Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 7, 2010

THE ORIGINAL KING OF IRONY LIVES ON.... I've long marveled at Karl Rove's borderline-pathological ability to identify some of his own ugliest, most malicious qualities, and then project them onto those Democrats he hates most.

Take today, for example. Rove uses one of his many major media venues to whine that Democrats and the Obama White House are just too mean when it comes to campaigning. As his Wall Street Journal column insisted, the president and his team are guilty of adding "arsenic to the nation's political well," with "assaults" Rove predicts "will fail, even backfire."

There was no evidence he was kidding. Karl Rove is accusing Dems of undermining American politics with nasty campaign attacks. The man who helped pioneer modern campaign viciousness wants Republicans to think of President Obama and congressional Democrats as big meanies.

Before you just shake your head at the sheer chutzpah it takes to spew such nonsense, note this Josh Green classic from a few years ago, documenting Rove's routine reliance on "unscrupulous tactics -- some of them breathtaking -- as a matter of course," which Jon Chait flagged this morning.

A typical instance occurred in the hard-fought 1996 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court between Rove's client, Harold See, then a University of Alabama law professor, and the Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Ingram. According to someone who worked for him, Rove, dissatisfied with the campaign's progress, had flyers printed up -- absent any trace of who was behind them -- viciously attacking See and his family. "We were trying to craft a message to reach some of the blue-collar, lower-middle-class people," the staffer says. "You'd roll it up, put a rubber band around it, and paperboy it at houses late at night. I was told, 'Do not hand it to anybody, do not tell anybody who you're with, and if you can, borrow a car that doesn't have your tags.' So I borrowed a buddy's car [and drove] down the middle of the street … I had Hefty bags stuffed full of these rolled-up pamphlets, and I'd cruise the designated neighborhoods, throwing these things out with both hands and literally driving with my knees." ... See won the race.

Some of Rove's darker tactics cut even closer to the bone. One constant throughout his career is the prevalence of whisper campaigns against opponents. The 2000 primary campaign, for example, featured a widely disseminated rumor that John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, had betrayed his country under interrogation and been rendered mentally unfit for office. More often a Rove campaign questions an opponent's sexual orientation. Bush's 1994 race against Ann Richards featured a rumor that she was a lesbian.

There was the Republican consultant whose reputation Rove reportedly sullied in order to get more clients. There was the Alabama judicial nominee who had a background working with troubled kids, who Rove reportedly labeled a pedophile.

Sure, by all means, Karl, lecture us some more from your high horse about the dangers of adding "arsenic to the nation's political well."

I'd just add, by the way, that this ties into a larger pattern -- Karl Rove has made a bad habit of blasting Obama and his team for doing the exact same things Rove did.

Rove ran a White House that embraced a "permanent campaign," so he's accused the Obama team of embracing a "permanent campaign." Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he's accused Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted " political events, so he's accused Obama of relying on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted" political events. Rove looked at every policy issue "from a political perspective," so he's accused Obama of looking at every policy issue "from a political perspective." Rove snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan, so he's accused Obama of snubbing snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan. Rove had a habit of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons, so he's accused Obama of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons. Rove questioned the motives of those with whom he disagreed, so he's accused Obama of questioning the motives of those with whom he disagrees.

A lesser hack may find it difficult to launch political attacks that are ironic, wrong, hypocritical, and examples of projection, all at the same time, but Rove is a rare talent.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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I think his concern the Democrats' arsenic will kill the fecal coli bacteria he's dumping into the well.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on October 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

A fitting sucsessor to Lee Atwater, here's hoping Rove shares his mentor's fate, the sooner the better.

Posted by: BillFromPA on October 7, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

"...but Rove is a rare talent."
Stalin and Hitler would have revered him.
If there's a Hell, I think Satan will spend a good part of eternity washing Roves feet out of repect for a near equal.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 7, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

it's Rove's modus which is Classic Machiavelli.

Posted by: john m on October 7, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It sounds as if Mr. Rove is building a case to sue the Obama administration for copyright infringement.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on October 7, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Like many in politics, Rove has made a conscious decision that the ends justify the means. Unfortunately for the USA, the "end" that he envisions is polar opposite the ideals (we think) America stands for.

He's not The Brain. And he's no genius.

He's a nerdy little punk who discovered there is power in deception.

Mr. Rove is a small, worthless piece of shit.

