Fred Barnes writing about genius is a bit
like the United Nations writing about efficient bureaucracy, but his piece about Karl Rove is too delightful to
pass up. Barnes writes, barely controlling the heaving in his
Rove is the greatest political mind of his generation
and probably of any generation. He not only is a breathtakingly
smart strategist but also a clever tactician. He knows history,
understands the moods of the public, and is a visionary on matters
of public policy. But he is not a magician.
Barnes, like a number of fawning followers in the media, has
mistaken Rove's willingness to behave in absolutely amoral fashion
for genius. Whether it's falsely accusing Ann Richards of being a
lesbian to win conservative votes in Texas, smearing John Kerry's
war record, suggesting that John McCain had fathered an
illegitimate child, or any of his other underhanded tactics, Rove
represented the worst of American politics. It doesn't take genius
to lie about and try to destroy a candidate; it merely takes a
willingness to put aside decency and morality.
American political campaigns have always been tough, and people
like Rove have been there from the start. Karl Rove is nothing
special; he is the televised version of the Adams supporter who
accused Jefferson of "favouring the teaching of murder, robbery,
rape, adultery and incest" or John Quincy Adam supporters who said
this about Andrew Jackson: "General Jackson's mother was a common
prostitute brought to this country by British solders! She
afterwards married a mulatto man with whom she had several children
of which number General Jackson is one!!"
Actually, I'm surprised Rove didn't steal that one.
In the end, it's excellent news that Republicans believe Rove is a
genius. His short-term win-at-all costs strategy has done more
damage to the Republican Party and its prospects than any Democrat
has. Americans are beginning to see through Rovian politics, and
roundly rejecting them in 2006. The resilience of American
democracy might be explained very simply. While thuggish, immoral
tactics may yield short term electoral gain (especially when
combined with a butterfly ballot), the American people won't
accept those strategies for very long.
The rejection of the Republican Party in 2006 and the resignation
of Karl Rove in 2007 are good signs that we're coming around.