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Karl Rove

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Karl Rove, “The Architect” of George W. Bush’s campaigns and domestic policy, has been one of the central figures of this already puzzling century. No single adviser has been more closely linked to a President since Henry Kissinger served Richard Nixon. For most of the last decade, Rove defined the official Republican line, stomping alternative conservative viewpoints into obscurity. And it all ended in catastrophe.

So is Rove’s autobiography, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, the first memoir from a true Bush insider, enlightening about what went wrong?

Answer: yes—but mostly in an unintended way.

The largest part of this large book (596 pages) comprises talking points defending Rove and Bush from Democratic attacks. Rove, who penned hundreds of junk mail fundraising letters before going to work full time for Bush in the 1990s, isn’t a bad writer. If you really want to hear Rove’s side of the old controversies that once garnered headlines and television chatter, his book provides a convenient compendium.

On the other hand, if you are interested in learning from past mistakes,Courage and Consequence won’t be terribly informative, as I’ll explain below.

The smallest part of the book offers general advice on electioneering, most of it sound. Rove writes, for example, “… not everybody votes … This means that there is usually a large pool of possible voters on the table who can tip an election, if only they can be enticed to go to the polls” (pp. 24-25).

During the Republican triumphs of 2002 and 2004, Rove did a fine job at the blocking and tackling of Get-Out-the-Vote.

Rove devotes a moderate amount of space to describing his feelings, which are mostly hurt. People have said a lot of unkind things about Karl Rove over the years, and—he wants you to know—they’ve left him feeling sorry for himself.

This may seem rather odd. Rove has been a hyper-competitive, sharp-elbowed combatant in the arena for decades. You might imagine he’d have built up some psychic scar tissue by now. I would have liked Rove more if he had portrayed himself as an old-fashioned devil-may-care rogue.

These days, though, as bestsellers such as A Million Little Pieces and Dreams from My Father demonstrate, self-pity sells. A stiff upper lip doesn’t cut it in the Oprah Age.

Thus, we are informed that Rove has been hurt:

  • by his unstable mother (who never got around to telling him that her husband wasn’t his biological father);
  • by pit bull prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (who investigated him for years in the rather exiguous Valerie Plame case);
  • by Democrats; and
  • by the Main Stream Media.

Among the MSM’s many transgressions, it accused Rove’s beloved adoptive father of being gay. Rove pushes back against this notion by telling us more than I, personally, cared to know about his mom and dad’s sex life.

Perhaps the best anecdote in the book concerns Rove’s first (and last) marriage counseling session with his first wife (p. 53):

“The assistant rector of Palmer Episcopal Church turned blandly to Val to ask if she would like to say anything. She said, ‘Yes.’ She then looked at me and blurted out, ‘I don’t love you. I’ve never loved you. I never will love you. And I don’t see any purpose in this.’ With that, she walked out. The room seemed frozen in silence. Then the assistant rector exhaled deeply, looked at me, and said, ‘Well, that about says it all,’ and closed the portfolio holding his pad and pen.”

(There’s no hint in Rove’s manuscript, which presumably was finished several months ago, of his December 29, 2009 divorce from his second wife.)

Rove’s account of the family trauma caused by his mother, who killed herself when her third marriage was breaking up, is well done. Yet he doesn’t explain how his emotionally difficult childhood relates to his subsequent life.

Perhaps there isn’t much of a connection. During the 1960 election, Rove just fell in love with the Republican Party the way other 9-year-old boys fall in love with baseball teams.

Or maybe this lack of reflection is simply representative of the general absence of perspective in this book (and, for that matter, in Rove’s career). Rove is a hard-working fellow who gets a lot done. But his for all his repute as the Boy Genius and Bush’s Brain, you have to keep in mind that those are relative terms. He’s either a shallow thinker, or someone who has so internalized the reigning taboos that he has little of interest to add.

Judging from his voluminous autobiography, Rove obsessed over winning the next 24-hour news cycle—not in trying to understand much of long-term significance.

A Presidential wingman’s self-serving memoirs don’t have to be this superficial. I was recently rereading Years of Upheaval, Kissinger’s 1982 memoir of the tumultuous second Nixon administration. Kissinger’s book is enlarged and enlivened by his witty depictions of the stereotypical national characters of the countries he dealt with.

But any Republican who wrote like that today would be crucified for political incorrectness. As a result of the curse of PC, we live in age of intellectual stultification.

Rove’s feelings appear to have been hurt most frequently of all by George W. Bush.

There’s something a little creepy about Rove’s glowing memory of the first time he laid eyes on W. on November 21, 1973 (p. 39):

“George W. Bush walked through the front door, exuding more charm and charisma than is allowed by law. He had on his Air National Guard flight jacket, jeans, and boots. I introduced myself and we chatted about nothing for a few minutes.”

In Courage and Consequence, Rove vociferously eulogizes the greatness of George W. Bush. And yet Rove slips in dozens of small examples of Bush being hurtful, such as nicknaming Rove “Turd Blossom“.

A recurrent drumbeat in the book is Bush’s peevishness when tired (and he seems to tire quickly). Rove’s memoir has a bit of the flavor of a battered wife who ostentatiously defends her husband, partly out of affection and partly to draw sympathy to herself.

Most of Rove’s memoir, though, is devoted to rehashing old controversies.

Someday, there will be a revisionist history of the 2000s that makes sense of the decade by stepping outside the GOP v. Democrat ideological shackles. But, unsurprisingly, Rove isn’t the man to do it.

The most striking aspect is how irrelevant most of those old Republican vs. Democrat brouhahas that consumed the MSM are to understanding two of the three most spectacular failures of the Bush Presidency, the 9/11 skyjackings and the mortgage meltdown. Both came out of the blue because both the Republicans and Democrats had been in agreement. (For that matter, there was very little initial resistance to Spectacular Failure #3, the Iraq War).

