Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dinner and Dancing With Karl Rove

It has not escaped my notice that Karl Rove announced his departure from the Bush White House while I was on my blogging hiatus, obviously hoping to somehow elude that scathing OPC takedown he so clearly deserves. Among the many notable aspects of his career, one thing I wanted to point out that has gone relatively unnoticed was how brilliant Rove was at playing the press like a blond-wood Fender Stratocaster, so skillfully that most of them probably don't even realize to this day that they've been played.

Rove was always a reporter's bestest buddy. Maybe the most striking thing to me about L'Affaire Plame was that Karl Rove took time out from his busy schedule running the country to counsel a reporter from Time magazine on a story that Karl felt had the possibility to fall apart on the poor fella. It wasn't spinning, it was just that, gosh darnit, Rove wanted Matt Cooper to get the best story he could.

Now, I think even the most ardent Bush supporter would have to admit that Rove (no, I'm not going to post a photo of him, as I am sick and tired of his fat jowls and burn-victim hair) is a ruthless thug, perfectly capable of lying and bullying and smearing in order to achieve the greater good, i.e., electoral victories for Republicans. There are stories going back to his earliest days of starting whisper campaigns accusing opponents of being pedophiles and drug abusers and lesbians. But do any of the "Farewell, Karl" stories describe his legacy as the greatest dirty trickster of all time? Of course not, because he's the reporter's pal. He's their buddy. How could a good guy, one who's always willing to help us get the story right, be a thoroughly dishonest goon?

Listen to esteemed Washington Post columnist David Broder:

Let me disclose my own bias in this matter. I like Karl Rove. In the days when he was operating from Austin, we had many long and rewarding conversations. I have eaten quail at his table and admired the splendid Hill Country landscape from the porch of the historic cabin Karl and his wife Darby found miles away and had carted to its present site on their land.

I wonder if Karl got around to discussing his plans for using federal prosecutors around the country to bring trumped-up phony-baloney election-fraud charges against Democrats shortly before Election Day, and fire any U.S. attorneys who wouldn't play ball. Probably not.

That's something, isn't it? Can you imagine a journalist writing that he admired John Edwards after spending evenings on his back patio enjoying succulent North Carolina barbecue? But somehow Rove got away with it. One of the people most responsible for degrading our political culture and turning national elections into knife fights is celebrated as a gentleman and a gracious host. Reporters sure are cheap dates.

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