Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Karl Rove is a star in a dark universe.

Most American's are vaguely aware of "political consultants," but few of them understand who these people are or how important they have become in the political process, since most of what they do is accomplished in the dank shadows...not in the bright lights of the dias.

Consultants get people elected. Consultants take stupid ideas and sell them to the public. And many consultants, like Rove, end up not just "spinning, " but creating. They adroitly cross over the line from ad guy to policy guy...and hardly anyone notices. This happens because politicians, egotists all, will kill to get elected and re-elected. If a consultant tells them, "Run this commercial and you'll win," they will do it 99% of the time.

Campaigns today resemble nothing so much as huge corporations, driven by the same sorts of marketing schemes and ad rollouts and press manipulation that your average Big Pharma would be proud of. The very last thing they represent are ideas or concepts or grass roots support. In fact, one of my favorite political bits of jargon is "astroturf marketing," a play on grassroots, where phony "hand made" signs and fake protesters show up to cavort for the cameras. And it works. In the :07 clip people see on TV, there is no way of knowing that those weren't your friends and neighbors.

But back on topic. It is not surprising that Karl Rove would eventually step over the line or be trapped with his own words. While he is, by all accounts, an intelligent and artful player in this game, he is also, as most consultants are, not without an ego of his own. And like most "men behind the men," he hates to lose. That sort of drive, coupled with the power of the WH, has obviously pushed him to say and do things that he shouldn't have. It's my guess that the Plame affair is only one of many "slips of the tongue." But in this case, he was up against people who weren't going to let him get away with it.

But let's be clear about this. Rove might be good at what he does, but there are dozens of his brethren lined up to take his place. Losing Karl may stain the Presidency of GWB, but it won't change anything about how Dubya does business.