Edmund Burke described prudence as the “first of all virtues”. To Bush and Rove, though, prudence equals prejudice. They were just as much true believers in multicultural dogmas as their Democratic opponents and the press corps.

Thus, for example, Rove somehow forgets to mention his amazing 1997-2001 crusade alongside Beltway Right activist Grover Norquist to win the (ludicrously small) Arab and Muslim vote by abolishing the Clinton Administration’s use of ethnicity in profiling for airport security and also the use of “secret evidence”against terrorism suspects. According to Norquist, Rove phoned him not once but twice during the October 11, 2000 Presidential debate to point out Bush’s demands for less protection against skyjackers. Rove asked Norquist to “put the word out” among Muslims voters.

But, three days later, Al Gore agreed with Bush at a meeting with Muslim politicians. So, because it lacked partisan salience, Bush’s campaign to make sure Mohammed Atta didn’t get extra scrutiny at the airport has vanished from the American media’s memory.

There is one interesting historical tidbit in Courage and Consequence. I had long heard assertions by Islamist extremists, such as Sami al-Arian, that Bush was actually scheduled to meet with them in the White House on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 to brief them on his war on anti-terrorism. But that was so bitterly ironic that I assumed it must be an urban legend.

Remarkably, however, in his chapter on 9/11, Rove blithely confirms that it’s true (p. 266):

“Coincidentally, the president was to have met at 3:05 p.m. with American Muslim leaders after his planned return from the Florida education event. He had been scheduled to spend forty minutes, first with a small group in the Oval Office and then with a larger one in the Roosevelt Room.”

Rove’s attitude seems to be this: The Democrats didn’t criticize Bush for it, so there’s no reason not to admit it.

To Rove, this anecdote merely illustrates Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”.

Similarly, Rove’s account of his advocacy of an “ownership society” (p. 248) leaves out all mention of one key component: the Bush Administration’s promotion of imprudent and economically catastrophic zero-downpayment mortgages in the name of racial equality.

But how many MSM reviewers will even notice?

Out of 596 pages, Rove devotes four (pp. 410-413) to mortgages. And those solely discuss how corrupt Congressional Democrats thwarted the Administration’s plan to clean up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2005.

He’s not wrong about that. But he completely ignores how the Bush Administration debased traditional lending standards by greatly raised Fannie and Freddie’s lower income neighborhood quotas and imposed the ” Government-Sponsored Enterprises’ first racial quota.

But because both the Republican and Democrat leaderships were in bipartisan agreement that this was a good way to narrow the racial homeownership gap, these Bush policies were as uncontroversial as they were deleterious. So, again, they don’t require defending by The Architect.

And then, of course, there’s immigration. readers who have been with us since 2001 will roll their eyes at Rove’s description of Bush’s immigration policies. Yet Rove’s rewriting of history will likely be accepted credulously by the MSM as the one part of the book you can trust.

Rove obviously wants to sell copies of his book to conservative Republicans. So he now soft-peddles his 2001-2007 crusade for amnesty. According to his index, the topic of “immigration” doesn’t appear in the book until p. 378, when 800 leftist protestors trampled Rove’s lawn in March 2004. Rove writes obliquely (“Immigration reform”, of course = “amnesty” in Rovespeak):

“Their signs protested the administration’s immigration views. I thought that strange, since President Bush was a known advocate of immigration reform.”

Strange, indeed.

It’s hard now to remember the obsessions of the Bush Administration before September 11, 2001, but they are easy to look up.

Rove entered the White House in 2001 repeatedly offering to the MSM a prediction of partisan realignment inspired by his research into William McKinley’s 1896 victory, which launched the GOP into control of the White House for 28 of the next 36 years. Rove explains the basis of his analogy on p. 132:

“… I learned that McKinley was a master politician who understood America’s changing demography. He wanted to modernize the country and the Republican Party. … Delegations were organized to show the McKinley campaign’s outreach to new immigrants and other voters not historically identified with the largely Anglo-Saxon Republican Party.”

Rove repeatedly suggested in 2001 that Bush would bring about a lasting realignment by capturing the growing Hispanic vote by making illegals legal. Consequently, Bush floated an amnesty / guest worker trial balloon in July 2001.

The MSM was ecstatic. Andrew Sullivan, for example, gurgled: “And it’s great politics—managing to put the Democrats on the defensive and woo an important voting bloc.”

Actually it was and is terrible politics, as I have explained repeatedly, for example here. But during those sleepy months before 9/11, foreign policy was aligned around Rove’s political program as well. As bizarre as it may seem now, the initial focus of Bushian foreign policy was on striking a deal with Mexico over immigration.

Bush made his first presidential trip abroad to meet the new, allegedly pro-business president of Mexico, Vicente Fox. He ordered Secretary of State Colin Powell to meet with Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda to work out an immigration agreement. Fox was the first state visitor to the White House in early September 2001, where he demanded the U.S. legalize illegals by the end of the year.

Yet, neither “Mexico” nor “Fox, Vicente” appears in Rove’s index.

“Realignment” doesn’t appear either. Funny thing.

Rove won’t admit that his amnesty obsession was a bad idea. But, no doubt knowing how unpopular it is with his target audience, he buries it until late in the book. He finally gets around to mentioning the 2001 amnesty misadventures on p. 467, where he writes:

“Bush had begun to work on reform early in 2001 because he believed America had a border that wasn’t protected, the nation had an urgent need for temporary workers, and he could forge a compromise between those who wanted to punish lawbreakers and those who recognized their value as workers in a very broken system. But 9/11 derailed the effort.”

