Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Resisting Revisionism on Rove



“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.” - Winston Churchill


As I moved to adulthood, I was very late to grasp what many people sense instinctively- the role of the will when it comes to accepting something as true: People believe what they wish to believe rather than what the evidence available to them suggests. What is more, many strongly resist any effort to get them to change these beliefs until absolutely forced to do so by urgent circumstance. When reality hits them in the head with a 2X4, that's when they will face it. Until that point, they will aggressively resist any attempts to revise their positions, perhaps even lashing out in anger at the person warning them that its time to duck.


I was slow to catch onto this aspect of human nature (though I claim no exemption from it). For a while I just thought I should get more skilled at presenting the information. Experience has taught me that this is sometimes worse than futile. It's counter-productive. The more starkly and irrefutably truth is presented to a person not willing to hear it, the more angry they become. They become madder, not wiser!


This tendency for people to see only what they wish to see is most common on the far left, but none of us are immune. Many of my Tea Party friends for example, seem to have revised their mental history when it comes to the last Bush administration and "The Architect" Karl Rove. Some of them think America was only in trouble when Obama got in office and the Bush administration represents the good old days that the Tea Party came into existence to fight to restore. If that is what you want to believe, and you will get upset if someone shatters this idea, then just stop reading right here. Perhaps we will talk again after the swelling from the 2X4 goes down.....


Was the Tea Party a response to Obama only? No. It got kicked into high gear when Obama pushed for a bill which mandated gigantic "stimulus" spending, but the movement was coalescing even during the Bush White House. It was anger and frustration with both parties, especially the big bank bailouts, which prompted the Tea Party. After all, if what formed the Tea Party was simply anger at the Democratic Party, the people who first started the Tea Party could have just joined the Republicans instead of starting something new.


It is true that the national protests did not get organized until February of 2009, but that was mere days after Obama took office on January 20th. The discontent was fermenting long before that, and the trigger for the protests was not just Obama's stimulus plan, but the big bank bailouts that Bush, Obama, and McCain all supported over the objections of almost all Americans.


Newsmax had this interview with pollster Scott Rasmussen. Here is an excerpt from that report.... "The Bush and Obama administrations’ bank bailouts triggered the tea party’s rise, he says."

"Voters are really upset about that,” Rasmussen explained. “Establishment figures said wait a minute, the bailouts saved America. Most Americans have the opposite belief.”

Tea partyers’ anger focuses on two issues, he says. “They think federal spending, deficits and taxes are too high, and they think no one in Washington is listening to them, and that latter point is really, really important.”

The Wiki article on the "Tea Party Protests" also acknowledge that the two-party bank bailouts were the impetus for the protests. Here is a very early UPI article from April of 2008, before the election, which says that "the Boston Tea Party is serving as a template for protests across the nation" without giving many specifics. The suggestion to send Tea Bags to the Congress and Senate (not the White House) for example, was made on Jan. 19th 2009, the day before Obama took office. It was between February and April 16th of 2009 that the media began covering the movement, but that was the beginning of its coverage, not its existence. It was then that people knew there was a band-wagon to hop on, and many hopped on it.


I think what happened was that a lot of traditional Republicans who were OK with Bush saw this movement going on and decided to jump on the band wagon. They were OK with Bush on a purely partisan basis. They did not care to object when he did the exact same kinds of things they were mad at Obama about (big bank bailouts, federalization of education via NCLB, domestic spying, expanding government health care via Medicare Part D, pushing for amnesty for illegal aliens, excessive spending).


When this second wave hit, it expanded the movement but in a way almost killed it. It almost blunted the real signal that much of the country is dissatisfied with the two DC-based political parties. As the outsiders troubled the system, some of them were invited to become cozy with the insiders. This ongoing process risks moving Tea Party members from being on the cutting edge of political change to one of the last ones to know how the country really feels. If the Tea Party is nothing more than an amen corner to the Republican party, if it is only there to cheer one half of the DC party machine rather than hold them both accountable, then it is superfluous.


That brings me to Bush advisor Karl Rove. I don't hate the man. I don't wish him any ill-will at all. I simply disagree with him on public policy and do not wish him to be a member of the group of people who are ruling over me. Karl Rove is anti-tea party. He is the ram rod of one of the most prominent groups of Republican big money establishment wing of the Republican party. He formalized that opposition with a project called "American Crossroads", but the blow back from the conservative grassroots caused that brand to become damaged. So what he did was keep the same idea but launch a spin-off group deceptively named "The Conservative Victory Project" By that they mean "a conservative who can win". And by that they mean, no conservative at all, as experience has shown us.


