into flames.

Karl Rove is criticizing White House officials of investing too much energy in political considerations. Is it at least possible that Rove has become some kind of caricature intended to make Republicans look ridiculous?

I mean, really. Americans are not idiots. We know what kind of operation Rove ran in the West Wing. We remember what one top Bush policy advisor conceded: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything -- and I mean everything -- being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." We recognize the obvious truth that Rove personally "oversaw the politicization of nearly every aspect of Bush's federal government."

If Rove wants to be taken even a little seriously, he's doing to have to do better than this. Otherwise, the urge to point and laugh will be hard to resist.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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I don't know if Rove makes me want to laugh, cry, or both.

Posted by: Rabi on March 6, 2009 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

The United States Is In Deep Doodoo!

The following article was first written in 1998.


Imagine for a moment that someone inherits a farm. Let’s say that the farm has good topsoil, a good well, good breeding stock, good seed, and excellent farm equipment in good repair. Prior to passing into the control of the present owner the farm did a good business selling vegetables, meat, and dairy products to the local market, and it made a small profit. But let us suppose for a moment that the present owner of the farm doesn’t understand farming, or isn’t even really interested in learning. The present owner has no objection to standing around looking good, so he stays at the farm, standing in front of it, looking good to passers by. Of course, the bills still come in, so our farmer puts them on his credit card. When that bill comes due he uses another credit card, Then another. Pretty soon the interest payments alone are higher than his bills and the banks get nervous and call him. No problem. Our farmer sells the tractor, takes the money around to the various credit cards, the food store, the utilities, and pays off all his bills. Then he stands around in front of the farm looking good to passers-by, the lord of his domain.
Well, the bills still come in. Again the credit cards get loaded up. So, this time our farmer sells the harvester. Then later on, the cattle, then the chickens, then the seeds, then he leases the well to his neighbor and finally sells the top soil from his farm to another farm down the road whose soil is getting tired. The cash is taken around to the various creditors, the food store, the utilities, etc.

Now at this point, our farmer thinks everything is okay. The bills are paid, he has a little cash in his pocket, and everything is fine.

Of course, you know better. The farm simply does not exist any more; it’s just an empty lot with a few buildings, and soon they will be gone as well. The path from the farmer’s present condition to seizure of the property for unpaid taxes is a foregone conclusion, even if the farmer doesn’t look far enough ahead to see it.

Poor, dumb, stupid farmer.

That farmer is our government, and our business leaders.


(I would state that we have finally found our Ruby Slippers, exposed the Wizards of Oz and are wisely getting off the Yellow Brick Road!)

Posted by: angellight on March 6, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

karl rove has been in the political biz of
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
"i know you are but what am i?"
for a long long long long long time.
dumb shit works every time for a lot of people...

Posted by: neill on March 6, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

"If Rove wants to be taken even a little seriously.."

By whom? When he stops being taken very seriously anywhere outside of Left Blogostan, I'll maybe have a modicum of fate that this country is not completely full of cretins.

Posted by: jussumbody on March 6, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Never underestimate the brevity of the American Memory.

Or the cynicism of the American Politician . . .

Posted by: DAY on March 6, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove is such a Fuck Up.

I don't take him seriously and he's not only a liar, he's the laughing stock of a presidency that failed but won't admit it failed and whose 'supporters/automatons' won't admit to his lack of integrity and hypocrisy.

Posted by: QuestionEverything on March 6, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

I think Rove's implying that the political games of the 90's were being played by the Clinton administration is even more outrageous. As Joe Conason and Gene Lyon's book "The Hunting of the President" so ably documents, the Republicans started going after Bill Clinton in the late 80's(!)after Lee Atwater realized that Clinton was the Dem that stood the best chance of defeating Bush I. After Clinton was elected they went after him with one phony scandal after another, even accusing him and Hillary of murder, until they hit on Monica. (The only evidence for Whitewater came from the con man David Hale who had been caught embezzling a cool $2mil from the Small Business Administration.)

This was a clear attempt at a political coup and our media gleefully went along with it because they couldn't stand that a working class guy from Arkansas was smarter and more powerful than they - and more popular with the ladies. People really need to read Conason and Lyons book as well as those by Jeffrey Toobin's "A Vast Conspiracy" and David Brock's "Blinded by the Right". It is well past time that the public become aware of just how far the right wing is willing to go to regain power. After all they are likely to try their tactics again - they came close to working the last time.