This is just flat-out untrue. The Bush-Rove plan had already died in the 107th Congress before 9/11. On September 6, 2001, Gallup released a poll entitled Americans Clearly Oppose Amnesty for Illegal Mexican Immigrants. As I wrote for UPI on September 10, 2001:

“… Bush’s unofficial point man on immigration in the House, Rep. Chris Cannon ((R-Utah) has signaled that he doesn’t want to try to introduce a bill until 2003, saying, ‘I don’t even know if we can get a bill in this Congress.’” [Analysis: Why Bush blundered on immigrants]

Incredibly, Rove then completely ignores the Bush Administration’s attempt to revive amnesty and guest workers in both 2004 and 2006. He skips to 2007, for a reason I’ll explain below.

Yet, upon its rollout in January 2004, the Administration’s guest worker plan was essentially unlimited in scale, making it, a truly radical Open Borders policy, incredible as it seemed for a supposedly”conservative” President. The Washington Times reported:

“When asked during the call how the worker and employer would prove that no Americans desired the job, one of the White House aides present said the fact that the job is open will be assumed to mean that the ‘marketplace’ had determined that.”[Illegals proposal focuses on work, January 6, 2004]

Bush orated:

“Second, new immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job.”

Apparently, Bush and Rove just hadn’t thought about the fact that there are five billion people who live in countries even poorer than Mexico in terms of per capita income. So it hadn’t occurred to them, either, that their guest worker plan would turn America into an overpopulated Blade Runner dystopia.

Sheer incompetence.

Eventually, other Republican politicians got through to the Administration’s brain trust with the reminder that 2004 was an election year, so please shut up about amnesty.

Courage and Consequence’s description of the Washington Establishment’s attempts to pass “comprehensive immigration reform” during the second Bush administration are bizarrely disingenuous. Rove simply leaves out the 2006 attempt by the Bush Administration to pass the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. (Remember that 2006 was the year of the huge demonstrations by illegal immigrants). As I noted earlier, Rove writes solely about the 2007 debate.

Why? Because he wants to blame the failure to pass amnesty on the Democrats. They had the majority in Congress in 2007, after Rove had succeeding in losing the 2006 midterm elections. He writes:

“Unfortunately, we had not taken into consideration Majority Leader Harry Reid’s quirkiness. He decided the long battle would rile up emotions in the Senate and pulled the bill down on June 7 [2007] … The Senate had been on the edge of passing comprehensive immigration reform … But Reid blew the opportunity with his rash decision. … On June 28, 2007, immigration reform failed on a vote of 53 to 46.”

Of course, amnesty also failed to pass in 2004 and 2006 when the GOP controlled both houses, and in 2001 when the Republicans ran the House and the Democrats the Senate. How could that possibly have happened?

Because the American public despised amnesty.

Why did Rove keep beating his head against the wall over immigration?

According to the old joke: Because it felt so good when he stopped.

But will he ever stop?

Rove has told the New York Times that he still regrets not slipping amnesty through by cutting more artful deals with the Democrats. His latest theory:

“As I said in the book, I wish we had led the second term with immigration reform. If we had led with immigration reform at the beginning of the second term we could have had bipartisan cooperation with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate and done something important for the country that was tilted more toward what the Republicans wanted but couldn’t have passed without Democratic votes instead of Social Security which Democrats wouldn’t participate in until they had a taste of victory. Immigration reform would have given everybody a bipartisan victory and would have cleared the ground for entitlement reform.” [Rove on Rove: A Conversation With the Former Bush Senior Adviser, By Peter Baker, March 10, 2010]

A bipartisan victory for everybody—except the American people.

The import of the Bush Administration’s immigration enthusiasm extended far beyond its quadruple failure in Congress.

By promising amnesty, Bush and Rove invited in more illegal aliens. And they helped pump up the Housing Bubble by implying to buyers of mortgage-backed securities that there would be ever more immigration driving up demand for homes.

What was Karl Rove thinking? Why did he repeatedly order the GOP to pursue such an obviously self-destructive scheme? Former Bush speechwriter David Frum noted:

“I often wondered why it was that skeptical experts on issues like immigration could never get even a hearing for their point of view. … We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters.” [Building a Coalition, Forgetting to Rule, New York Times, August 14, 2007]

Courage and Consequence offers no new answers. So in next week’s column, I’ll consider explanations for one of the central puzzles of this catastrophic decade.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE”, is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Karl Rove 
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You might think that Karl Rove would be taking a bit of a break. After guiding the GOP to its disastrous 2006 campaign, and having his protégé Steve Schmidt run John McCain’s clueless 2008 campaign into the ground, doesn’t he want to think things over—to lie low until he figures out where he went so terribly wrong?

After all, the Republican President whom Rove guided to narrow victories in 2000 and 2004 has presided in recent weeks over the wholesale nationalization of sizable chunks of the economy—thebiggest victory that socialism has ever won in the history of the United States. And he has managed to get himself succeeded by a man of the radical left, driven by racial animosity against the American majority. (See my new book America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story Of Race And Inheritance”!). Isn’t that kind of a downer?

But you would be wrong. Rove is bustin’ out all over. According to his biography in The Wall Street Journal:

“Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to bepublished by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at or visit him on the web at”

Rove is still pushing the Political Big Idea of the Bush Administration: converting Hispanics to the GOP. In his November 13 WSJ column,History Favors Republicans in 2010 he asserted:

“One of the most important shifts was Hispanic support for Democrats. John McCain got the votes of 32% of Hispanic voters. That’s down from the 44% Mr. Bush won four years ago. If this trend continues, the GOP will find it difficult to regain the majority.”

C’mon, Karl—give it a rest! Your boy George did not get 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. You know perfectly well that Edison-Mitofsky, the exit poll company, admitted in January 2005 that they had botched up the methodology. The real number was around 40 percent—firmly in the GOP’s historically horrible Hispanic range.

