Tuesday, November 8, 2005

The Karl Rove Dream

According to the online magazine, Slate, Karl Rove's dream was to reshape American politics by creating a durable Republican majority.


I understand that and it certainly doesn’t make Karl a monster to want to leave a legacy behind him of having truly made his party dominant.  Particularly by a method that is uniquely his. A hell of a lot of people have shared that dream in our convoluted American political past.


Karlrove2_1Most of us who are interested in politics adamantly argue our side of issues and disparage anyone who dares to support the other side.  It’s what makes political or religious argument such a no-no in thin-skinned segments of society like family.  It’s also what makes me love guys like Bill Buckley and Gore Vidal, both of whom can so elegantly argue their political views as to never raise either their voices or a sweat.  They make Rush Limbaugh and his neotalk-radio look-alikes seem empty-headed cretins by comparison.


Which of course they are, but that’s not my point.


My point is that America has little patience with any durable political majority.  Majorities go bad faster in our country than fish in the sun and by example, we have a fifty year period of Democrat control of the Congress to thank for failed policies in both social issues and balanced budgets.


So, we went conservative for eight years of Ronnie Reagan and four more of the first George Bush.  That brought us failed social policy (again) along with skyrocketing advances in the national debt, so we threw the rascals out, along with their “contract with America” and hired Bill Clinton. Whether Bill was a savior sacrificed on the alter of partisan politics or the most dangerous president in memory who finally got what he deserved, is an issue that will no doubt continue to sell mugs of coffee and plates of doughnuts at the Uptown CafĂ©.


After Clinton, politics became so acrimonious that we gave up the vote and settled instead for letting the Supreme Court decide who would lead us.  Messy, all that counting of ballots when you can instead let the striped-shirt boys argue their inarguable case before an insufferable bench.


Anyway, like him or not, the Court seated George the Second (second in the family, second in the vote count, second in the hearts of his countrymen) and the strategy that got him seated is what Karl Rove wants to cast in bronze.


Politics under Karl has become so painfully negative and lie-based, so excruciatingly reliant on character assassination that it's unlikely to hold up for three more years, much less become a legacy.  Our country will accept a candidate who respects his opponent but declares him wrong.  It will embrace a campaigner who fights an issue-based race and appeals to the logic of his argument.  But I think America’s had all it can take of smear tactics and the machine-gun pace of accusations that come too fast to be refuted, have nothing to do with issues and lock an opponent into a defensive position. That’s a Karl Rove trademark, an invention that is absolutely his.


It works, or at least it has worked up until now.  One day a John McCain, or someone like him, will turn that technique on its ear, exposing the false-accuser (who hides behind a smile and an opaque screen of deniability) for what he is; a demagogue.  Sludge campaigns brand their fast-and-loose candidates as unworthy of consideration for any elected office, much less that of President of the United States.


We will see the last of Karl, indictment or no indictment.  The Rove template will not work in the long run even though it's been shown to be effective, because Americans tire of everything and they will tire of character-assassination as well. Rove will go the same way as Reality-TV shows, because neither of them is authentic reality. 


The antidote to Rove's political virus will be found far quicker than a vaccination for bird flue, possibly as soon as next year's mid-term elections.  It may not earn a Nobel Prize for medicine, but it will infuse a weary and discouraged electorate with confidence that they survived a contagion of memorable hysteria and madness.  We got over Joe McCarthy and we will get over Karl.


What Karl would make a dream will dissipate and be remembered as nothing more than a nightmare.
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See Taking My Country Personally on my personal web site.