Sunday, August 19, 2007

The delusions of intellecutal snobbery

If you've been a regular reader, and I doubt many of you have, you'll know that I have something of a love-hate relationship with columnist Alexander Cockburn. Well, it's a one-sided relationship as he doesn't even know I exist. Be that as it may, however, there are time I heartily agree with Mr. Cockburn and times that I don't. This is one of the "don't" times.

Perched on his journalistic version of Olympus, Cockburn spurns the suspicion shared by many in the left-learning blogoshpere that Karl Rove's departure from the White House has less to do with embarrassment, shame or contrition and more with the up-coming 2008 presidential campaign. Writes Cockburn:
The Left designated Rove as the arch engineer of America's supposed lunge in the Bush years into the arms of the Christian right. Indeed the left has so demonized Rove it can't even accept he's gone and advances devious explanations: he's not really resigning at all; he fears impending indictment; he's preparing to "work behind the scenes".
Oh, yes, I too am one of the unlettered "Left" who think KKKarl left the White House to work unfettered, behind the scenes, for the defeat of whomever many be the Democratic Party's nominee for president. And what was my evidence, slim though it many be? Why nothing other than Wall Street Journal commentator Paul Gigot's August 13 "interview" with the devil himself.

Interestingly Cockburn, who formerly dropped off a column or two at the Wall Street Journal, makes no reference to the Gigot column. The voice of Rove the anti-Christ is silent.

Cockburn then turns his sights on one of my personal favorite reactionary wing nuts, the inimitable Richard Viguerie:
The conservative right similarly detests Rove as the man they claim pushed Bush towards socialism. Richard Viguerie, a prominent conservative, bid Rove adieu with these words: "Karl Rove's departure from the White House is good news for conservatives. As President Bush's chief political advisor, Karl Rove was a master in the care and feeding of conservative leaders, keeping them mostly silent as the Republican Party moved Left during the Bush presidency." As evidence of Bush's left agenda Viguerie cited Bush's signing of the "No Child Left Behind" education bill, his wildly expensive prescription drug benefits bill, soaring farm subsidies, steel tariffs, higher federal deficits, plus "Nation-building on a scale never attempted before". Viguerie's demonization is rather more persuasive than the left's.
I guess, the erudite Mr. Cockburn is taking Viguerie at face value. That is something I've learned, from my wormlike prospective, never to do when it comes to the words or writing of reactionary apparatchiks. And everything Viguerie writes one should take with a very large grain of salt. Obviously Cockburn discounts the notion that the reactionary right of Twenty-first Century United States will react to a small set-back, like the 2006 congressional elections, roll with it, lose the White House if need be; nurse an unfounded grudge four long years, obstruct a Democratic administration at every turn; charge out spitting piss and vinegar, crying "We told you so!" with a new cadre of right wing fanatics and retake the government. Jimmay Carter was an aberration, Bill Clinton an irritant. Why should it be any different now?

But the "I'm-smarter-than-you-are" Cockburn sees Rove's departure as nothing more than routine:
So why did Rove quit? Like many White House counselors in the third or seventh year of their White House sojourns, Rove is getting out before the last humiliating year of a lame-duck presidency, when governors of second tier states won't answer the White House's calls. He'll serve out the stipulated year selling his memoirs, rediscovering his family and learning their names. Then he'll become a lobbyist.
Oh? Cockburn's essay went to press, or Web page, before Peter Wallsten's analysis of Rove's departure and subsequent actions in the Sunday Los Angeles Times saw light of day. Reports Wallsten:
Day after day last week, outgoing White House political strategist Karl Rove delivered slashing attacks on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner. Her healthcare record was "spotty and poor," he declared. Her candidacy was "fatally flawed," he said. And no one with her negative poll numbers, he stated, "has ever won the presidency."

The decision to focus on the New York senator to the exclusion of other potentially formidable Democratic standard-bearers such as Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois offered a rare glimpse into a world where things are not always what they seem -- the world of modern-day electioneering, whose denizens often prefer going from A to B by way of Z.

Their thinking went like this,[Rove lieutenant Matthew ]Dowd explained: Democrats, in a knee-jerk reaction to GOP attacks, would rally around Kerry, whom Rove considered a comparatively weak opponent, and make him the party's nominee. Thus Bush would be spared from confronting Edwards, the candidate Republican strategists actually feared most.

"I haven't known Karl to do many things accidentally or spontaneously," said Dowd, who has broken ties with Bush, Rove and others and has expressed disappointment in the president's leadership and political tactics.
I suggest you read the entire LA Times story. Wallsten even has an interesting quote from small government guru Grover Norquist, who avers that Hillary Clinton is the easiest person to beat.

But what does Cockburn care. He has his home somewhere in the Northern California woods, his vintage car collection and, perhaps, yet some contacts with Wall Street via old and useful friends at the soon-to-be Murdochized Journal.

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