More importantly, the main reason Bush reached 40 percent in 2004 was because the two of you bought a few percentage point increase in the Hispanic vote with the Housing Bubble.

The Bush Administration tried to turn Latinos into home-owning Republicans, using no down payment subprime adjustable rate mortgages. In 2002-2004, Bush campaigned against down payments on home loans as the chief impediment to his goal of adding 5.5 million minority homeowners.

Hispanics, on average, are natural tax-and-spend Democrats. Rove tried to turn them into Republicans through a policy of borrow-and-spend. Home purchase mortgage dollars flowing to Hispanics increased 691 percent from 1999 to 2006. In California, the black hole of themortgage meltdown, the fraction of first-time home purchasers inCalifornia who didn’t put any money dow n grew from 7 percent in 2000 to 33 (!) percent in 2004 to 41 (!!) percent in 2006.

Although the Bush Administration was most interested in wooing Hispanics with easy credit, the lax lending standards applied to everybody—further fueling the Bubble.

Now, though, Hispanics are defaulting in huge numbers on mortgages they never should have gotten in the first place. And they are being laid off from their construction jobs building homes we didn’t need and couldn’t afford.

And we’re all paying the ghastly economic price for Rove’s political gambit.

It’s important to fully understand why the lessons the two Texans, Rove and Bush, learned in their home state didn’t apply in other heavily Hispanic states.

So far, the mortgage meltdown hasn’t been as bad in<st1:place
w:st=”on”>Texas as in the four Sand States(as they were known on Wall Street during the Bubble): <st1:state
w:st=”on”>Nevada, <st1:state
w:st=”on”>Arizona, and <st1:state
w:st=”on”>Florida. These are home to half of the foreclosures and a large majority of the defaulted mortgage money.

Partly this is due to the Oil Bubble, which now appears to be ending. Oil prices over $100 per barrel kept the Texas economy strong in 2008, allowing debtors to avoid foreclosure.

Also, the enormous amount of land and the lack of environmental restrictions on home development in Texas means that when the federal government stimulates demand, the supply of housingincreases quickly as well, keeping housing prices reasonable.

Finally, what Rove and Bush missed was how different the economic and immigration history of Texas over the last three decades was relative to the seemingly similar Sand States. Due to OPEC’s oil price increases in the 1970s, Texas experienced a huge construction boom thirty years ago. That mostly attracted construction workers from the rest of the <st1:place
w:st=”on”>U.S. rather than from <st1:country-region
w:st=”on”>Mexico, because Mexico was simultaneously experiencing its own oil boom following massive new discoveries.

When oil prices collapsed in 1982, the economies of <st1:place
w:st=”on”>Texasand Mexico slumped simultaneously. The big wave of post-1982 unemployed illegal aliens therefore headed for California rather than forTexas.

That’s why San Antonio had “surprisingly low levels” of immigration from 1965 to 2000, according to the important new bookquantitatively comparing Mexican-Americans in San Antonio and Los Angeles in 1965 and 2000, Generations of Exclusion, by sociologists associated with the UCLA Chicano Studies Program.

The 2000 Census found that California’s foreign-born population (26 percent of all residents) was almost twice as large as<st1:place
w:st=”on”>Texas’s (14 percent).

As Texans, Rove and Bush apparently just couldn’t understand the quantity and quality of the immigration situation in the other heavily Hispanic states. In 2000, Texas had a large but fairly well-rooted, stable, and assimilated Mexican-American population that had a reasonable potential to make enough money in resource-extraction orother blue-collar jobs to afford to buy Texas’s cheap houses.

In sharp contrast, California had a huge and mostly new, ill-educated, and unassimilated Mexican-American population that didn’t have even a chance of making enough money in Silicon Valley or Hollywood to afford California’s already expensive houses.

And Nevada, Arizona, and Florida were more like California than they were like Texas.

The Rove-Bush policies weren’t directly disastrous in<st1:place
w:st=”on”>Texas, the state they understood. But in other heavily Hispanic states, they were like trying to put out fire with gasoline.

Lately, there has been much talk about what the GOP needs to do in the future. An overlooked necessity is that the Republican Party must shed the Rove-Bush trick of appealing to Ronald Reagan‘s alleged philosophy of optimism to justify bad policies.

In the long run, what wins elections is not optimism or pessimism, but realism. Reagan triumphed less because he was optimistic than because he was realistic. He came to office in 1981 after a long period in which America had gotten kicked around. In a climate of gloom, he correctly assessed that, given some encouragement,<st1:place
w:st=”on”>America’s business and military were capable of doing a much better job than the conventional wisdom of the time believed.

In contrast, Rove and Bush arrived in Washington 20 years later, following the enormous triumphs of the Reagan Era. When you’re already on top of the world, it’s implausible that the only way you can go is up.

Worse, while Reagan bet on Americans, Rove and Bush placed some of their biggest bets on foreigners. They guessed that all that was holding Iraqis back from democracy was Saddam Hussein. And they bet that Mexicans could earn enough to afford the American Dream of home ownership—if the government could only do something about those pesky down payments.

What should the Republican Party do in the future? After Rove’s years of what I call Marketing Major postmodernism—the belief, often acquired through osmosis while studying public relations or advertising in college, that some egghead over in Europe proved that there’s nosuch thing as truth or reality, so spin away!—the first priority must be to remake the GOP as the party of realism.

The Rove-Bush strategy of Invade the World/ Invite the World/ In Hock to the World reflected an unfounded faith not in Americans but in,respectively, the reasonableness, competence, and benevolence of non-Americans.

Now, we need to begin the long task of rebuilding with a clear, cold eye.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His features his daily blog. His new book, <st1:place

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Karl Rove 
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Although the Bush Administration’s plan for granting amnesty to illegal Mexican immigrants strikes most Republicans as bad for their country and bad for their party, it remains as hard to kill as the Monkey’s Paw, in large part due to its author Karl Rove’s reputation as a political genius.

