Spite Politics

by digby

Kit Seelye has a rather silly article about Karl Rove in today's NYT, wherein he's describes as something of a celebrity Wizard of Oz who's making good money now as a commentator and still driving people crazy. but the tone is typical Sellye, trivial and fluffy and doesn't really get to the heart of what is wrong with the cult of Rove. Fortunately, Matt Taibbi, tackling the same subject matter, has no problem defining exactly what "Rovian" actually means:

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.

The reason Rove continues to survive is the same reason that Johnnie Cochran was called a genius for keeping a double-murderer on the golf course — because this generation of Americans has become so steeped in greed and social Darwinism that it can no longer distinguish between cheating and achieving, between enterprise and crime, and can't bring itself to criticize winners any more than it knows how to be nice to losers. He survives because an increasing number of Americans secretly agree with Rove's vision of rules, laws and "the truth" as quaint, faintly embarrassing rituals that only a sucker would let hold him back.

Rove's comeback is evidence that the attack on our civic institutions in the Bush years wasn't an isolated incident, something we can pin on a specific group of now-deposed politicians. It's a trend, a thing that grows in direct proportion to our greed and ignorance. We may be a country at war, facing one of the greatest financial meltdowns of all time. But in the end, the thing that could be our undoing is the kind of generalized boredom with legality and honor that empowers Rovian behavior. If we let it.

It's true that the problem with this isn't really Rove or even his clients. The problem is that there is such a large market for what they are selling.

Hopefully it's not a majority this time. (It barely was even in 2004, and certainly wasn't in 2000.) But as we've seen during this last week of thuggish cretinism at GOP rallies, the Rovian politics of spite is alive and well among a substantial number of Americans.