Political Animal


February 09, 2013 1:23 PM Tea Party Hatin’ on Rove

By Adele Stan

Of all the intramural competitions on display in this great land of ours, none is quite so riveting as the burst of bile between Karl Rove and the self-appointed leaders of the Tea Party movement. The lay reader of political news is apt to see this row as one that began with the announcement of the creation of a new super PAC, designed to destroy Tea Party candidates running in Senate primaries, by Rove and his colleagues at American Crossroads — the ballyhooed super PAC that failed to win investors much return on their investment in the 2012 elections.

But the Rove v. Tea Party feud dates back long before Bush’s so-called brain deigned to take on the Tea Party with a PAC with a name that sounds remarkably like a Tea Party-affiliated operation: the Conservative Victory Project. (Note that former U.S. senator Jim DeMint’s PAC, known for launching primary candidates against so-called “establishment Republicans,” is called the Senate Conservatives Fund.)

Here’s a quote Richard Viguerie, a founder of the religious right, direct-mail fundraising guru, and self-styled Tea Party arbiter, from a press conference he convened the day after President Barack Obama won re-election:

In any logical universe, Republican…consultants such as Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Romney Senior Campaign Adviser Stuart Stephens and pollster Neil Neuhaus would never never be hired to run or consult on a national campaign again — and no one would give a dime to their ineffective super PACs, such as American Crossroads.
Mitt Romney’s loss was the death rattle of the establishment Republican Party. Far from signalling a rejection of the Tea Party or grassroots conservatives, the disaster of 2012 signals the beginning of the battle to take over the Republican Party and the opportunity to establish the GOP as the party of small government and constitutional conservatism.

On February 2, the New York Times reported the formation of Rove’s anti-Tea Party PAC.

Today brings word, via Politico, that Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella organization and network for local right-wing groups, will form a new super PAC, apparently designed to fight Rove’s super PAC, which is designed to fight not-quite-super Tea Party PACs such as the aforementioned Senate Conservatives Fund, and the bus-tour-wrangling Tea Party Express. (Are ya with me so far?)

And every day brings another salvo from Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ Web site, the latest focusing on Rove’s use of the word “hater” to describe L. Brent Bozell, a Viguerie ally and longtime right-wing operative. (CHQ’s biggest problem with the moniker seems to be that it comes from what it deems to be the liberal lexicon, apparently the repository for all African-American slang.)

Rove has clearly lost his touch at rallying his own troops. Perhaps he’s too distracted with his Judd hateration project, which involves running disparaging ads in Kentucky against an actress who may or may not run as a Democrat for the Bluegrass State’s U.S. Senate seat in 2014 — the seat currently held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Leave Ashley alone!)

But I digress.

For the Tea Party brand, which has been flagging as of late, the Rove attack is likely the best thing that’s happened since Ted Cruz.

Hating on Rove may well prove to be a fundraising bonanza for leaders of the Tea Party astroturf groups. Tea Party Express, as I reported for AlterNet, wasted no time jumping on the Rove super PAC news as a money-grubbing opportunity. ““We are under attack by Karl Rove,” read the subject line of a February “donate here” e-mail blast from TPE.

As Tea Party types waste no time pointing out, Rove’s track record in backing the “establishment Republicans” he claims to be more electable than those pesky Tea Partiers who win GOP primaries is not so great. American Crossroads’ backing of Josh Mandel in Ohio, George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Connie Mack in Florida, all Senate candidates — yielded nada. All of those seats were won by Democrats.

In fact, reports the Sunlight Foundation, of the $103.5 million spent by American Crossroads in the 2012 election cycle, only 1.29 percent of those funds achieved the desired results.

For Rove, marshalling his donors’ antipathy to the Tea Party — thanks to the Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock debacles — may be his best hope for a distraction from his failing record.


  • c u n d gulag on February 09, 2013 2:01 PM:

    I'm sure that as long as no stray bullets came their way, the neighbors of the Hatfields and the McCoys, greatly enjoyed their fueding.

    And has it occured to anyone, that the only successful candidate "Bush's Brain" ever ran nationally, was George W. Bush?
    And that even then, he only won ONE Presidential election via a plurality - and some probably hacked Electronic Voting Machines in a few key states like OH and NM?

    Maybe, in reality, George W. Bush was "Rove's Brain?"

    And, ain't that an amusing thought?

  • jjm on February 09, 2013 2:16 PM:

    I can't help thinking that the enormous outrage being voiced by emo-progs and "liberals" against the drones is an effort fueled quietly by the right/GOP to split the Democrats into their 'extreme' and 'moderate' wings. Won't work, but they sure seem to be trying.