Sure, amnesty doesn’t make much sense to you or me. But what do we know—compared to the infallible Rove?

The truth, however, is that Rove’s minority outreach initiatives have a lousy track record. And his disastrous attempt to win Muslim votesforeshadowed all the errors he’s making with Mexican outreach.

Rove’s Muslim project began in early 1997 during a meeting with the energetic Republican insider Grover Norquist. (When I met Grover a decade ago, his stumpy physique and the very long, very red beard he wore back then made him look exactly like the charming little brother of the big mean troll that lived under the bridge in my sons’ favorite book at the time, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.) Rove and Norquist discussed “the need for Republicans to embrace Muslim Americans,” according to Tom Hamburger and Glenn R. Simpson in the Wall Street Journal (June 11, 2003):

“That brief conversation in Austin, Texas, helped start a new chapter in Mr. Norquist’s career—and in the political lives of Muslims in this country. The following year, Mr. Norquist started the nonprofit Islamic Free Market Institute. In collaboration with Mr. Rove, now Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, he and other institute leaders courted Muslim voters for the Bush 2000 presidential campaign…

“Norquist’s Institute’s main supporter has been thePersian Gulf state of Qatar, from which it has received hundreds of thousands of dollars since 1998. In 2001, the last year for which complete records are available, roughly 80% of the institute’s $641,000 in contributions came from foreign governments, companies and individuals writing checks on foreign banks. …

“Mr. Norquist helped secure a promise from presidential candidate Bush to moderate federal policy on investigating suspected illegal immigrants. In a nationally televised debate on Oct. 11, 2000, Mr. Bush said: ‘Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what’s called secret evidence …. We’ve got to do something about that.’ …

“Twice during the debate, Mr. Norquist says, Mr. Rovephoned him at home to draw his attention to the remarkand urge him to “put the word out” among Muslims. Mr.Rove says he doesn’t remember making such calls.”

The White House enthusiastically followed up on this pledge. In fact, according to Jake Tapper in Salon, President Bush was scheduled to meet with Muslim and Arab leaders at 3 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001–to update them on the progress the Administration had made in eliminating Clinton Administration anti-terrorism policies that had a disparate impact on Muslims!

Indeed, Florida college professor Sami Al-Arian claims, “At 3:30 [on 9-11] the president would have announced the end of secretevidence.”[Sept. 11 hurt aliens' rights, By Grace Agostin, University of South Florida Oracle, September 09, 2002] Al-Arian, whose brother-in-law Mazen al-Najjar had been locked up based onevidence supplied by a government informant inside a terrorist gang, campaigned for Bush in 2000 and had his picture taken with the candidate.

And Mary Jacoby reported in the St. Petersburg Times (March 11, 2003):

“In June 2001, Al-Arian was among members of theAmerican Muslim Council invited to the White Housecomplex for a briefing by Bush political adviser Karl Rove. The next month, the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom—a civil liberties group headed by Al-Arian—gave Norquist an award for his work to abolish the use of secret intelligence evidence in terrorism cases, a position Bush had adopted in the 2000 campaign.”

At that time, Al-Arian was under investigation for involvement with terrorists. He was indicted on 50 counts on February 20, 2003.

One obvious problem for the Rove-Norquist effort: many of the U.S.-based Muslim organizations that they hope to work with are funded by the rulers of the Persian Gulf oil states precisely to direct Muslim Arab discontent away from themselves and toward that convenient scapegoat, the West. As American Conservative Union President DavidKeene, wrote, “The problem is that moderate Muslims control few organizations and have virtually no voice. Most of them, in fact, know better than to challenge the Wahhabis.”

But Rove’s Muslim outreach plan also suffered all the characteristic problems of his other, more celebrated outreach strategies:

(1) Exaggeration of the potential gains.

(2) Failure at the ballot box.

(3) Underestimation of the electoral costs of irritating rival groups.

(4) (Most importantly,) utter disdain for the interests of the American people.

Let’s take them in order:

1. Exaggeration of the potential gains

Roveans typically make two mistakes when salivating over targeted ethnicities:

[A] Accepting bloated estimates of their numbers;

[B] Lumping together disparate, even hostile, groups.

[A] Bloated estimates. For example, the equally credulous commentator Michael Barone recently outlined the Rove rationale for Hispanic outreach in a piece called “Making New Amigos:”

“Hispanic immigrants are the fastest-growing andpolitically most fluid segment of the electorate. They were 7 percent of voters in 2000 and could be 9 percent in 2004…”

Bunk! No way, no how, will Hispanics (much less Barone’s “Hispanic immigrants”) account for 9 percent in 2004. If recent trends continue, they’ll barely break 6 percent.

Exactly the same goes for the estimates of Muslims in America put out by Muslim pressure groups—for example, Norquist’s IslamicInstitute’s claim of “more than five million.” The real number, according to a Center for Immigration Studies report by Daniel Pipes and Khalid Durán, is probably about three million.

[B] Lumping together disparate groups. Rove and Norquist put together a campaign aimed at Muslim Arabs. (That’s where themoney is!). They simply assumed this would make the GOP more appealing to Muslims and Arabs.

W-R-O-N-G! Most of those three million Muslims aren’t Arabs. Many are South Asians or Persians. Others are African-American converts. And most Arab-Americans aren’t Muslim. They’re Christians from the Levant.

Some of these Muslims have reasons to dislike Arabs. For example, Iran was attacked by Arab Iraq from 1980-1988. And lots of ChristianArab-Americans had relatives in Beirut who were shelled by Muslims from 1975-1991.

Many Christian Arabs, especially the ones whose ancestors came here before 1924, are well assimilated and just don’t care much aboutwhich party is playing the Arab ethnic card.

