So Long, Shoebox: Karl Rove’s Last Hurrah

There is an anecdote that perfectly encapsulates the essence of Karl Rove. It goes like this:

Alongside his ambition and fixation on politics he appears to have believed that the end always justified the means. At [high] school debates he had a mountain of reference cards. Every debater on the team brought a shoebox of cards, but he would bring up to 10 boxes and dump them down, intimidatingly. A team-mate said “there wasn’t a thing on 99% of them”.

That’s our Karl: A boastful blowhard with precious little to back up the boasts, and addicted to ethical shortcuts to make up for his nothingness.

Lost in the blizzard of schadenfreude over his comeuppance and meltdown last Tuesday is this fact: He’s had similar comeuppances in the past, though the resulting meltdowns weren’t quite as spectacular as was last Tuesday’s.

For instance, let us consider 2006. Even as all the evidence was pointing, for those who were paying attention (and who were ignoring the sort of pundit-fog Rove specializes in emitting), to big gains for the Democrats, Rove was adamant that such gains simply weren’t in the cards — his “math”, you see, told him differently, as he announced to NPR’s Robert Siegel in late October of 2006:

SIEGEL: I’m looking at all the same polls that you are looking at.

ROVE: No, you are not. I’m looking at 68 polls a week for candidates for the US House and US Senate, and Governor and you may be looking at 4-5 public polls a week that talk attitudes nationally.

SIEGEL: I don’t want to have you to call races…

ROVE: I’m looking at all of these Robert and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I’m entitled to THE math.

Three weeks later, Democrats had won control of both houses of Congress and Shoebox was wandering around in an angry daze much like the one he’s in now.

It took some time for Rove to regain his blustering composure, but regain it he did — he had to, as it’s his most useful weapon — just in time to do a little consulting work during the 2008 campaign:

Rove has one of the most expansive rolodexes in Washington, which he’s been putting to use for the 2008 election: According to the National Journal’s Peter Stone, Rove has been calling up old friends like Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and convincing them to spend millions of dollars on outside right-wing groups, known as 527 and 501(c)(4) entities. An unnamed GOP consultant who “has met with Rove a few times this year” told Stone that “Karl is up to his eyeballs in this.” The Washington Post has also reported that Rove is working with outside groups who aim “to influence the outcome in November.”

Rove’s Rolodexes didn’t avail him or McCain of much in 2008, but he was able to ride the Tea Party and anti-ACA waves in 2010, thus rebuilding his damaged image as the Rasputin of US politics. So when the Citizens United ruling was handed down, Shoebox was in a perfect position to use his political groups to take advantage of it, sucking up cash from psychotically gullible billionaires like a hooker in Macau. They gave him $390 million all told to get Mitt Romney elected president of the United States — and now that Karl’s failed to deliver, they are holding him responsible:

 ”There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do,” an anonymous GOP operative told The Huffington Post. “I don’t know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing.”

A study by the Sunlight Foundation found that Rove’s American Crossroads got only a 1.3% return on investment, meaning only about 1% of all the money got the candidate they supported into office, or kept the candidate they opposed out.

So in sum, Karl Rove’s billionaire pals gave him nearly $400 million to defeat President Obama in particular and Democrats and their issues in general, and he got waxed. Badly.

No wonder Rove was having a breakdown on the air on FOX last Tuesday: He is now in very deep trouble with a number of very powerful men, and these men didn’t get where they are by playing nice.

I hope you banked your cut of all that money you took from them, Shoebox. You likely won’t be getting any more of it.

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