BOY GENIUS

Posted in Rants on August 16th, 2007 by Ed

You haven't seen a nauseating paean to Karl Rove until you've seen Fred Barnes' nauseating paean to Karl Rove. I don't recommend reading that in its entirety; it's akin to eating a stick of butter rolled in saccharine. Among the cloying highlights:

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. (emphasis added)

Can you even imagine writing such horseshit for a living? I think it's safe to say that Fred wrote this one with only one hand on the keyboard. If you catch my drift. And I think you do. This is one of those columns that calls to mind Steve Albini and his "Three pandering sluts" rant: I wonder how Fred Barnes will feel if he clips this piece, puts it in a time capsule, and opens it in 10 years. His sentiments might have made sense as a knee-jerk emotional reaction immediately after Rove's resignation, but once he's done rubbing one out I wonder how proud he will be of what he's written here.

It's an awful lot like flogging a dead horse to point out how idiotic the "Rove is a Genius" trope is when viewed through the lens of reality. What Barnes called the greatest political mind "of any generation" was the "architect" of getting a President re-elected by the skin of his teeth as a wartime incumbent. Wow. I mean, what are the odds? Believe it or not, the historical odds were….100%. Nixon '72. FDR. Wilson 1916. Lincoln 1864. Incumbent presidents simply don't lose elections during wartime. Yet the "brilliant" architect Rove managed the herculean feat of getting one such president re-elected over a horrendous challenger by 1% of the popular vote. Wow. Amazing. True, history would suggest that he should have won by 15%. But the reality-based community misses the point by focusing on such irrelevant "facts."

And how about that "permanent Republican majority" that lasted all of two years? Actually, Karl, we call what happened in 2004 the coattail effect, and it's been identified and studied in political science since approximately the dawn of time. The GOP gained three fucking seats in the House in 2004. Yet the media unhinged its jaw like a snake to swallow more and more of the Ain't Rove a Genius propaganda shoveled toward it. In other words, what happened in 2004 was exactly what 200 years of history would predict. The GOP could have used a rock or an incontinent bear as a strategist and gotten the exact same result.

Let's be clear: Karl Rove is a myopic bag of fluid with a 5th-grade understanding of the political world. Calling him a genius based on what happened in 2004 is akin to applauding a shaman for having succeeded in making the sun rise. His constant pandering to the lowest common denominator and his ridiculous overestimation of the number of far-right religious nutcases in the electorate has set his party back years. If he's a genius, he's a genius along the lines of Charles Keating, Bill Buckner or FEMA in New Orleans. That is, he's noteworthy only for his seemingly preternatural ability to fail spectacularly.