For example, can you name the other Arab-American Bush Cabinet appointee besides Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham?

Answer: Mitch Daniels, former head of the Office of Management & Budget, who is of Syrian descent. But he doesn’t make a big deal out of it. (Note how hard James Zogby of the Arab-American Institutehad to work in this column to show that Daniels cares at all about Arab issues, compared to Abraham.)

The actual number of individuals who are Muslims and Arab-Americans and voters is miniscule. The Muslim Arab population in the U.S. turns out to be only 600,000 according to Pipes and Duran . Because many of this 600,000 are non-citizens, children, or otherwise non-voters, the Muslim Arab proportion of the vote is probably under 0.3 percent.

Exactly the same is true, as I have pointed out repeatedly, of Hispanics. The Mexican-American bloc that Rove’s amnesty is targeting turns out to be an underwhelming 3.0 percent of the vote in 2000. And Rove assumes that he can please all the Hispanics by giving amnesty just to Mexicans—incredibly, since this means discriminatingagainst non-Mexican Hispanics.

Perhaps if the Bush Administration worked hard enough, it could start to unify these various groups into one domestic power bloc. Instead of”divide and conquer” strategy, this would be “unite and surrender.”

There is, indeed, some evidence this is happening following the Nixon Administration decision to treat “Hispanics” and “Asians” as catch-all categories for the purposes of the Census—and for Affirmative Action handouts.

But is it (ahem) prudent for Rove and Co. to turn Muslims immigrants into a bloc—especially considering the anti-Americanism rampant in their homelands?

2. Failure at the ballot box.

The Rove-Norquist Muslim outreach proved a bust in 2000. The only state where there are enough Muslims for it to make any sense at all was Michigan. Bush wound up losing Michigan. Spencer Abraham lost his U.S. Senate seat.

Nobody knows much about which way the national Muslim vote went—for a significant reason: it’s too small to be measured accurately—but prominent Arab Christian pollster John Zogby has said “My dataindicates that it was tilted Democratic in 2000. It went more for Gore and Nader than for Bush.” [National Review, March 19, 2003,Fight on the Right by Byron York]

And again, as we at VDARE.COM have pointed out repeatedly (sigh), the same is true for Hispanic outreach.

3. Irritating rival groups

Incredibly, Rove apparently didn’t grasp that pandering to Muslim Arabs would come at the cost of scaring their traditional adversaries, the Jews. Bush ended up with a dismal 17 percent of the Jewish vote. Jews don’t make up a huge voting bloc (4 percent in 2000) and theyare solidly Democratic. But they cast at least an order of magnitude more votes than Muslim Arabs. And the cost wasn’t just lost votes: in America, Jews are vastly more influential per capita than Muslim Arabs. Rove’s failure to consider this is a mystery.

4. Utter disdain for American interests.

Finally, there is Rove’s typical negligence of the needs of Americans as a whole—horribly illustrated by 9-11.

Why did the Administration’s cynical and catastrophic program of pandering to the Muslim-Arab vote by cutting back on security disappear down the national memory hole after 9-11-2001? The subject has only begun to be haltingly dredged up this year, with most of the criticism aimed at Norquist.

I suggest a simple psychological explanation: in a national crisis, you must hope that your President and his aides aren’t venal fools. It wastoo painful to remember that he and his top advisor had been pursuing—for trivial political reasons—a policy of proactive negligence toward Arab Muslim terrorism.

Maybe I’m just not a good team player. Here’s what I wrote on the evening of 9-11-2001

“On October 11, 2000, during the second presidential debate, the Republican candidate attacked two anti-terrorist policies that had long irritated Arab citizens of the U.S….

“…Bush conflated two separate policies that Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans felt discriminate against them: the heightened suspicions faced by Middle Eastern-looking travelers at airport security checkpoints and thegovernment’s use of ‘secret evidence’ in immigrationhearings of suspected terrorists.

“The day after Bush’s remarks, 17 American sailors died in a terrorist attack in the Arab nation of Yemen [carried out, we now know, by the same Al-Qaeda organization that blew up the World Trade Center]. …

“This year [2001], both Bush and his Attorney GeneralJohn Ashcroft have called for an end to racial profiling… Of course, if Arabs and Muslims are disproportionately more likely to hijack airliners, and the profiling system does not end up disproportionately targeting them, then the system wouldn’t work very well at preventing hijackings.

“To ensure that no disparate impact is occurring, the BushAdministration carried out in June [2001] a three-week study, first planned by the Clinton Administration, of whether or not profiling at the Detroit airport disparately impacts Arabs….

“Although [then-Senator Spencer] Abraham’s bill repealing the use of secret evidence died in 2000, during his confirmation hearing, Ashcroft endorsed the ban on secret evidence…

“As the practice has come under increasing attack, the number of Arab immigrants detained on secret evidence has dropped sharply. Hussein Ibish of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee told UPI in June [i.e. four months before 9-11]: ‘Two years ago there were 25 in prison. Now we’re down to only one.’

If, instead of putting its Muslim political ploy first, the Bush Administration had merely been as anti-terrorist as the Clinton Administration, could it have caught the Al-Qaeda terrorists?

We don’t know. But it’s not as if there had been no clues—for example, a month earlier, actor James Woods had figured out, all by himself, that a hijacking was in the works.

The Bush Administration has prudently resisted a full scale Congressional investigation.

But here’s another question: Would Karl Rove be considered a genius today if 9-11 hadn’t sparked a rally-round-the-President reaction in the 2002 election?

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Karl Rove, Muslim-Americans 
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Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidentialby James C. Moore and Wayne Slater, hardback, pp. 400

Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the RemarkablePolitical Triumph of George W. Bush by Lou Dubose, Jan Reid, and Carl M. Cannon, paperback, pp. 256

Humorist Dave Barry once explained why he is never comfortable in our nation’s capital, “When I’m in Washington, I always feel as though I’m the only person there who never ran for Student Council.” Karl Rove, who was elected class president in junior and senior high school, is much more at home.

