Monday, June 23, 2008

What made Rove great as a political director isn't much use now

(Updated below.)

(Hat-tip to Doctor Beyond for sending this item along, with the comment, "Isn't Rove describing the guy he got elected the last two times?")

ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Maybe my partisan filters are too firmly locked in place, but I can't imagine how anyone--even an Obama-hater or a Democrat-hater or a black-hater who was just looking for any excuse--could really see this when they look at Obama. Not that Obama is immune to unflattering caricature--but this simply doesn't fit. Not even close. The attempt to make it fit seems downright odd.

Country club? Martini? Snide? This guy?

As Doctor B notes, it's a much more recognizable sketch of Bush (except the drink is wrong).

This supports my original theory about Rove, which is that he isn't particularly smart or insightful, just that he had one single idea (break the mechanisms of government in order to make the Republicans the permanent ruling party for the next couple of generations) and absolutely no conscience whatsoever.

He didn't even come up with any plans for implementing his one single idea that a lot of other people couldn't have come up with too, and maybe did. The only real advantage he ever had was that, while other strategists might say, "Yeah, that would work, but it would be illegal, or at least do more harm than good," Rove didn't care.

That's great when you've got your hands directly on the levers of power (i.e., the levers inside Bush the ventriloquist's dummy). But when you're relegated to being an adviser or pundit, the complete absence of a conscience is still handy but not nearly as useful or important as being able to come up with ideas that are at least arguably popular. Rove was never interested in or capable of doing that.

Rove will become like Gingrich. Republican true-believers and the talking-heads shows will trot him out in tribute to how important he used to be, but no one will really listen to his advice anymore. This morning's breakfast remarks will be a case in point.

Update: Digby thinks Rove's remark was smarter than I do, that it's code-word racism (think: uppity) pitched at dog-whistle frequency for the base. I'm sticking with Ockham's Razor on this one: You have to assume fewer unseen things to conclude it was fairly dumb, not very clever. I think Digby probably had it right when she just called it "absurd." But I could be wrong--it is Digby.

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