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Tilting at Windmills

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August 13, 2009

THE ORIGINAL KING OF IRONY KEEPS HIS CROWN.... Karl Rove devoted his Wall Street Journal column today to accusing the Obama White House of "Extended Campaign Syndrome." Seriously.

The scandal-plagued Republican strategist added, "In an election, campaign staffers are often just trying to survive until the next week or the next primary. They cut corners because they are fatigued or under pressure. They can be purposely combative and even portray critics as enemies. Carrying this mindset into the White House can get you into trouble, a lesson the Obama administration is now learning the hard way."

It's hard not to chuckle at the sight of Karl Rove accusing anyone of embracing a "permanent campaign." Zaid Jilani explained today:

The former Bush advisor's attack on Obama is ironic, considering Rove's own role in creating a divisive "permanent campaign" attitude in the previous White House.

Former Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan wrote in his 2008 book What Happened that "Karl Rove did not create the excesses of the permanent campaign. Rather, the excesses of the permanent campaign created Karl Rove." As the Washington Post notes, Rove's 2003 efforts to promote political appointments and direct federal funding to support "Bush's reelection agenda" amounted to "a permanent campaign that was an integral part of his strategy to establish Republican electoral dominance."

Though Rove decries White House "efforts to divide Americans" today, when he served as Bush's Deputy Chief-of-Staff he did just that.

It's quite a pattern Rove is following. Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he's accusing Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted " political events, so he's accusing Obama of relying on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted" political events. Rove looked at every policy issue "from a political perspective," so he's accusing Obama of looking at every policy issue "from a political perspective."

It's hard to launch political attacks that are ironic, hypocritical, and examples of projection, all at the same time, but Rove is a rare talent.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

I don't think it's difficult for them to project. In fact I would consider that a defining characteristic of conservative arguments.

Posted by: Pat on August 13, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes - projection, projection, projection. But whatever you call it, care to deny these whack jobs do NOT create their own reality?

Posted by: Chopin on August 13, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

...but Rove is a rare talent.

Hopefully we'll get to see that his real rare talent is as a prison bitch.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 13, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, one of Obama's best accomplishments, one he does not get credit for, is to have freed the country from the unreasoning climate of fear engendered by Rove and Bush for political control.
The color-coded alerts don't seem to happen anymore now that Rove has no use for them.

Posted by: bob h on August 13, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

My only comment is a question. Yes it is hypocritical & ironic, but is he wrong? The scare tactics are BS, so he loses there. The campaign stop, well not as badly scripted as Bush, but still a lot of support. As for the permanent campaign, it's true, but that's the way politics works now. Rove set up the system, but Obama seems to be following it.

Posted by: jescajeda on August 13, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why is anyone surprised? The Rove playbook is to attack from your weakness. IN other words, with a draft dodging AWOL pilot, attack the war hero.

With a liar, attack the other guy as a liar.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Posted by: Buggy Ding Dong on August 13, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait until Rove accuses Obama of being a pudgy, pasty-faced, balding white guy. I figure that's about the only thing left.

Posted by: Chesire11 on August 13, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

The best defense is a good offense.

Never appologize, never explain.

When in doubt, lie.

As I write this, "Disgraced former speaker Newt" is on C-SPAN 2, bloviating/lying/spinning. in other words doing all of the above. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 13, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Is not obvious by now? Rove is projecting. Just about every commentary he has uttered the last few months represent something he did and now he feels the other side is doing- he might be right about half the time- but his comments are strident and not particularly insightful. To him, politics are static and he becomes staler and staler as time goes by.

Posted by: Raoul on August 13, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Please drop the word "ironic" when talking about anything Karl Rove says or does. There is nothing "ironic" about a moron with no self-awareness whatsoever going around publicly displaying his moron's lack of self-awareness.

Posted by: TCinLA on August 13, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

When I listen to Rove the word "projection" keeps swimming through my mind.

By the way, why hasn't he been indicted for his role in the US attorney firings. It is pretty darn clear that he was doing his dead level best to obstruct justice and to use the justice department to advance the Republican political agenda.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 13, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans know that the way to win is to attack your opponent for your own weakness. Either it sticks and they win, or the public grows tired and thinks that everyone is that way. It's a great strategy and Democrats fall for it every time. They have not figured out how to defeat it.

Posted by: mperloe on August 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Rove is getting kinda boring. Every column is the same: some version of accusing Obama of sins Rove made famous. Chesire11 is right, next it'll be about being a pudgy, angry white guy. You'd think that, since he has the luxury of not languishing in jail where he belongs (yet), he'd have time to come up with some new schtick.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

As for the permanent campaign, it's true, but that's the way politics works now. Rove set up the system, but Obama seems to be following it.

Presidents have always campaigned in support of big policy agenda items. Nothing new there; that was not an innovation of the Bush White House, nor does it indicate a "permanent campaign."