Still, Rove hasn’t run for any office himself since getting elected national chairman of the College Republicans in 1973 with Lee Atwater’s help. The chubby and intense Rove lacks the looks and likeability an ambitious politician needs. So, he’s a natural staff man, one who understood his destiny early.

Apolitical, nonreligious Scandinavian parents raised Rove in Utah. He fell in love with Richard Nixon when he was ten. The more substantive of the two new Rove biographies, Bush’s Brain by James C. Moore and Wayne Slater, quotes Mark McKinnon, Rove’s TV ad maker: “Whenthe President was growing up, he wanted to be Willie Mays. But when Karl was growing up, he wanted to be senior adviser to the President.

Similarly, according to Boy Genius, a quickie biography of Rove by Lou Dubose, Jan Reid, Carl M. Cannon: “Once, during a panel discussion, … the moderator asked Rove when his obsession with being on the inside of presidential power and history began. Rove’s comeback was unhesitating: ‘December 25, 1950.’ It was the day he was born.”

Neither book does a good job of bringing to life Rove’s human side. Whether that’s because both authorial teams are biased against Republicans like Rove, or because Rove simply doesn’t have much of a human side, remains an open question. Still, both books furnish quitesimilar pictures of Rove’s career and character.

Ever since he moved to Texas in 1977 to help George H.W. Bush’s 1980 Presidential bid, Rove has displayed the perfect attributes for a consigliere to the Bush Family. He is intelligent, well read, organized,determined, no more truthful than he needs to be, and obsessively competitive. His second wife, Darby, told a reporter, “Even in croquet he’d be hitting my ball so far I was crying on vacation.”

One Texas lobbyist who has been both an ally and adversary of Rove down through the years remarked, “It is in Karl’s nature to engulf and devour and control and to rule.” A Republican friend and staunch Bush ally observed, “The problem with Karl is that his enemies list never ends. Once you’re on it, it does not end.”

Rove is especially vindictive toward fellow Republicans who get in his way. Rep. Tom Tancredo, head of the Congressional ImmigrationReform caucus and the main opponent of Rove’s so-far failed amnesty proposal for Mexican illegal aliens, is clearly a brave man.

The authors of both books act as if they have been cruelly disillusioned by their discoveries about Rove. More objective readers, however, won’t be terribly shocked to discover that this crafty political operator isn’t a nice guy.

Rove comes across in both Boy Genius and Bush’s Brain as a valuable dynastic retainer, but not somebody you’d care to pal around with. And that seems to be exactly the way he is treated by George W.Bush. One of the President’s most useful attributes is his hereditary aristocrat’s confidence that he just plain deserves to have more talented people than himself slaving away on his behalf. When Rove gets a little above himself, as he occasionally does when giving interviews to admiring reporters, Bush is quick to slap him back down into his place by switching Rove’s nickname from “boy genius” to “turd blossom.”

Here at, our primary objection to Rove’s influence has revolved around a single issue — immigration. We’ve no doubt spent far more time thinking about the subject than he has, but how can we be right and Rove be wrong when he’s a “genius”?

The assumption that Rove is an infallible megabrain largely rests on the presumption that Bush is such a moron that only a genius could have made him what he is today. In reality, Bush’s people skills in small settings are outstanding. Further, he absorbed and retained a lot from his Harvard Business School courses on structuring and managing organizations. And, he likes making decisions and doesn’t appear to lose sleep over them. People want that in a leader.

Finally, when it comes to raw IQ, Bush is in the mid-range of American Presidents. In 1999, Charles Murray and I calculated, based on Bush’s SAT score of 1206 (old-style scoring system), that his IQ was probably about 125 or a little higher, which would put him at least at the 95th percentile. In contrast, Gore was tested at 134, Nixon at 143, and Kennedy at 118. The late historian Jim Chapin told me during the 2000 campaign that he estimated Bush would rank in the secondquartile of all Presidents on IQ, and Gore in the third quartile.

On the downside, Bush doesn’t exercise his brain much by reading, as both books document. For somebody reasonably smart, he’s embarrassingly ignorant. My guess is that Bush feels that he must not strain himself mentally to the point where he might slip off the wagon;but I don’t know for sure: it’s hard to learn anything at all definite about the President’s battle with the bottle.

For example, Rove probably cost Bush the popular vote victory in the 2000 election by not demanding that his candidate reveal early on in the campaign that he was arrested in 1976 for drunk driving. Instead, the Democrats unveiled it at the perfect time: just before the election, when Rove was publicly predicting a six-point victory.

The evidence that Rove is more than just highly competent is thin. Rove’s ascent benefited from a hole opened up in the top ranks of Republican Party campaign management by the tragic death at age 40 of his mentor Atwater, a legendary wild man who seems far moredeserving of the “genius” title. Once Atwater was gone, Rove’s competition among Republican operators wasn’t that stiff. Why? Perhaps because Burkean conservatism is fundamentally about defending some non-politicized space where a person can have a life. Thus, there’s something more than a little contradictory about being both a conservative and a 168-hour per week political cadre like Rove.

Rove did manage quite a few Republicans to victory in Texas, but he was definitely being helped along by the political and demographic winds in the Lone Star State. About all you can say about his management of Bush’s 2000 race against Al Gore was that the Constitution mandates that somebody had to win. Rove’s decision tospend about $20 million in California was a particularly bad call. Rove had relatively little to do with the post-election legal maneuvering that eventually made Bush the President.

Much of Rove’s recent sky-high reputation, like his master’s, stems from the aftershocks of 9-11. Yet, while Rove has a finger in every pot in the White House, he’s less important on national security, which has been by far the most important engine of Bush’s popularity.

