Posted on March 9, 2011
Rove's attack against Palin is petty
If Karl Rove doesn't think Sarah Palin would make a good presidential candidate, he could have made a reasonable case for his point of view, as could be made against any other potential candidate being considered. The criticism he offered during a recent interview with New York magazine, however, says a lot more about him than it does her.
Rove pointed to Palin's TV show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, as being beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate. Referencing a scene from the program, he mimicked the ex-governor saying, "Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!" Then he asked, "How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?"
So she should be disqualified from the presidency for saying "crap?" Has Rove forgotten what his former boss, George W. Bush, said about New York Times correspondent Adam Clymer during the 2000 campaign? Or what Vice President Cheney said to Sen. Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor? How about John Kerry's premeditated f-bombing in a Rolling Stone interview?
Perhaps it's just that Rove disapproves of the use of a word like "crap" until after it has been focus group tested. Once it has, he may start instructing his own candidates to practice saying, "Holy crap, that fish hit my thigh" in front of a mirror. As any political strategist can tell you, it's only fake folksiness that makes a candidate attractive. The real kind is just gauche.
Anybody can see that Rove has some problem with Palin other than her credibility as a candidate, because so many others have far greater deficiencies than she does. At least Sarah Palin appears on her TV show as the real Sarah Palin. Since the last presidential campaign, Mike Huckabee has been hosting a Fox News talk show on which he appears as a character named "Mike Huckabee," who bears little resemblance to the tax-hiking, criminal-coddling, pro-amnesty, cap-and-trade advocate who existed prior to 2008.
If any candidate is unfit to oppose President Obama, it's Mitt Romney, whose health care plan in Massachusetts is a microcosm of the federal program that Obama signed into law a year ago. Romney has energetically defended his mandate that individuals be forced to buy health insurance, the very facet of the Obama plan that has been the most contentious. Is Rove uncomfortable about the thought of Romney in the Oval Office? No, he simply advises the former governor to undergo an election-year conversion, by admitting he was wrong. No credibility problem there.
Even if Newt Gingrich were an otherwise promising candidate, his personal foibles render him unacceptable to many Republican primary voters. More recently, the former Speaker of the House alienated conservatives by endorsing the extremely liberal Dede Scozzafava in New York's 2009 congressional special election. He has also become a crusader against the fictitious threat of global warming, by promoting what he calls "green conservatism." To borrow Newt's favorite phrase, "Well, frankly," he doesn't stand a chance.
Rove doesn't hesitate to critique any of these potential candidates, but Palin is the only one he mocks, as if he takes her career as a personal affront. It cannot be coincidental to this treatment that she conspicuously rejects the guidance of hired political kingmakers like Karl Rove.
That being the case, maybe Rove has got a point. Maybe a do-it-yourself politician who eschews the input of political professionals really is deserving of ridicule. After all, Rove is "the architect" of two presidential victories. What serious politician wouldn't want the services of someone like him? To answer that, let's take another look at the results.
In George W. Bush, Rove had a candidate many times more marketable than either of his Democrat opponents. Yet he prevailed by only the narrowest of margins, against a creepy, lisping doomsayer, and a countercultural elitist with the personality of a sardine sandwich. One would expect a brilliant politcal strategist to have an easier time pulling that off.
As Bush's advisor inside the White House, Rove can also take credit for devising the cunning strategy of remaining silent while being flogged with false accusations on a daily basis. By contrast, the punditry almost unanimously frowned on Palin for having the nerve to defend herself against suggestions that she was somehow responsible for the assassination attempt against congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Presumably, the tactically sound approach would have been for her to allow herself to be slandered. If that's what passes for political acumen these days, then Palin is wise to have no part of it.
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