SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Out in West Texas, they have a name for the desert flower that crops up and blooms where the cattle have left their droppings: turd blossom. And George W. Bush picked this as his nickname for Karl Rove long ago. I spent some time this morning scanning the web for the best pre-post-mortems on Karl Rove. Here are my interim awards:
Best Blog Post
Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish offers what is predictably the best write-up anywhere, starting with the wrecking ball approach Rove took to America’s conservative traditions.
The man’s legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power – which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government’s reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent. Why? Because Rove preferred to divide the country and get his 51 percent, than unite it and get America’s 60. In a time of grave danger and war, Rove picked party over country. Such a choice was and remains despicable.
Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war – and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency. His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government has turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so. It will take another generation to recover from the toxins he has injected, with the president’s eager approval, into the political culture and into the conservative soul.
Best Newspaper Editorial
That would definitely be the New York Times which sees the issues in Rove’s wake and urges courage and determination. Don’t let Rove ride away into the sunset like a figure in some cheap Western, the Times urges:
Mr. Rove appears to have been deeply involved in the decision to fire nine top federal prosecutors, apparently for either bringing cases that hurt Republicans or refusing to bring cases to punish Democrats. There is also mounting evidence that he turned nonpartisan agencies into campaign boosters, quite possibly violating federal law. Earlier this month, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted that Justice Department officials attended political briefings at the White House, some led by Mr. Rove. Officials at the General Services Administration and Peace Corps, and even six American ambassadors, among others, were also given briefings…
Mr. Rove failed his own party, as well as the American people, when he counseled President Bush to turn every serious policy debate — Social Security, the war in Iraq, even terrorism — into one more political dogfight. Today, despite Mr. Rove’s claims of invincibility, both houses of Congress are back in Democratic hands, Mr. Bush’s approval ratings are around 30 percent and many Republican presidential candidates are running as fast as they can away from the Bush legacy.
Mr. Rove can now contemplate that legacy from his home in Texas. But he should not get too settled in. Congress needs to use all its power to bring Mr. Rove back to Washington to testify — in public and under oath — about how he used his office to put politics above the interests of the American people.
Most Absurd Broadcast Media Suck-Up
To ABC News’s Rick Klein for giving us the usual tactics-is-everything political analysis for which ABC’s The Note was long famous, and in the process for showing how you can use the words “turd blossom” and still engage in shameless sycophantic pseudo-analysis:
Turd Blossom” is not necessarily a nickname of derision. In an age of white-bread political operatives, Rove was a colorful figure who earned a stable of nicknames worthy of the Roaring ’20s. Bush himself coined the “Blossom” sobriquet, and also called Rove “Boy Genius” and “the Architect.” Journalists, meanwhile, called Rove “Bush’s Brain.” And Rove had a talent for labels himself — will anyone in politics be able to look a flip-flop — or a windsurfer — again and not think of John Kerry?
Rick’s ten points are just the sort of hagiography that Rove would write for himself. Yes, our broadcast media is that bad.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."