Vile bile, the Rovian way

June 23, 2008

Today comes a classic Karl Rove assault on a member of the opposition party, a churlish smear rather than criticism over issues:

Even if you never met him, you know this guy. 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.

Rove was speaking of Barack Obama, never a country club member and unable to join many because he’s black.

Rove’s comment to Republican Party insiders begs the question: has any non-elected official harmed our country more than Karl Rove, at least in the last century?

I’m no historian, but I’m confident the answer is no. Rove has based his career on a single goal: divide the nation for political advantage. And he’s done a bang-up job. So good that he gave us two terms of you know who. So good that for the first time since the country was founded, the Justice Department — likely on Rove’s orders (maybe with President Bush’s approval) — apparently prosecuted people not for violating the law but for political advantage, as if our country is a banana republic, not a nation of laws. So good that families across America, mine included, can hardly discuss politics anymore without rancor poisoning everything.

One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting around the dinner table and debating current affairs. My father encouraged it. I loved having a forum and loved even more the feeling that came with persuading others that I might be right. Occasionally, the arguments of others won me over. We were loud and passionate but never resented each other later. Times have changed. Now we don’t argue, we seethe in silence, the vilest bile of all.

While working at Bush’s elbow, Rove sought to have us despise our fellow citizens based on our differing political views. He saw it as key to his dream of a permanent Republican majority. (Well, maybe he wasn’t so good at his job after all.) Which raises the question: if only one group is perpetually in power, do we have a true democracy?

Only in America is someone like Rove given a cushy, prominent media pulpit (Newsweek) after leaving office. But I still have faith that justice ultimately will prevail, and Rove will write columns well into the future — for a prison newspaper. Maybe a frequent visitor will be the man whom Rove lunched with today after demeaning Obama: George W. Bush.

UPDATE I: Not that it’s a surprise, but Rove is quite familiar with country clubs.

UPDATE II: ” Rove is trying to spin his myths, as he used to do with such devastating effect, but it won’t work this time,” writes the NYT’s Maureen Dowd.