There was a moment during his first US presidential campaign with George W. Bush that Karl Rove made a startling admission. “I run all of my campaigns as if people were watching television with the sound turned down,” he told me. And everything is a campaign for the president’s senior political and policy advisor. The race never ends for Rove. The Oval Office became another campaign headquarters and while the president strutted the deck of an aircraft carrier and told us the Iraq situation was under control, we watched the television from across the dinner table, warmed by the comforting images and the pleasing, muffled sound. Karl Rove never thought the American public was paying attention. And mostly, we were not.
Posts filed under 'Karl Articles'
“Right is still right even if nobody’s doing it.
And wrong is still wrong even if everybody’s doing it.”
Texas Ranger Credo
American democracy has acquired some odd conventions. Candidates and office holders appear to no longer formulate independent thought. Advisors keep them on message and guide their policies. President George W. Bush famously brags that he does not need a poll to tell him how to think. And he does not. He has Karl Rove, a political savant who runs nightly surveys and deconstructs the results to find helpful issues and opinions. And then the president knows how to think.
Judy’s Turn to Cry: How the New York Times and a Star Correspondent Led America to War – Published by Salon.com
When night raiders forced their way into the Iraqi home of Ahmad Chalabi, no one was able to readily determine the underlying causes. Was the Bush administration finally admitting it had been had by the former head of the Iraqi National Congress? Maybe the CIA had proved Chalabi was working with the Shi’a government in Iran, trafficking in American intelligence that would facilitate Chalabi’s rise to power through the Shi’a majority in Iraq after the U.S. had been neo-conned into deposing Saddam. Those considerations, however, are clouding over a more critical issue: how did American journalism, in particular the New York Times, get so easily manipulated by Chalabi and the Bush White House?
As international political powers seek Iran’s capitulation on nuclear weapons development, little notice is given to what the Americans and the British have done to create this crisis nor what steps the Israelis might eventually take to turn it profoundly more complicated. Iran’s antipathy toward the west did not spontaneously generate out of the crazed rhetoric of radical mullahs. Instead, it has been spurred by what Iranians perceive as a hypocrisy on the part of members of the world’s nuclear community, and the bumbled meddling of the US and UK in Iranian affairs for more than a half century. There is little doubt that Iran is dangerous. And it is even more certain America and Great Britain have helped to make it that way.
In Italy, there is a bust of Julius Caesar in Torlonia Museum that scholars have insisted depicts the great conqueror as a Christ-like icon. The resolute warrior’s face has been more compassionately composed and the oak wreath of the soter, or savior, slips low across his brow, hardly distinguishable from a thorny crown. As grand a general as Caesar was, though, he fought with no more moral purpose than to expand the glory of the empire. His deification was about art; not history. Caesar’s and, ultimately, even Rome’s undoing was that its armies drew blood without a righteous cause. A soldier must fight for something more eternal than the emperor’s reputation.
No one saw Karen Hughes’ transcendent moment with George W. Bush. Possibly, she had already crossed over from a communications consultant to confidante. None of us on the outside had any way of knowing; until a brief, late night phone call. While he was governor, Karen Hughes was the interface between George W. Bush and journalists. But she was already working her relationship with Bush, making every effort to evolve it into something beyond the daily grind with reporters.
There are times in which it is easy to be suspicious. We can get to that feeling fairly quickly if we even pay slight attention. I’ve been trying to get over this odd emotion for at least a year. I can’t find any rationale for letting it go, though I want desperately not to have these thoughts.
This week last year I was preparing for a trip to Ohio to conduct interviews and research for a new book I was writing. My airline tickets had been purchased on line and the morning of departure I went to the Internet to print out my boarding pass. I got a message that said, “Not Allowed.” Several subsequent tries failed. Surely, I thought, it’s just a glitch within the airline’s servers or software.
If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president’s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald. We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife.
“I run all my campaigns as if people were watching
television with the sound turned down.”
In political science 101 courses all across America, college professors are going back to textbooks and scratching their heads in wonderment. Even freshmen students saw the signs. Everyone knew what was about to happen on Election Day. Turnout was going to approach record numbers. And that’s always bad for incumbents and Republicans. The president’s right track figure was 43 percent and his job approval was below 50. No poll was giving him a majority of the popular vote. Undecideds, as they normally do, were expected to break 2 – 1 for the challenger. Millions of newly-registered voters were believed to be motivated by disenchantment with the president. The nation was also involved in a controversial war. As a case study, a priori evidence pointed toward a potential landslide for John Kerry or, at least, a comfortable margin. None of this, though, considered Karl Rove.
“A lie never lives to be old.”
There is a hoary Texas aphorism that must be striking resounding notes in George W. Bush’s head as speculative intrigue grows regarding his recent administrative maneuverings. A new chief of staff, a change in political mastermind Karl Rove’s responsibilities, and a neophyte policy director are changes that appear to impress only the American president. If Bush were out in the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas where he spent his childhood, he might hear someone in a coffee shop suggesting, “It’s like puttin’ earrings on a hog; there’s some ugliness there you just can’t hide.”