As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rove On Arrogance

Karl Rove kicks off the opening salvo in the quadrennial "Question The Democrat's Patriotism" derby:

Are you surprised at how Obama exploded?
You know, I want to be careful—I think we need to be careful about not getting carried away with a narrative that doesn't truly exist. Like the story this morning in The New York Times about "the Obamacans"—the Republicans who support Obama.

You don't buy that?
No. Do I buy that there are Republicans who support Obama? Sure, I do. But take a look at the last four polls on which there are cross tabs available. There are twice as many Democrats defecting to McCain as there are Republicans defecting to Obama. In the Fox poll, Obama takes 74 percent of Democrats and loses 18 to McCain. And McCain keeps 80 percent of Republicans and loses 10 to Obama. And in every one of the polls, it's nearly twice as many Democrats defect to McCain as Republicans defect to Obama. And against Clinton, it's three times as many. Know why? Well, there are a lot of different reasons why. There are Democrats, particularly blue-collar Democrats, who defect to McCain because they see McCain as a patriotic figure and they see Obama as an elitist who's looking down his nose at 'em. Which he is. That comment where he said, you know, "After 9/11, I didn't wear a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin"? Well, to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism. It's a statement of their patriotic love of the country. And for him to sit there and dismiss it as he did—

I think we all know what's coming next... all together now...

You're not wearing a flag pin, Karl.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But I respect those who consciously get up in the morning and put a flag lapel pin on.

I'd be thrilled if the Republicans decided to fight a War On People Who Don't Wear Lapel Pins fought by people who aren't wearing lapel pins themselves. Ionesco couldn't have come up with such an absurd scenario.

But let's look at this larger point, this depiction of Obama as an effete, out-of-touch elitist. Here's some more from Turdblossom's interview:

Do you see the elitist thing in other ways?
Obama is coolly detached and very arrogant. I think he's very smart and knows he's smart, but as a result doesn't do his homework.

Arrogant, ay? Well yes, if there's one thing that divides Democrats and Republicans, particularly Barack Obama and Karl Rove, it's arrogance.

Example #1:

After midterm election interviewer Robert Siegel stated that "many might consider you on the optimistic end of realism" regarding Republican hopes to retain both Houses in November, Rove suggested that the NPR host was biased.

"Not that you would be exhibiting a bias or anything like that," Rove said. "You're just making a comment."

"I'm looking at all the same polls that you're looking at every day," Seigel responded

"No you're not!" Rove exclaimed.

Rove said that he was reviewing 68 polls a week, and that "unlike the general public, I'm allowed to see the polls on the individual races," as opposed to public polls reported in the media.

"You may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally, but that do not impact the outcome," Rove said.

Rove claimed that the polls "add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House."

"You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math," Rove said. "I'm entitled to 'the' math."

Example #2:

We asked Mr. Rove if he would consider taking a fresh look at the science of global warming. Much to our dismay, he immediately got combative. And it went downhill from there.

We reminded the senior White House advisor that the US leads the world in global warming pollution and we are doing the least about it. Anger flaring, Mr. Rove immediately regurgitated the official Administration position on global warming which is that the US spends more on researching the causes than any other country [...]

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unfazed, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

Yes, it's OBAMA that's the arrogant one.

It's really like watching a Greek tragedy watching the Republicans. They ALWAYS project onto others the deficiencies in themselves. But the other thing they do is thrive on constant repetition. There is nothing different in this critique of Obama that we haven't heard in critiques of Al Gore and John Kerry. They reinforce back on themselves because they aren't critiques of individuals but Democrats generally. Rove is trying to get you to paint a picture of all Democrats as latte-sipping Volvo-drivers who aren't real Americans. In fact there isn't anyone less American than a political hack who views his President as a king who is unanswerable to his lowly subjects. Honestly I don't think these attacks on patriotism work anymore when the guy supposed to be the ultimate patriot has deceived us into an intractable war, ruined our international standing and emptied our Treasury.

But where this interview got fun is when Rove was asked about his role in the Siegelman railroading:

Let's talk about the last couple of scandals you've been involved in. Don Siegelman in Alabama [the Democratic governor whom Rove was recently accused of trying to sabotage by forcing U.S. attorneys to bring corruption charges against him prior to an election]. What happened?
[rolls his eyes] Will you do me a favor and go on Power Line (hilarious -ed.) and Google "Dana Jill Simpson" [the Republican lawyer who told 60 Minutes that Rove asked her to take a picture of Governor Siegelman cheating on his wife]? She's a complete lunatic. I've never met this woman. This woman was not involved in any campaign in which I was involved. I have yet to find anybody who knows her. And what the media has done on this… No one has read the 143-page deposition that she gave congressional investigators—143 pages. When she shows up to give her explanation of all this, do you know how many times my name appears? Zero times. Nobody checked!

Then how did this happen?
Because CBS is a shoddy operation. They said, "Hey, if we can say 'Karl Rove,' 'Siegelman,' that'll be good for ratings. Let's hype it. We'll put out a news release on Thursday and then promo the hell out of it on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday." And Scott Pelley—the question is, Did [60 Minutes correspondent] Scott Pelley say to this woman, "You say you met with him. Where? And you say that he gave you other assignments earlier. When did he begin giving you assignments, and what campaigns did you work with him in? What evidence? I mean, this woman, she said she met with him: Okay, you met with him—where? Did you fly to Washington?" Now she says that she talked to me on the phone and she's got phone records. Of calls to Washington and Virginia. But what's Virginia? I don't live in Virginia. And it's 2001. What is in Virginia? It's not the Bush headquarters; that was in Austin, Texas. What is in Virginia? So—but look, she's a loon.

Touchy, touchy. As you would expect from someone whose fingerprints are smeared all over the case. By the way 60 Minutes initially caved to pressure to kill the story and then reluctantly aired it on the same night as the Oscars, so I'm not sure it was a ratings bonanza they were after.

Rove is trying a classic Chewbacca defense, going personal on Dana Jill Simpson to muddy the waters. It's what he does - personal attacks are the only ones that interest him. But in 2006 he should have recognized that his political moment was over. I'm hardly afraid of a guy who attacks Obama for not wearing a flag lapel pin when he isn't wearing one himself. If that's the best he's got he ought to go back to superior court judge campaigns in Alabama.

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