When President Bush, one of Karl Rove’s best friends, gave Rove the nickname of “turd blossom,” it spoke volumes about both men.
Just as the name implies, a turd blossom is a flower that grows out of a pile of shit. Specifically, it’s a desert wildflower in west Texas that flourishes among cow droppings.
Surely, Dubya thought, what better name is there for Rove, the political mastermind who’s adept at wringing campaign victories (the sweet) from slinging mud at opponents and relying on divisive tactics that prey on people’s fear and hatred (the crap)?
Some of Rove’s handiwork includes using the smoke-andmirrors issue of gay marriage as a tactic to energize the ultra-conservative base and get it to the polls in 2004 to ensure Bush’s narrow reelection victory over Democrat John Kerry. Rove knew all too well that prejudice is a great motivator for some and could trump any legitimate concerns about the Iraq War and abuse of presidential power.
But that’s just part of Rove’s long record of odious tactics.
Rove led the South Carolina push poll that used racist innuendo to undermine support for then-Bush rival John McCain during the 2000 Republican primary. The poll asked, “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”
The claim was false, of course, but it had serious repercussions in the once-Confederate state. As always, Rove denied knowledge of the poll, but McCain’s own political director believed Rove was the ultimate culprit, acting through lackeys.
So it was particularly galling to see Rove attempt to give Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama advice on ethics and character during a lecture Oct. 9 at Northern Kentucky University.
Referring to the tired flap over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s ex-pastor, Rove said, “It’s a question of judgment. … Presidents are the embodiment of our national spirit.” He added that Obama should never have sat “in a church where hate was preached from the pulpit.”
When Rove was reminded that Bush, McCain and a bevy of other GOP candidates regularly hang out with white Christian extremists like Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell and others who make outlandish remarks like blaming the 9/11 attacks on gays and feminists, his reply was illuminating.
“I think there is a difference between people who are political actors and pastors who are pastors of hatred,” Rove weakly retorted. Apparently, he admits that Robertson and his ilk aren’t truly men of God and that it’s all for show.
Nevertheless, Rove proved that he still stays on Republican talking points even after ostensibly leaving politics to be a media pundit. He tried to blame the current financial crisis on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the mortgage firms created by the federal government to make housing more affordable for the poor and minorities.
“They became so big that they caused this,” Rove said. “It was the culture of insider dealing and government run amok.”
While that sounds nice, it’s just not true.
Housing statistics reveal it was the private sector that fueled the sub-prime lending behind the economic meltdown. Private lenders issued more than 84 percent of the sub-prime mortgages in 2006, according to the Federal Reserve Board.
In fact, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets recently found that the “turmoil in financial markets clearly was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 and extending into 2007,” McClatchy Newspapers reported last week.
Rove and the Far Right’s “win at any cost” mentality — which includes distortions and outright lies — is bad for the country and undercuts McCain’s calls for bipartisanship to solve the financial crisis and other pressing problems. After almost 30 years of falling for the campaign strategy, voters thankfully seem to have gotten wise and are repudiating the tactic.
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