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A Question That Needs Answers…


Because I have absolutely no desire to hit the cocktail weenie circuit — and because this is a question that has been bugging the crap out of me for the last five years — I’m going to ask it:  why are my tax dollars paying Karl Rove’s salary for his butt to park itself in the public space of the West Wing of the White House, but work on Republican political campaigns across the country?

The LATimes has an op-ed today that just raised that question again in my mind, and I would sure like some answers.  From the LATimes:

Perhaps more than any other administration, the White House of George W. Bush has mastered the art of mixing politics and policy and keeping track of how federal government decisions can affect even obscure local elections. Rove, with a broad portfolio and extraordinary influence, introduced a new political doctrine, effectively putting the federal bureaucracy and the bully pulpit of the White House in the service of GOP political ends.

All administrations are political, of course. But never before has the White House inserted electoral priorities into Cabinet agencies with such regularity and deliberation. Before the 2002 midterm elections, for instance, Rove or Mehlman visited with the managers of many federal agencies to share polling information and discuss how policy decisions might affect key races.

In 2002, Rove told Interior Department officials of the importance of helping farmers in Oregon whose political support was crucial to Gordon Smith, a vulnerable Republican senator. Within months, perhaps because of Rove’s exhortations, the agency did just that, supporting the diversion of water from the environmentally important Klamath River for the sake of irrigating farmland. Thousands of salmon eventually died in the newly shallow waters. But the senator secured his reelection.

Other pieces of the plan preceded Bush and Rove. The legendary political genius Lee Atwater masterminded a long-term campaign to redraw congressional district lines, which has given Republicans a long-term edge in House elections that is difficult to reverse.

Let’s see: rig the districts; gin up your own manufactured scandal machines; ends justifies all means necessary; maintain power at all costs…does that about sum it up?  It isn’t new — the Bush Administration has been doing this since they entered office, but no one ever seems to ask the questions that really need asking about this.

None of this — NONE — explains to me how Karl Rove can work as some sort of pseudo-GOP campaign uber-manager from the West Wing, ordering about the various executive branch agencies into a perpetual campaign-mode action plan and the hell with the long-term governance consequences, sending out minions and surrogates to teevee shows across the country and giving marching orders to the folks in Congress (even heading up to the Hill to twist arms on occasion by threatening to withold re-election funds, if the papers are to be believed on this), and receive a public salary for his public duties all the while. Any answers on this?  Any campaign law experts out there want to weigh in — because I’m very serious about wanting to find some answers for myself…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com