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Tilting at Windmills

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March 18, 2009

'POLITICALLY OBSESSED'.... Two weeks ago, Karl Rove argued on Fox News that the Obama White House is so overtly political, it considers every issue "from a political perspective." He added that Obama's team, like Bill Clinton's team, does everything "with a very keen eye towards the politics of the matter, not what was in the best interests of the country."

It was one of the most ironic things I've ever heard in my life. Greg Sargent reports today, however, that the argument is now officially part of the talking points for Republicans on the Hill.

A Republican sends over a new set of GOP talking points for House conservatives -- privately circulated this week to scores of GOP press secretaries on the Hill -- that blasts the Obama administration as "radical" and "reckless" and the "most politically obsessed White House in history."

Now, there's obviously a special kind of stupid at play here. But instead of delving into all of the many, many ways in which the Obama White House is anything but "radical" and "reckless," let's instead just focus on the notion that the president and his team are the "most politically obsessed White House in history."

There's obviously no objective measurement for something like this, but I'm hard pressed to imagine how Republicans can back up this charge as it relates to Obama. Has he shifted positions on issues based on polls? Has he failed to reach out to those with whom he disagrees? Has he politicized any government agencies or systems? If the president and his team are "politically obsessed," they're hiding it well.

Which leads us to the president's immediate predecessor, who didn't hide it well. The most politically obsessed White House in history," is probably the one described by a top Bush advisor this way, "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." If Republican lawmakers are really looking for a White House obsessed with politics, they should have looked at the presidential team they carried water for over the last eight years -- it's the one that managed to politicize every aspect of the federal government.

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Comments

C'mon!

This is just standard Republican reflection. They've been doing this for DECADES - accusing their opponents of what they, themselves have either done or are currently doing.

The only disturbing part is how many people are still surprised.

Posted by: Zandru on March 18, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have no programs, no agenda, no vision for the future, no decency, no shame, nothing. So what do they do? Just invent a smear, repeat it every chance you get, and wait for the MSM to pick it up. I'm assuming that's already happened.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 18, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Rove having a discussion with Rove:

Rove: Karl, what do you think I could possibly say that would get a rise out of the left-wing blogosphere? They've pretty much exhausted the well of outrage about me.

Rove: Well, why not accuse Obama of having "the most politically obsessed White House in history". That'll blow their minds.

Rove: Ha.

Rove: Ha, Ha.

Posted by: MattF on March 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

This from The Dick.

Oh, how could I have failed to see it? Thanks, Dick, for helping me see the light. How could I have been so wrong about President Obama?

Puh-leeez! No one but knuckle-draggers and fairy-tale believers are going to buy that crap.

Posted by: independent thinker on March 18, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

As I wrote two weeks ago when Rove first spouted this, this message is classically 'Rovian':

Accuse others of that which you do (did), and hope that no one recognizes what you're doing.

Thing is, most of the wired-for-Republicans media won't deign to point this out, much less seek to provide viewers/listeners with examples of Obama et al. doing this.

Posted by: terraformer on March 18, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Every day there is a new reflective item. Yesterday it was the vast liberal conspiracy thing, today it's this.

Posted by: howie on March 18, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Now, there's obviously a special kind of stupid at play here."

There is nothing "stupid" about it. It is cunningly, ruthlessly dishonest and manipulative. It was no doubt crafted by highly-paid, highly-skilled propagandists and then fine-tuned with focus-group testing, and only deployed as a talking point by Rove when it had been shown to be effective.

The rank-and-file Ditto-Heads who slavishly, robotically repeat these talking points are idiots, but the people who create them are not. They know exactly what they are doing. And they have a pretty good record of success.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 18, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm rendered almost utterly speechless....All I can say is "you've got to be kidding"!

Posted by: whichwitch on March 18, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

They lie and the bought and paid for MSM picks it up and makes it the truth for the ignorant.

Posted by: SteveA on March 18, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to imagine why anyone would want to be a Republican right now, but here's a reason. According to their carefully built world-view, Republicans are never wrong. Don Imus said an amazing thing recently, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer: he said "It's somebody's fault." Guess who? Liberals who climbed on him after he said racist things! There's no room for irony in this world-view; there's only room for smugness. Thank god their numbers are shrinking as the cognitive dissonance reaches critical mass.

Posted by: Qalice on March 18, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly what Zandru said.

And I'll go further: how long until the Republicans start complaining that Obama is shredding the constitution by supporting illegal eavesdropping? By torturing?

They're already blaming the Obama administration of politicizing the Justice Department, right?


Posted by: gussie on March 18, 2009 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

A Republican sends over a new set of GOP talking points for House conservatives -- privately circulated this week to scores of GOP press secretaries on the Hill -- that blasts the Obama administration as "radical" and "reckless" and the "most politically obsessed White House in history."

Dick Nixon to the white courtesy phone, please...


Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Rove saw the Bush administration as going from staged photo-op to staged photo-op. This is like Jeffrey Dahmer joining the ASCPA.

Posted by: HL Mungo on March 18, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing "stupid" about it. It is cunningly, ruthlessly dishonest and manipulative

Agreed. In addition to pissing off people who know just how outrageous it is, Rove knows that these statements will gain some traction with the naive, politically dense Glenn Beck listener types.

Posted by: trex on March 18, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

This is just typical sociopathic Republican projection at work. It's absolutely aimed completely at their likewise sociopathic base. The sane 60% of the country just does a collective eye-roll and moves on.

Posted by: digitusmedius on March 18, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm?

So, the global warming stuff wasn't politicized during the past 8 years?

The firing of AGs was not politically motivated?

The cloaking of naked statues in DC (remember that nonsense?)

