Two myths have permeated American political life over the past eight years or so.
One is that Karl Rove is a genius. The other is that Rove has spawned an army of "mini Roves" who are also geniuses.
Matt Taibbi pops the bubble on myth No. 1 with a biting piece in Rolling Stone. I can do the honors on myth No. 2.
Taibbi’s primary point is that Rove has taken over John McCain’s presidential campaign, and the choice of Sarah Palin as vice president is Exhibit A:
But after the surprising nomination of Palin — a move that fairly stank of Rovian thinking, with its 10-megaton brazenness, its blunt anti-intellectualism and its naked courting of Rove’s beloved electoral cattle, the evangelicals — Rove seemingly let it slip in a Fox broadcast that he did have inside info, saying during the teen-pregnancy flap that Palin was "carefully vetted. . . . They knew all of it." An anonymous Republican source soon told a Washington newspaper that Rove had a consistent, "medium"-size role with the McCain campaign.
Taibbi goes on to list numerous examples of Rove’s influence on the McCain campaign and summarizes their impact:
One is tempted to call this brilliant tactics, except that it isn’t brilliant, any more than pointing a gun at a Korean store owner is a "brilliant" way to make $135. One of the most remarkable aspects of Rove’s career is the way the media consistently respond to being lied to, pissed on and manipulated by Rove: They stroke his already swollen gonads even more, hailing him as a singular political genius.
Taibbi then points out that no one has seen Rove’s "genius" in action quite like former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. And Taibbi shows how Siegelman’s prosecution on bogus corruption charges was covered with Rove’s fingerprints. This is hardly brilliance, Taibbi argues, and he notes Rove’s reluctance to testify about the case under oath before Congress:
Rove is not a genius, or even very clever: He’s totally and completely immoral. It doesn’t take genius to claim, as Rove ludicrously did last fall, that it was the Democrats in Congress and not George W. Bush who pushed the Iraq War resolution in 2002. It doesn’t take brains to compare a triple-amputee war veteran to Osama bin Laden; you just have to be a mean, rotten cocksucker.
Taibbi’s language gets a bit colorful there, but he hits the nail squarely. I’ve seen mean, rotten behavior from numerous "mini Roves" here in Alabama. I can’t begin to cite all of the examples, but let’s consider just a few that show that they are in fact stupid, not smart.
I suppose there is such a thing as a "smart" crook–the jewel thief who carefully cases his target and cleanly pulls off the heist. That doesn’t describe the "mini Roves" I’ve encountered. Let’s consider some principles a smart crook probably follows and show how the "mini Roves" butcher them:
* Know your target’s strengths–In my experience, people with journalism training (like yours truly) are not the smartest people around, and they certainly are not the wealthiest. But they generally know how to do at least two things: (1) Find information; and (2) Present it in a fairly understandable fashion. Had the "mini Roves" done their homework, they might have noticed my background in journalism and decided to pick another target. But they seemed shocked–shocked, I tell you–when I started a blog and began to chronicle their corrupt activities. With just a little brainpower, they could have seen that coming. And they’ve compounded their stupidity by taking all kinds of steps to try to shut down my blog. As we will show in the coming days and weeks, that has only caused the doo-doo at their feet to get deeper and deeper.
* Don’t assume your target is stupid or weak–The "mini Roves" clearly thought I wasn’t capable of figuring out the actual law in my case and that judges were cheating me. And I feel certain they didn’t think I would have the cajones to fire my lawyers and take over my own case when it became clear they were playing along with corrupt Shelby County Judge J. Michael Joiner. Also, the "mini Roves" didn’t consider that modern technology makes valid legal information more readily accessible than it used to be, and technology (as in blogs) makes it easier for someone to tell a story, even if the mainstream media ignores it.
* Know your target’s "life situation"–The "mini Roves" had every reason to know that my wife and I don’t have children. But they didn’t process that information very well. Without kids in the picture, we had the time–and the energy–to fight like wolverines when we realized people were trying to cheat us. Also, the "mini Roves" didn’t size up Mrs. Schnauzer very well. They might have assumed she was the timid, retiring type who would not want to join a fight. They were way off base on that. Mrs. Schnauzer has a "Serbian temper," and a strong sense of right and wrong to go with it, and she had no qualms about joining the fray. Without that kind of support from the lady of the house, I would not have been able to fight back–and Legal Schnauzer never would have happened.
Rove & Co. will win some battles, mainly because a lot of Americans are disengaged from public life. But will Rove & Co. win the larger war? I don’t think so.
As Taibbi so colorfully puts it, Rove knows he has the support of his "electoral cattle." But even cattle start to get alarmed when they realize they are being led to the slaughter house.
Are America’s cattle waking up? Barack Obama’s surge in the polls indicates that some of them are. And that might not be good news for King Karl and his Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.