Posted by: BernieO on March 6, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, YOU'RE smarter than this. This isn't irony. This is GLOATING. This is a murderer getting away with it, and he knows he got away with it, and he knows YOU KNOW he got away with it, but it's not enough to get away with it. He needs to remind you that he got away with murder, taunt you about it at every opportunity. This is O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It" book on a grander more horrific scale.

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 6, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Rove has laughed all the way to the bank with lucrative deals in the so-called liberal main stream media. He has thumbed his nose at any legal consequences for his criminal activity. Lacking a sense of irony is the least of his many faults.

Posted by: Winkandanod on March 6, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

The bottom line is Rove, and many of his cohorts, belong in jail. If the saying, "Nobody is above the law," is true (and I'm doubting that it is) he should be in jail.

Posted by: nisl on March 6, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Classic Karl Rove. Blame others for what you yourself do, thinking no one notices.

Rinse, repeat.

Posted by: terraformer on March 6, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Rove's goal is to damage the opposition. Period. He assumes that he can get away with saying anything that might do that, and that the media will be happy to give him a platform to say it. And so far, he's been right.

Posted by: MattF on March 6, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

I have no evidence that The Rovian years were ever ones in which the administration acted in the best interest of our country, rather, it is clear that the Rovian years were all about a government for the rich and nothing but the rich so help us god.

How is taking care of the wealth of the few at the expense of the many acting in the best interest of our country?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 6, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Every single thing Karl Rove says is projection.

Posted by: dk on March 6, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

He keeps getting the gigs. And his base, the folks who get their facts from Fox, will believe him implicitly. So no downside for him.

Perhaps when he's regularly mentioned on mainstream shows and in print as "Karl Rove, one of the lying Bush cronies who helped nearly destroy the nation"...

Posted by: paul on March 6, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this exactly what they did since College Republicans? Paint their sins onto their opponents? Squeal about it to the masses, and the poorly informed who know it's happening but not how, will attribute it to "the good guys". Just wait, soon people will believe it.

Posted by: Laura on March 6, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

BernieO @ 8:46am -- Yes. They are trying this again--the birth certificate flap is just one example. The fright wing won't ever give up.

Posted by: JayDenver on March 6, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Hasn't Rove's mantra always been, "It's all about the base"? This is just more of that. The shit he spews is not for the consumption of sane rational Americans. It's targeted at the 25%-ers. Same with closet-queen Limbaugh. They know damn good and well who their audience is; and it sure as hell ain't you and me.

Posted by: bikelib on March 6, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Americans are not idiots."

Wrong again - Steve. By and large, the amerikan voting public are idiots who have been convinced for the last 30 years to vote against their own economic interests.

Lies, and more lies, and bigger lies are the staple to Rovianism rethug politics.

When you have opinion pages today like the 'liberal' Washington Post, there is a constant cacophony of crap assaulting the senses of the amerikan voters. The objective of the rethugs is to promote confusion. When the publik is confused, they will more likely believe the constant stream of lies from the rethugs.

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 6, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Otherwise, the urge to point and laugh will be hard to resist."

Of course, amyone with a brain is pointing and laughing at this slimy asshole. My question is why anyone outside of the Fox Propaganda Network gives this schmuck one second of air time...is there any question that all he spews is lies and propagnada?????

How any news show has him on as a "commentator" or "analyst" is beyond me and only shows the pathetic nature of our media....apparently, too many media types still want to remain on good terms with this asshole.

Posted by: marty on March 6, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

When Rove sees everything through a political lens, it is like a hammer that sees every problem as a nail. Very simple, really.

Posted by: Markozilla on March 6, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

KKKarl is, has and will always be about 'attacking the other guys strength' and 'accusing the other guy of doing and being MORE of what HE himself is doing and being, while he denies that he is doing and being it'. That's his SOP, his MO, and his way of laughing at all the idiots who let him get away with whatever he wants (e.g., Outing a CIA agent, ignoring subpoenas, masterminding the illegal firing of US attorneys, ETC!) This guy is the ultimate douche bag tip, and the American public and politico/legal system just keep bending over.