Posted by: Rochester on October 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

the president and his team are guilty of adding "arsenic to the nation's political well," with "assaults" Rove predicts "will fail, even backfire."

This assumes, of course, that the corporate-controlled media pays the slightest attention to the White House's attempts to set the record straight after Republican lies.

It couldn't be that the well was already poisoned by the way Republicans can't go a single day without comparing Obama and his administration to Hitler and the Nazis, could it?

Posted by: SteveT on October 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

projection: A defense mechanism, operating unconsciously, in which what is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed (projected) to others.

From the DSM-IV:
Perceiving and reacting to unacceptable inner impulses and their derivatives as though they were outside the self. On a psychotic level, this defense mechanism takes the form of frank delusions about external reality (usually persecutory) and includes both perception of one's own feelings in another and subsequent acting on the perception (psychotic paranoid delusions). The impulses may derive from the id or the superego (hallucinated recriminations) but may undergo transformation in the process. Thus, according to Freud's analysis of paranoid projections, homosexual libidinal impulses are transformed into hatred and then projected onto the object of the unacceptable homosexual impulse.

Right wingism is, indeed, a mental illness.

Posted by: digitusmedius on October 7, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me again why this guy isn't in prison?

Posted by: ckelly on October 7, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Does anybody like him?

Bush's nickname for him, after all, was 'Turdblossom'.

Posted by: Lance on October 7, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Guy needs a dirt nap, seriously.. Did I mention that Rove is a gay, coprophilic pedophile? Oh yes he is!

Posted by: Trollop on October 7, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Rove is a small, worthless piece of shit.

Actually I'd characterize him as 20 lbs of shit stuffed in an 8 ib package.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on October 7, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to see someone, with a flash drive loaded with Karl Rove Classics, challenge him to view his past handiwork as juxtaposed to whatever he is criticizing. Live in front of the camera on national TV.

He would shit his pants.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 7, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad for Rove that Obama isn't Jewish, because then the poisoning-the-well slur would be that much more awesome!

Posted by: Half Elf on October 7, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

And let's not forget one of Rover's finest hours: in the 2000 SC primary, when he spread rumors that the dark-skinned child the McCains adopted from Bangladesh was, in fact, John McCain's African-American love child.

Posted by: dalloway on October 7, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

You all may not agree with me, for I'm but a lowly sinner. But as far as I'm concerned, what Rove is engaging in is NOT irony. It's just brazen douchebaggery. It'd be "ironic" if Rove weren't doing it intentionally. Rick Sanchez was being ironic when he claimed Jon Stewart was a bigot, just like those Jews who aren't REALLY an oppressed minority that run the media (and if it turns out that he was indeed fired by Jews, I'd suppose that would count as irony as well). But Rove knows what he's doing. I'll write it again: ROVE KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 7, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Is it really true that Carl Rove is a child molester?

Posted by: edo on October 7, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Did you ever read the story about how he bugged his own office?

Posted by: Stu on October 7, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

What this amounts to is those without empathy, without shame (Rove, etal) cynically using shame and guilt against those of us who still have these qualities in order to 'keep us in line.'

Posted by: JWK on October 7, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove is a propagandist! He knows that lies work, the bigger the lie the better. So call the media biased toward "liberals" then label Fox News "Fair and Balanced." That's a lie, one intended to distract people from what they're really doing. Calling him an air head or uniformed no where near describes what he and his co-conspirators are up to.

Posted by: Robert Abbott on October 7, 2010 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

My theory is that Karl Rove regards this mortal plane as an audition for his real goal: managing Richard Nixon's campaign for President of Hell.

Of course, by the time Rove gets there, it may be a re-election campaign. The political party that nominated Nixon five times may well have achieved majority party status there by now.

Posted by: John in Nashville on October 8, 2010 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman on Tuesday rescinded a Clinton administration decision that would have significantly reduced the amount of arsenic allowed in the nation's drinking water.
If you aren't careful your actions will turn around and bite you in the ass. Posted by: veblen on October 8, 2010 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yes Karl uses the same type of attitude we used to complain about, "The End Justifies the Means" being the backbone of the communist structure. Now America and especially Karl, R. Reagan, The Bushs', use(d) this philosophy. Now we are more like the commies than ever and with the meanness of Stalin and Lenin all rolled into one personality.

Posted by: James Woodruff on October 8, 2010 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Now this is what I mean a great blog. I enjoy your article very much.

Posted by: Harriette Buchberger on March 19, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
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