The odd thing is that 9-11 made much of the Rove’s agenda politically obsolete. For example, the first round of tax cuts had been justified as handing back to the public the budget surplus, which vanished along with the World Trade Center. Bush’s second round of tax cuts has taken a beating from Congressional Republicans because they make little political sense at this time when the White House has simultaneously stoked war fever so high that the public is in a mood to pay more.

Bush’s faith-based initiatives weren’t moving fast before 9-11, and then the Wahhabi terrorist attacks meant the taxpayers were in no mood to subsidize programs run by mosques. Similarly, the alliance between Rove and Grover Norquist to pander to Arab and Muslim voters, which led to Bush calling for relaxing anti-terrorist laws duringthe second presidential debate in 2000, didn’t survive 9-11.

Most spectacularly, Rove’s plan to reward Mexicans who had illegally crossed the border into America was dead in the water after 9-11. It had been listing severely even before then, as many Congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Tancredo, turned against it by August of 2001.

As I wrote on September 10, 2001:

“Bush’s unofficial point man on immigration in the House, Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, has signaled that he doesn’t want to try to introduce a bill until 2003, saying, “I don’t even know if we can get a bill in this Congress…

“It’s easy to see why Congressional Republicans lack enthusiasm [for the Administration's amnesty plan]. The short-term benefits to the Republican Party appear trivial at best, while the long-term costs could be substantial. As United Press International revealed in July, unpublished Census Bureau data shows that the size of the Mexican-American vote is much smaller than is widely imagined: only 3 percent in 2000. Moreover, 72 percent of Mexican-American voters live in California and Texas, two states whose electoral votes probably won’t be up for grabs in 2004. In the rest of the country, Mexican-Americans cast 1.1 percent of the votes. The overall Hispanic vote comprised 5.4 percent of the national total. While growing, it probably won’t exceed 6 percent by much in 2004. Not surprisingly, Congressional Democrats quickly met the president’s bid and raised it by offering to extend amnesty to all immigrant groups, not just Mexicans. Democrats have been more thrilled by amnesty than have Republicans because, in the long run, putting Mexican illegal aliens on the road to becoming American voters appears likely to help Democrats more. Over the past 40 years, no GOP presidential candidate has won more than 40 percent of the Mexican-American vote…

“So why did Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush braintrust misread the political situation? Why did the White House fail to anticipate Congressional Republicans’ concerns that amnesty would undermine the GOP? The Bush team appears to have been the victims of residing in an echo chamber with a mainstream media corps that — for reasons of innumeracy, fashion, self-interest, self-image and fear — failed to challenge the Bush advisers’ sloppythinking about immigration.”

In summary, the tragedies of the next day saved Rove from the massive public embarrassment of having Republicans in Congress openly revolt against the White House over amnesty. Instead, the Administration was able to quietly drop active support of the plan, leaving it to the hapless Democrat Dick Gephardt to imprudently introduce an amnesty bill just before the 2002 election.

So, Rove is indeed fallible, especially on immigration.

What was behind his politically misguided thinking? Unlike most journalists, Rove no doubt knew just how insignificant the Mexican-American vote is, and how crucial the white vote is. (In 2000, there were 27 non-Hispanic white voters for every Mexican voter!) Whenthe crunch came at the end of the 2002 campaign, Rove didn’t waste effort on Hispanics. Instead, he rolled out a huge get-out-the-vote drive in white neighborhoods. The non-appearance of the VNS exit polls deprived us of national demographics, but from my study of the results, I think it’s highly likely that, despite all the Bush-Rove blather about minority outreach, a lower percentage of the GOP’s vote came from minorities than in any recent election. Rove knows that Republicans win when whites (1.) turn out and (2.) vote Republican. Minority voters are essentially trivial. The Iraq issue excited whites last year, while leaving minorities, whose numbers at the polls declined, bored.

Judging from these two books, Rove, a man with a lot on his plate, spends almost no time thinking about immigration. When he does address it, it is mostly for disingenuous Dick Morris-style symbolic purposes. (Morris became famous for having Clinton endorse socially conservative “micropolicies” like uniforms for public school students.)

Moore and Slater quote an illuminating 1985 memo Rove wrote to his candidate Bill Clements, an ex-governor of Texas planning a comeback.

“The purpose of saying you gave teachers a record pay increase is to reassure suburban voters with kids, not to win the votes of teachers. Similarly, emphasizing your appointments of women and minorities will not win you the support of feminists and the leaders of the minority community; but it will bolster your support among Republican primary voters and urban independents.”

It’s easy to see how Rove similarly visualized his amnesty for illegal immigrants as a way to reassure nice people that Bush was nice. The problem with Rove amnesty, though, was that immigration is not amicropolicy like school uniforms. Immigration is a macropolicy, one that has as much long term impact on the nation as anything. It’s not suitable for political manipulators like Rove to play games with.

In conclusion, how could Rove’s undeniable talents be best put to work in the future in service to his country and party?

Strangely, the Bush Administration, since conquering its new Iraqi satrapy, has been acting towards it with a timid indecisiveness disturbingly reminiscent of the Carter years. Rather than declaring martial law and immediately demonstrating to Iraqis who is in charge,the White House adopted a hands-off, laissez-faire policy. This “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom” approach seemed to be based on the assumption that Iraq’s looting louts, clamorous clansmen, mad mullahs, and café conspirators were as ready for self-government as would be, say, American Republicans. Conversely, under Rove, the Bush Administration has treated American Republicans as if they were a treacherous conquered tribe that must be ruled with an iron rod.

Clearly, the ideal solution would be to ship Karl Rove to Baghdad–to serve as the First Viceroy of Mesopotamia.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Karl Rove 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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