  • Kathryn on February 09, 2013 2:27 PM:

    Yes I do believe it is past Rove"s sell by date but can't help but notice that his so called establishment candidates for Senate in 2012 were a bunch of losers too, just mildly, very mildly less nuts than the Tea Party entrants. Most of their candidates are such obvious light weights in the brains department. I don't count them out yet, but maybe the voters are catching on to the nonsense they repeat and repeat. One more faux outrage appearance by John Boehner might push me over the edge.

  • Adele on February 09, 2013 3:20 PM:

    I can assure you, jjm, that the anti-drone efforts of progressives are not driven by the right; they're driven by President Obama's embrace of a secretive and immoral program. Our nation has a Constitution that assures U.S. citizens, no matter how heinous their crimes, due process under the law. It does not grant the president the right to order executions of U.S. citizens.

    In regard to the use of drones against anti-U.S. warriors in Waziristan and such places, the killing of civilians during those drone strikes may very well have done America more harm than good.

  • aimai on February 09, 2013 3:29 PM:

    This is no more than a falling out among thieves as to who should get the biggest share of the money looted from the rubes. Rove raises his money by selling his skill (presumed) at handling the media and picking winners to get compliant bums (sic) into House and Senate Seats, or a majorly compliant bum into the white house. Viguerie's model is entirely different--he makes money lower down the food chain on sheer volume--he sells lots of stuff to the same cohort (voters) but he doesn't need or want their actual votes--he simply wants their zip code and their money. He doesn't have to pick "winners", he just has to shape the fund raising mailers in order to make money off the runners and the voters. Stirring up a little fight excitement between Rove's group of fundarising/vote raising hacks and Viguerie's just gives Viguerie's new mailing list suckers a little frisson of being near the center of power, of being necessary, of waging a huge war. And war is wha tmakes them hot and bothered enough to write checks.

  • Doug on February 09, 2013 6:00 PM:

    Adele, a question:
    How many drones have been used in countries where the police and/or military have control of all that country?
    The Old West idea, not unknown in the 1930s, of "Wanted: dead or alive" is, I think, one of the biggest reasons most people in this country are willing to cut the administration a whole lotta slack. Because, and I could be mistaken, it's my understanding that the drones have been used in areas where the local police and military often simply don't function, thus making the use of more standard procedures impossible. That's the "Old West" version.
    As for the 30s' gangsters, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that the average person, presuming he/she even thinks about it, looks on the use of drones as something akin to the shootouts that occurred when the police went after some gangsters. The problem with that analogy and possibly both, is that in the original cases, the suspect had a chance to surrender to the authorities, something completely lacking in a drone strike.
    My personal opinion is that before anyone is targetted with their own personal drone, there should be a trial, in absentia most likely, and thus providing a legal basis for the strike. However, we then run up against the fact that an awful lot (most?) of the evidence against anyone is going to be classified, at least to how it was obtained. My last connection with the Federal government and classified documents/activities was in the mid-1990s and I seriously doubt its attitude has gotten any less protective!
    So, as I've said before, how do we square the circle between safe-guarding this country and its' citizens against criminal activities originating outside our borders, whether or not those people are U.S. citizens, while maintaining a system of justice based on Constitutional rights and laws derived from that Constitution?
    As a final thought (to which there really is no answer available): how many proposed drone strikes have been cancelled because of lack of verifiable information on who/where? Such an answer wouldn't resolve the legal/Constitutional questions, but might put those same questions in a completely different perspective. I really don't know, though.

    As for the split between the TParty and Rovians, I'm all for it. Rove and HIS ilk are just the same as Akin or Mourdock, only with greater control over their mouths. Let 'em go after each other and be as vicious and dirty as possible. After all they ARE fighting over what Republicans hold most dear - money! The more they say about each other the sooner all but the most diehard of KoolAid drinkers will see that there's no difference between 'em.
    I prefer popcorn WITHOUT butter, thanks.

  • Cranky Observer on February 09, 2013 6:59 PM:

    = = = As for the 30s' gangsters, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that the average person, presuming he/she even thinks about it, looks on the use of drones as something akin to the shootouts that occurred when the police went after some gangsters. = = =

    Interesting to see that the members of the hard Radical Right who post here, and their enablers among the neoliberals, don't classify the ordinary everyday human beings who live in Pakistan, Yemen, etc as "person[s]". Good to know.


    night oncuru - 1st try

  • DRF on February 09, 2013 7:11 PM:

    Rove is a professional strategist, not a rouser of the troops. And, much as I hate to say it, as a professional, Rove is entirely correct in trying to raise money to fund more credible candidates for the GOP. Sure, his preferred picks didn't win in Ohio, Virginia,Wisconsin or Florida, but those were swing states which Obama won. The kind of candidates he's trying to prevent from getting nominated next time around were those in Missouri and Indiana, two seats the Republicans should have won in a cakewalk.

