On Tuesday right wing radio guy Hugh Hewitt asked Karl Rove if he thought Democrats would organize rank and filers to participate in Republican caucuses and primaries to try to screw up the Republican nomination. Rove’s answers reveal a lot about his narcissism, his belief that Democrat are weak and his arrogance and ignorance toward online organizing.
First, there’s this, about Rove’s sense of his own abilities compared to those of Democrats:
I think they’ve got to be careful about it, because if they suddenly try and do that behind the scenes, that’s one thing. But if they’re as ham-handed as they are in everything else, it’s going to boomerang badly. And my sense is these people don’t know how to do subtle. They sure know how to do boomerang. So if they do that, they’ll be in trouble.
Karl Rove knows subtle. Riiiiiight. That’s why, for instance, Rove was so adept at instructing federal employees on how to provide political help to Republican members of Congress that the meetings and his slide show never become known to the public…except, of course, they did. That led to Congressional investigations and a special counsel concluding that General Services Administration head Lurita Doan–who organized one of the Rove-planned meetings–had engaged in “the most pernicious of political activity” and should therefore “be disciplined to the fullest extent for her serious violation of the Hatch Act and insensitivity to cooperating fully and honestly in the course of our investigation.” And that’s not even getting in Rove’s lack of subtlety in the Valarie Plame outing, the US attorneys scandal, the White House email scandal or any other of the dozens of ham-handed moves by Rove.
That statement by Rove doesn’t tell us anything new about him; it’s long been obvious that the man has no humility and no sense of shame. But a subsequent comment to Hewitt reveals what he believes is a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats:
Well first of all, they don’t have anybody who has as big a voice and an influence as Rush Limbaugh. I mean, who the heck is Jim Messina for gosh sakes? I mean, so, and they could send out a little email and so forth and try and encourage people, but I think a lot of Democrats would just find it distasteful to participate in Republican primaries unless they’re union steward, or a shop steward told them to do so.
Rove could be paraphrased thusly: “When we Republicans need our ideologues to do something, we place a call to Limbaugh and he gives orders to the conservatives on what to think and do. But the Democrats don’t have anyone to tell the liberals when to bark, shake, roll over and do what would help the Democrats, like sowing mayhem in our nomination process. Sure, they have the union thugs, who at least are ruthless like us Republicans. But even if Democrats had their own Limbaugh, liberals wouldn’t go out and do rough stuff for the Democrats, because liberals has such delicate constitutions that the rough and tumble of effective politics makes them queasy.”
You know what? Rove isn’t really far from the truth. But it reveals Rove’s fundamental–double entendre–problem as a political strategist: he only understands the conservative base, and doesn’t possess any empathy for those not like him. Oh, sure, he knows how to manipulate people–especially the press–but considering people who think for themselves and don’t relish dirty tricks in pursuit of victory elicits in Rove nothing but disgust.
I admit, I often am frustrated by liberal weenies more concerned with process and niceties than gaining power and using that power to do good. To take one example, yes, it’s wrong and it’s harmful to democracy to have widespread and massive political spending by anonymous donors, and I support laws that would impose transparency. But as long as groups like the Rove-led American Crossroads are taking massive amounts of anonymous money and using it to attack Democrats, I have no patience for the tut-tutters tut-tutting Democrats for creating organizations that will take anonymous donations to try to elect Democrats in 2012. Unilateral disarmament is almost always stupid, and there’s no virtue in smug stupidity.
But the fact that we don’t have a bunch of leftist dittoheads is one of our country’s great virtues, and is a driving force in one of the most profound changes in politics over the last decade or so, one that will likely carry on for some years to come: the rise of computer and internet technology and internet-based social networking and communications. Rove’s dismissal of “a little email” reminds me of the arrogance of calvary officers circa 1913, a few years before mechanized warfare made mounted warfare anachronistic. The world is changing, the Republicans are not matching the innovations of Democrats (a fact some Republicans are beginning to acknowledge), and it’s iconoclastic independent thinkers who are driving the technological and communications innovations that favor Democrats.
Liberals might occasionally help their cause and their country by being a bit more willing to take marching orders from a liberal Rush Limbaugh were one to exist. But on balance I’m fine with not having a liberal Rush Limbaugh provided we also don’t have a Democratic Karl Rove, disdaining innovation and being unashamed of fostering a politics of amoral brutishness.