Posted by: In What Respect Charlie? on March 6, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Slappy magoo is absolutely correct. The bottomless pit that is Karl Roves character is obvious to anybody who watched him operate his black magic in the last decade (some poor souls had to endure that grim fate a little longer and for a few it even went beyond watching).

Nonetheless, it is clear that on the political scene Karl Rove is not a goner. As long as he can appear on Fox or pen columns in the WSJ and spout his usual stuff without the 'serious' MSM boys and girls reflexively denouncing him and asking why he doesn't spend time behind bars, he has gotten away with murder.

Unfortunately, Steve is wrong: As regards Karl Rove, there is a significant bunch of idiots among Americans.

Posted by: SRW1 on March 6, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

The Big Lie. Go look it up. Rove, Gingrich and other right wingers are busily re-writing history and whitewashing past Republican sins because they can. When the entire Republican base gets all or most of its information from carefully controlled media sources like FOX News, the Christian Broadcasting Network, Wall Street Journal editorial page and Rush Limbaugh there is virtually no profit in telling the truth if it handicaps your side so long as these media outlets are willing to join you in the Big Lie. It's not called the conservative Echo Chamber for nothing.

Posted by: Ted Frier on March 6, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he is trying to get everyone to forget the last eight years, and the easiest way to do that is to paint Obama as worse than Clinton.

I think that is the new meme: worse than Clinton.

Posted by: tomj on March 6, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I think there is a great deal of truth in what SadOldVet said above, although your peculiar use of he letter K, IMHO, doesn't help your argument.

If there is one thing that I've learned from Bush & Co. it is that free market capitalism and democracy based on the rule of law, are not inviolate. The rule of law is pointless if there is no moral consensus on the limits of law. Markets are not self-correcting gyroscopes of cross-layered self-interest, but are subject to manipulation at fundamental levels by a few players. Simply put, our way of life and political institutions are not based on immutable principles that somehow have their basis in natural law, intuitively understood. Rather, they are the construct of social consensus. Our founding fathers were lucky, for one brief shining moment, there was general consensus about the broad goals of society and the purpose and nature of government. I don't believe this social consensus exists anymore. Republicans and Democrats increasingly believe in two irreconciable versions of America. (Hence the attempt by SadOldVet to change the spelling of the America he envisions offered by the Right). The Demographics favor that the Democrats version will win out.

I don't think I realized this fully until the Bush Presidency. It wasn't merely that Bush was a Republican, it was something more. I realized that if America truly was as Bush & Co. projected, I wanted nothing to do with America. There were better places to live (Denmark for one, which I love to visit.) My guess is that Republican's largely feel the same way. If Obama has his way, he truly will ruin their America.

I wonder if there will be such a thing as an American/Amerikan migration in our future.

Posted by: Scott F. on March 6, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

This is a Turdblossom Trademark. To attribute his cootie plagued politics to everyone else. In some not too distant future someone on Fixed Noise will proclaim that 'everybody does it' and use these ironic little pronouncements as proof. some of the inter-changeable walls of the echo chamber: Rove, FOX, Halperin, CNBC - The floor is Limbaugh and the ceiling is Pajamas Media/TV/Jonah/Red State. It's pretty amazing that Karl doesn't have his own show.

Posted by: bcinaz on March 6, 2009 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

When you say "Americans are not idiots" I do believe you are ignoring a whopping great swath of Americans who tune into FOXNEWS everyday. TONS of Americans are idiots, and will not even bother to scan their own memory of the past 16-18 years of Gingrich/Limbaugh/Rovian activities.

Now, the REST of us are not idiots, I will meet you there.

Posted by: LuceMDiffundo on March 6, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I fear that you've either become too polite, or that you don't understand irony.

This is projection, horseshit, hypocrisy, but it ain't irony.

Next you'll tell us that it's like ra-ai-ai-n on your wedding day :-)

Posted by: short fuse on March 6, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Is it at least possible that Rove has become some kind of caricature intended to make Republicans look ridiculous?"

No, Rove has become a Fox News "analyst" and a Wall Street Journal columnist, in which roles he is paid a lot of money to tell blatant, preposterous, despicable, malicious lies intended to make the Obama administration look bad.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 6, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK



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