Thursday, August 16, 2007

Texans Weigh in on Karl Rove

In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Rove biographer James Moore was asked what it would mean to the Bush presidency to lose the advisor dubbed "Bush's brain." "I say he goes from a lame duck to lamebrain." Some of us might ask what's new?

Around the Lone Star State, fellow Texans are contemplating the return of Karl Rove with remembrances of previous political wars gone by. At BOR, Glenn Smith muses on the gullibility of the press coverage and asks why media had such an infatuation with Karl Rove?

In any case, I had over the years many occasions to discuss Rove with reporters who had been my colleagues. In Texas, they shared my dislike for him, my suspicions about his character and morality. That changed when he could control their access to Bush during the 2000 campaign. For once, Texas reporters were at the front of the bus. People from around the world sought their opinions of Bush and his team. They were on television. And their insights were important. But Rove controlled the seats on the bus, and if they went too far, they'd lose those seats. These are hard-bitten journalists. I still admire every one of them. But, they are human beings, and they had a job to do. One of my early colleagues, Jim Moore, joined Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater in writing two Rove exposes. Of course, my friend Molly Ivins saw through Rove from the beginning too. Bless them.

But apparently not everyone in the press was seduced by the "boy genius". The Seattle Times issued a reprimand to its reporters for cheering in the newsroom upon announcement of Rove's resignation. But this was crunchy Seattle after all, where the questionable charm of an arrogant, Machiavellian like Rove, whose presidential nickname refers to a flower that grows on cow dung, might be less likely to seduce.

Actually, you don't have to be a librul or even a Democrat to harbor some resentment toward Rove. From the Joshua Green article in this month's Atlantic, comes this quote from Dick Armey.
Dick Armey, the House Republican majority leader when Bush took office (and no more a shrinking violet than DeLay), told me a story that captures the exquisite pettiness of most members of Congress and the arrogance that made Bush and Rove so inept at handling them. "For all the years he was president," Army told me, "Bill Clinton and I had a little thing we'd do where every time I went to the White House, I would take the little name tag they give you and pass it to the president, who, without saying a word, would sign and date it. Bill Clinton and I didn't like each other. He said I was his least favorite member of Congress. But he knew that when I left his office, the first schoolkid I came across would be given that card, and some kid who had come to Washington with his mama would go home with the president's autograph. I think Clinton thought it was a nice thing to do for some kid, and he was happy to do it." Armey said that when he went to his first meeting in the White House with President Bush, he explained the tradition with Clinton and asked the president if he would care to continue it. "Bush refused to sign the card. Rove, who was sitting across the table, said, 'It would probably wind up on eBay," Armey continued. "Do I give a damn? No. But can you imagine refusing a simple request like that with an insult? It's stupid. From the point of view of your own self-interest, it's stupid. I was from Texas, and I was the majority leader. If my expectations of civility and collegiality were disappointed, what do you think it was like for the rest of the congressmen they dealt with? The Bush White House was tone-deaf to the normal courtesies of the office......"

When Bush revived immigration reform this past spring and let it be known that Rove would not take part in the negotiations, the president seemed to have belatedly grasped a basic truth about congressional relations that Armey summed up for me like this: "You can't call her ugly all year and expect her to go to the prom with you."
Gotta love those Texas aphorisms. Speaking of which, here's a preview of Bill Moyer's Journal to air on Friday.
Rove is riding out of Dodge city as the posse rides in. At his press conference this week he asked God to bless the president and the country, even as reports were circulating that he himself had confessed to friends his own agnosticism; he wished he could believe, but he cannot. That kind of intellectual honesty is to be admired, but you have to wonder how all those folks on the Christian right must feel discovering they were used for partisan reasons by a skeptic, a secular manipulator. On his last play of the game all Karl Rove had to offer them was a hail mary pass, while telling himself there’s no one there to catch it.
Update: If Karl Rove's biggest concern right now is Bush's legacy, dreaminonempty at Daily Kos has a few maps to demonstrate how that might be playing out.

1 comment:

Rick Byrne said...

The Moyers Blog has posted a letter from Bill Moyers to Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, where Karl Rove was shown a clip of Moyers' comments about Rove's resignation. http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2007/08/response_to_my_fellow_texan.html