Rove needs to fade into the sunset rubbing his (not the one he's riding) very sore ass.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 18, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

...and look, he's got eleven comments already...or (yawn) TWELVE!

Posted by: Capt Kirk on March 18, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

It is still all kinds of stupid. Whether it is the people saying it or the people believing it.

Posted by: tanstaafl on March 18, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Are repubs getting their talking points from The Onion?

Posted by: JoeW on March 18, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

If you look back you will find that it is standard operating procedure for conservatives to inoculate themselves against virtually any criticism by accusing liberals and Democrats of the very same thing so that people just throw up their hands and say "both sides are equally guilty." There is a reason that Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh almost every day attack the mainstream press for their "liberal bias." And that is so they can continue their own slanted programing. Extremists need extremists on the other side to justify their own extremism.

It's vital though that we continue to call them on it otherwise we will lose our ability to recognize misbehavior when it comes. There is simply no doubt that the single greatest failing of the Rove-inspired Bush administration was the predominance of political considerations over sound policy. This had life and death consequences, for both the victims of Hurricane Katrina and our troops in Iraq. As Scott McClellen came to understand: the politicalization of the War in Iraq by Rove and Bush -- turning it into a wedge issue to use against Democrats -- made the war much harder to fight because it required that Bush deny all mistakes and "stay the course" in a failing strategy in order to prevent Democrats from criticizing his actions.

Posted by: Ted Frier on March 18, 2009 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Rove knows that these statements will gain some traction with the naive, politically dense Glenn Beck listener types.

Well, so does Glenn Beck. So "cunning" isn't exactly the word for a strategy crafted to appeal to the stupidest people on Earth.

Posted by: Jay B. on March 18, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, my lord, I hate those guys. I'm so, so sick of their games and their stupidity. They never were funny, but now they're just nauseating.

And here's the weird thing - they like the idea that they're pissing people off. They don't want to get back in power by widening their base. They want to win by vanquishing their 'enemies,' which would be people like me. They don't want me on their side - they want to squash me like a bug.

Stupid, stupid, stupid people. Did I mention that they're stupid?

Posted by: mcmama on March 18, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

There's obviously no objective measurement for something like this, but I'm hard pressed to imagine how Republicans can back up this charge as it relates to Obama.

I doubt they're worried about having to back it up. They know no one will call them on it.

Posted by: kc on March 18, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

It was one of the most ironic things I've ever heard in my life.

Look, there's nothing ironic about rank dishonesty. You know Rove is lying, and Rove knows you know he's lying, and yet he continues to lie to your face, because he actually gets off on the fact that he's lying to you and you know it and he knows he's not going to be punished for it. Developmentally he's like an eight year old -- he's lying for the sheer twisted pleasure of seeing how big a lie he can get away with.

So why keep linking to stories about Rove lying? He enjoys the outrage. It gets him hard. Why keep feeding him?

Posted by: Stefan on March 18, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair...

Has he shifted positions on issues based on polls?

While I dont dispute the central premise that the Bush admin was very highly politicized, this is one thing that I cant accuse them of. There are several instances when public opinion was very much against them, but they stuck to their positions. Often, I wish they had changed their positions, but they didnt.

I'm not saying that this is such a great thing about the Bush admin. Just that if you're using that as a metric for how politicized an administration is, that's one metric that the Bushies will score well on.

Posted by: TG Chicago on March 18, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

gussie said:

And I'll go further: how long until the Republicans start complaining that Obama is shredding the constitution by supporting illegal eavesdropping? By torturing?

The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned. I'll be joining them. Sure, all these things started under Bush and Republicans supported them then. So yeah, it will be hypocritical. But if Republican hypocrisy actually ends up doing something good for once, I'm not going to complain.

Posted by: TG Chicago on March 18, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

mcmama is right.

When you rule, instead of govern, there is, depending on how you look at it, either no need for politics (politics-as-strategy), or no need for anything other than politics (politics-as-tactics).

In the first case, everyone else is trying to answer the questions 'what kind of polity should we have, and how should we run it?', and your answer is to that question is already worked out -- we have no polity at all; just bellum omnium contra omnes at a sub-nation state level. Politics is unnecessary.

In the second instance, politics-as-tactics is the only politics necessary. Minute understanding of the alarm systems, guard routines, security measures of the bank you're trying to rob is vitally necessary, and always worth perfecting. Worrying about what sort of bank it is is only a distraction.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 18, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing "stupid" about it.

Absolutely. Rove is probably having a really good time coming up with and dispensing this stuff. He also probably amazes himself how easy it is, and how much he can get away with.

Posted by: qwerty on March 18, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Look at how they're trying to politicize the census, for ex. Pure Chicago.

Posted by: Luther on March 18, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

It was one of the most ironic things I've ever heard in my life.

There was nothing ironic about Rove's statement. It was hypocritical, not ironic.

Posted by: Rob Mac on March 18, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

This is standard republican BS. One of the things they do well, besides ruining the economy and starting wars, is turn reality on its head. It's a rabbit hole all the way down. Rove is the hare and Palin is the Queen of Hearts.

Posted by: CDW on March 18, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove argued on Fox News that the Obama White House is so overtly political, it considers every issue "from a political perspective.

So what?!?

If we wanted every issue to be decided from an economic perspective, we'd elect an economist. We elect politicians because we believe they can marshal the political support to get their agenda through Congress. We don't elect them to wage partisan witch hunts using the power of the Justice Department.

Posted by: John Henry on March 18, 2009 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I will accept that this is the most political white house ever when Obama starts a war in order to win an election, killing more Americans than 9/11 and costing the American people trillions of dollars.

Oops. Better make the the equally most political white house ever.

Posted by: ally on March 19, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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