Do we hear more about it now, does it seem ever-present? Yes...but what would you expect when there are multiple cable news channels and the internet? The fight for the Civil Rights Act was, I'm sure, much more contentious than anything that's going on now, but it was all played out behind the scenes (in terms of political horse-trading and arm-twisting). You'd read about the latest developments in the morning paper or perhaps there would be a report on the evening news. That was about it.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 13, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Confuse us say: Never accuse Karl Rove of anything you don't want to be accused of yourself. He's the mirror man. Didn't he also work for the Teflon president back in the day?

Posted by: anonymous on August 13, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my Freedom, but who gives a shit what this shameful little fuckball says?

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on August 13, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Rove practices evil politics 101: Accuse your adversaries of your worst characteristics.

Then we your adversaries prosecute you, or politically attack you, you claim its "all politics"...or "they are covering up their own failings".

And our pathetic news media reports those quotes because they can never, ever, call a liar a liar.

Posted by: jvoe on August 13, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Projection, shmojection. Spare me the pop psychology.

Karl Rove is a vicious, conscienceless liar.

He's also lazy, which is why he has adopted this repetitive, rather mechanical shtick to fill up his regular columns. If he even bothers writing them. He probably dictated the basic formula to some flunky ghost writer who actually types them up.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 13, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

There are some arguments and conversations that are effectively and abruptly ended when certain phrases are uttered, at least with respect to the capability for rational discourse and/or honest debate. Examples of such phrases are:

--"The Earth is 3000 years old...."

--"Democrats don't support the troops, and here's why..."

--"But there's this 'death panel'..."

Another one to add to the list is:

--"Karl Rove says..."

Posted by: terraformer on August 13, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Long ago GWB nicknamed Rove "turd blossom" for the real Texas flower that grows out of an actual heap of bullsh*t.

For Rove and his ilk, the end (winning and staying in power) always justifies the means. Why sling mud at your opponents when you can pull them down into the sewer? These will never be decent, honorable people, and they ruin anyone who treats them so. The only appropriate response is to turn the light of truth on their tactics and their lies. Expose them.

Posted by: FC on August 13, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The question isn't whether Karl Rove is full of crap, or why, but why large and "respectable" media outlets keep handing him a microphone. As far as I'm concerned, the guy should be considered so discredited that he's not worthy of pushing a broom at your local DPW garage.

Posted by: Jorge on August 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Rove is projecting. That would imply it's unconscious. And it isn't merely attacking your opponents with your weaknesses. He realizes few things drive liberals as crazy as this sort of "ironic" accusation. On the one hand, he likes to keep liberals rattled in the hopes it will reduce their effectiveness. On the other hand, nothing amuses him as much as others' impotent rage at his misbehavior. Being unburdened by a conscience, there's no downside in this for him.

Posted by: David Houghton on August 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Funnier yet coming the week it was confirmed he was up to his eyeballs in the firing of Republican U.S. Attorneys, appointed by George W. Bush in the first place, who were unwilling to abuse their offices to bring transparently trumped-up prosecutions.

Posted by: kth on August 13, 2009 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

As you live, so you judge.

Posted by: joekool on August 13, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Television media outlets have Rove on because 1. he is infamous (even better than famous) and 2. to counteract the (bogus) charge of "liberal bias". Which is perfectly in line with their business of infotainment.

If it's hard news reported by professional journalists that you're after, for the most part you'll have to look elsewhere. In an age of deregulated media, brutal competition for ratings breeds the lowest common denominator in terms of programming.

Posted by: FC on August 13, 2009 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Accuse your opponent of things that you are guilty of yourself and attack them on what seems to be their strengths - that is the Rovian way. Democrats should learn from this vile criminal.

Posted by: Sam Simple on August 13, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think the best strategy is not to attack Rove directly, but to attack the media organizations/personalities that give credence to what he says.

Rove insulates himself too effectively for direct confrontations and the MSM is more than happy to protect him, so you have to attack the outer defenses (the MSM) before you can get to him.

Posted by: bdop4 on August 13, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Next thing you know, he'll accuse Obama of being a short, fat, bald, porcine white guy.

Posted by: Bret on August 13, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Next thing you know, he'll accuse Obama of being a short, fat, bald, porcine white guy.

...and the media will just say that Obama denies the charges without offering any proof, failing to satisfy his critics.

Posted by: qwerty on August 13, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Pardon my Freedom, but... ...[expletive]..."
Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on August 13, 2009 at 1:08 PM |

Wow -- that is a brilliant catchphrase (at least three ways; probably more that I just haven't spotted yet).
First use I've seen of it anywhere, and I read a fair number of blogs (usual suspects, plus a coupla feminist and science blogs).
You invented it, CT?

Posted by: smartalek on August 13, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The man's headed to prison. It's kind of fascinating that people keep paying him money for his opinion.

Posted by: Sempringham on August 13, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Good point, too frequently utterly ignored.

Posted by: WebWatcher on January 30, 2011 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK
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