Karl Rove is anti-Tea Party. That much is common knowledge, again except among many Tea Party folks themselves. They may remember an image of Rove from their GOP days that is dangerously out of touch with present reality. While they are fondly reminiscing on a mental picture of Rove based on who they thought he was, the real one is on the phone to big donors trying to raise the money needed to destroy their movement.


That Rove is on the forefront of the Establishment's push back against the Tea Party is obvious and clear, but again, accepting truth is more than a matter the facts, its a matter of the will. Plenty of Tea Party people, as an act of the will, refuse to accept the abundant evidence that Rove is out to defeat the Tea Party movement. Other Rove fans who are ostensibly in the Tea Party know what Rove is up to. They approve because their first allegiance is to the GOP establishment and they are only associating with the Tea Party to live out the old political adage "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."


Some may refuse to accept the facts, but for those willing to accept them there is no doubt that Rove is out to defeat the Tea Party on behalf of the GOP establishment. What is slightly less obvious is that he left the White House under a cloud. I recently had a professional political consultant, good at what he does, insist that Rove was in the White House until the very end of the Bush administration. In other words, so completely did he revise events in his mind that he was sure Rove never left early at all, much less under a cloud.


The CNN coverage of Rove's resignation mentions that he was leaving while under subpoena from Congress concerning his role in the firing of U.S. Attorneys and replacing them with close political operatives like Arkansas' own Tim Griffin. The accusation was that they intended to use the offices for political prosecutions.


Maybe the people who don't know much about the circumstances surrounding Rove's departure only watched Fox News. The Fox news story on the same event does not even mention the U.S. Attorneys scandal, even though it was so big that it was widely considered to be a major reason that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned at about the same time as Rove. Not that I have much faith in CNN, but I consider that to be a ridiculous omission by Fox. The Wall Street Journal report was somewhat between the two, waiting until the last paragraph to mention the scandal's role in his departure.


A couple of my friends who are looking for excuses to not see that Rove left under a cloud repeated the White House claim that Chief of Staff John Bolton had told "senior staff" that if they did not leave by a certain date then they would be expected to stay until the end of the term. They reason that this deadline was why Rove and Gonzales departed when they did, and so quickly. That's rubbish. Rove and Gonzales were both far closer to Bush than Bolton. Bolton was not making the rules for them. They could have left anytime they wanted to and their 30 year personal friend G.W. Bush would have allowed it. The story about the deadline is an obvious fig leaf to cover the departure of two very senior staff right as the U.S. Attorney's scandal was getting hot.


Another claim was that if Rove was guilty, he would stay and keep the protection of the White House attorneys. He still had that protection, because the Bush administration continued to exert Executive Privilege in order to block Rove's testimony. Rove was found in contempt of Congress, but that carries no jail time. Rove would not have gotten jail time anyway, because at that level the two parties don't prosecute each other.


Look, Bush did not prosecute the Clinton gang for any of their improprieties and the quid pro quo is that the Democrats would not prosecute the Bush side for their crimes either. It is to the advantage of the elite of both parties, but to the great disadvantage of the American people, if they simply don't prosecute members of each other's highest ranks. They may pontificate, but they don't prosecute. This is why I told a friend three years ago that Attorney General Eric Holder will never be prosecuted no matter how many deaths he is responsible for by arming ultra-violent Mexican drug cartels in violation of our law. The two clubs, at the highest levels, give each other a pass. At most, they resign. Rove and Gonzales resigned.


A close Karl Rove associate, Tim Griffin himself was part of the fallout. He stepped down in June of 2007 when he realized that the Senate would never confirm him as a U.S. Attorney. At the time his statement said it was "to pursue opportunities in the private sector." In reality, he got paid by the Presidential Campaign of Fred Thompson, but that campaign folded by the end of January 2008. By September of 2009 Griffin apparently had had enough of private sector opportunities and announced for Congress.


There are a lot of claims floating around out there about Griffin's role in the politicalization of the U.S. Attorney's offices, but I want a little more evidence before I even talk about that here, if it even bears talking about. None of it even matters for my point. Karl Rove is an enemy of the Tea Party by his choice, and Tim Griffin is a Karl Rove protege, yet Griffin appears to have almost unanimous Tea Party support in his latest campaign. This is so even though he has two Republican primary opponents. It makes no sense at all to anyone who is looking at it objectively- but again that might be the problem.

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