    Since Rove emerged on the national scene with GWB, his goal has been to build a bigger tent GOP. Obviously, that's in conflict with the DeMint/Tea Party belief that only purists need apply, but from the perspective of trying to win elections, Rove is obviously correct.

  • Charles Giacometti on February 09, 2013 8:00 PM:

    I fretted over this past election. If Romney had won, we would have had a very tough slog for this country, in every regard. But I knew if Obama won, it would be the end of the GOP. The haters would be seething, and they would become even more incoherent and extreme. At the end of the day, America doesn't like violent rhetoric or extremism.

    And young people, God bless them, have no interest in carrying the banner of the religious right. Even if they are religious, they don't tie their religious ideas to the hatred of others.

    When the Akins opened their mothers and the stenographers miraculously wrote down precisely what they said, America rejected the extremists resoundingly.

    Now in the aftermath, we are getting the growing extremism I envisioned, and it's getting worse, fast.

    The GOP is done. They will lose the House in 2016, and they will never win the House, the Senate, or the Presidency again.

    Good riddance.

  • Charles Giacometti on February 09, 2013 8:02 PM:

    Sorry, they will lose the house in 2014.

  • dweb on February 09, 2013 8:02 PM:

    Oh this cup of bitter brew has been roiling along for quite a while now.


    Here's Mike Huckabee pointing his right wing finger at the GOP establishment after Todd Aikin uttered his famous claims that rape victims won't get pregnant and the more "traditional" elements of the party (and it seems clear Huckabee here is aiming right at Rove) quickly tried to pull some strings behind the scenes and get Aikin to disappear. Huckabee fired off an e-mail to his followers saying:

    Who ordered this "Code Red" on Akin? There were talking point memos sent from the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggesting language to urge Akin to drop out.

    Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees.

    Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out.

    Money has changed hands to push him off the plank.

    It is disgraceful. From the spotlights of political offices and media perches, it may appear that the demand for Akinís head is universal in the party. I assure you it is not.
    There is a vast, but mostly quiet army of people who have an innate sense of fairness and don't like to see a fellow political pilgrim bullied. If Todd Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin. He made his mistake, but was man enough to admit it and apologize.

    I'm waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves.

    It wasn't just Todd Akin that was treated with contempt by the thinly veiled attack on Todd Akin. It was all the people who have faithfully knocked doors, made calls, and made sacrificial contributions to elect Republicans because we thought we were welcome in the party. Todd Akin owned his mistake. Who will step up and admit the effort being made to discredit Akin and apologize for the sleazy way it's been handled?

    End of quote from Huckabee's e-mail. The really right wing of the GOP already holds the traditionals in contempt as compromisers, not sufficiently conservative, and too ready to ignore what they believe should be the party's stances on everything from deficit spending to abortion to prayer in schools.

    Huckabee's rant just reinforces his followers' suspicions that the GOP establishment is trying to make them irrelevant and marginalize them. Add to that Boehner's reported vendetta against caucus members who didn't support his budget.

    It's a real donnybrook. It has been going on not just since the election, for at least a couple of years since the 2010 elections when the Tea Party thought it was in the driver's seat. And it is probably going to get a lot nastier as time moves forward.

    Not that that is a bad thing....

  • James M on February 10, 2013 1:51 AM:

    @Charles Giacometti on February 09, 2013 8:00 PM:

    "...But I knew if Obama won, it would be the end of the GOP. ...The GOP is done. They will lose the House in 2014(amended by commenter), and they will never win the House, the Senate, or the Presidency again.Good riddance."

    Elegantly stated and I couldn't agree more!The death of the GOP is long overdue and couldn't be better timed. Those guys have been 'running on empty' for way too long.In addition to their failed polices, the Republicans also lack any attractive candidates.

    Many years ago I watched a TV movie titled 'Young Churchill'. At the end of the film, after Churchill makes a big speech an older Liberal(?) MP tells Churchill (paraphrased) "You are a prisoner of your class, but you do have a 'certain something'". The only prominent GOPer now who appears to have that 'certain something', but as they are pointing out over on TPM, he seems to be in the process of self-destructing.

  • James M on February 10, 2013 1:55 AM:

    Whoops! The 'he' is Chris Christie".

  • Doug on February 10, 2013 9:02 PM:

    Cranky, might I suggest a course in reading comprehension? It's very difficult to conduct a discussion when one party doesn't comprehend what the other is saying/writing.