Tag Archives: Karl Rove

How bad will it get?

Karl Rove, the man once known derisively as “George W. Bush’s brain,” has laid out what he believes will occur when they count the midterm election ballots in November.

He writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Even Democratic strategists now admit the midterms will be disastrous for their party. “It’s going to be a terrible cycle for Democrats,” Doug Sosnik, one of the party’s best grand strategists, recently told the New York Times. The question is how big the calamity will be. A freeway pileup? Category 5 hurricane? Or Krakatoa with all the attendant consequences?

I do not intend to question the sincerity of Sosnik’s assertion, as reported by Rove, but it kind of begs a question that’s been rattling around my brain for the past few weeks.

It goes like this: Might it be even remotely possible that Democratic strategists are laying out a worst-case scenario with a glimmer of hope that if their losses are less than expected that they can claim a sort of moral victory?

Or, there’s this: Is it possible that the gloom-doom-despair prognosis is hiding some positive outcome, that Democrats actually could retain control of one of the congressional chambers?

I realize that politics can be a cynical game. Politicians and their hired guns — be they Democrat or Republican — look for any angle they can find to suit their agenda.

Since I am perched in the cheap seats out here in Flyover Country, I am nowhere close to the heartbeat of the nation’s political center. I am just wondering whether there could be a bit of gamesmanship being played.

These things do happen. I am just sayin’, man.


Imagine top aides for Obama, ‘W’ turning on the boss

Stephen Bannon’s assertion in a new book that Donald Trump Jr. might have committed an act of “treason” by meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 brings to mind a fascinating observation.

It didn’t come from me originally. I heard it from Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN. Toobin said it would be unconscionable for David Axelrod to turn on Barack Obama or Karl Rove to do the same thing to George W. Bush.

Those two former White House strategists and key political aides were loyal to the boss and remain so to this day. Bannon presents another situation altogether.

He has said that Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian legal eagle constituted potentially “unpatriotic” and “treasonous” activity. They met, according to a book, “Fire and Fury,” written by David Wolff, to discuss dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton. The inference is that Don Jr. might have colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

The revelation made public has enraged the president. He says Bannon “lost his mind” when he was fired from his job as chief strategist for Donald Trump. He argues that Bannon had little influence or impact on the White House.

We might be witnessing an unprecedented unraveling of a presidential administration. It does appear to be unusual in the extreme that someone who once had the president’s ear to turn on him in the manner that has occurred.

What’s more, the reaction from the president does have the appearance of near-panic within the White House.

Toobin does pose a fascinating query. Can you imagine Presidents Obama and Bush being torpedoed in this fashion?

I cannot.

Liberals should heed advice from one of their own


Nicholas Kristof makes no apologies for being a liberal thinker.

Nor should he. The New York Times columnist, though, offers a serious word of caution to his fellow liberals and progressives: If you mean what you say about demanding diversity in all aspects of contemporary life, then do not shut out those ideas with which you disagree.

Kristof’s essay in the Sunday New York Times echoes a recurring theme on which he has written before.

He chides universities and colleges for becoming echo chambers, for demonstrating unwillingness to hear thoughts expressed by those on the right, even the far right.

He says this about his fellow liberals: “We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.”

Ouch, man!

He’s correct. We see this played out on occasion when universities invite noted conservatives to speak on their campuses. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been victimized by outrage expressed by liberal faculty members and student body officers; so has Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration.

Even here in the Texas Panhandle, when one-time Bush presidential strategist Karl Rove was invited a few years ago to deliver a speech at a West Texas A&M University graduation event, you’d have thought WT had invited the spawn of Satan himself, based on some of the reaction.

Kristof has delivered a sound message for all his fellow liberals to heed. If you truly want diversity of thought and opinion, then open your own eyes, ears … and minds.

As Kristof writes: “It’s ineffably sad that today ‘that’s academic’ often means ‘that’s irrelevant.’ One step to correcting that is for us liberals to embrace the diversity we supposedly champion.”

Amen, brother.

Liberal offers an instructive scolding to liberals


When a conservative scolds liberals about being intolerant, one can chalk it up to sour grapes or to the bias of the person doing the scolding.

The same can be said when the roles are reversed.

However, when a liberal scolds liberals — or when a conservative scolds his or her brethren — that gets people’s attention.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has offered an interesting lecture about liberal intolerance.

Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/opinion/sunday/a-confession-of-liberal-intolerance.html?_r=0

He says liberal thinkers are none too tolerant of conservative thinkers on our nation’s higher education campuses. The intolerance undercuts liberals’ time-honored call for greater “diversity” of thought.

Hmmm. He’s suggesting that liberals want diversity as long as it agrees with their world view.

College and university campuses have erupted over many years when administrators invite conservatives to speak at, say, convocations or commencement exercises. Kristof’s essay talks about the reluctance of higher ed institutions to hire conservatives as faculty members.

Even in politically conservative regions, such as the Texas Panhandle, we’ve seen similar reactions to the presence of conservatives on college campuses.

Do you remember the mini-uproar that boiled up years ago when West Texas A&M University invited Karl Rove — the architect of President George W. Bush’s winning campaigns — to speak at an event honoring WT graduates? Some faculty officials disliked having Rove speak to the students.

Universities ought to welcome, embrace, even solicit differing — and diverse — points of view.

According to Kristof, though, they’ve become havens for liberal/progressive thinkers who dislike mingling with those on the other side of the fence.

Message received, Mr. Kristof.


Rove: Trump has ‘peaked’


Let’s be sure to take any political prediction by Karl Rove with a generous dose of salt.

Not just a grain, mind you.

I’m not willing to bet the ranch that Donald J. Trump has “peaked,” which Rove has suggested. Trump’s peak was supposed to be at the mid-20 percentage point mark. He’s now at 30-plus percent in most Republican presidential polls.

Now we hear from Rove — who “predicted” that Mitt Romney would win the presidency in a landslide four years ago — suggesting that Trump’s support isn’t going to grow.

This election cycle has produced the most maddening series of events imaginable. I cannot remember a presidential campaign that’s been weirder than this one. Not 1968, or 1972, or 1980, or 1992, or 2000.

As a friend and former colleague told me this morning at Amarillo College, we are seeing the effects of “popular culture” on the American electorate.

I don’t know if I want Rove to be right or wrong. If he’s wrong, then Trump will get the GOP presidential nomination this summer. If he’s right, then who rises to the top? To whom do Republicans turn?

Is this guy, Rove, the final authority on these things?

His recent track record isn’t so great.


Rove: Trump as GOP nominee would be disastrous


Karl Rove came to Amarillo to hawk a book and to speak to an organization called the Senate 31 Club, which is run by the office of state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo.

Seliger inherited the club from his predecessor, the late Teel Bivins.

And today, he brought in the man known around the country as “Bush’s Brain,” as Rove helped elect George W. Bush twice as Texas governor and twice more as president of the United States.

Rove is considered one of the smarter political operatives around.

His view of the crazy race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination?

He got right to the point today during a luncheon in the packed main dining room at the Amarillo Country Club in which he talked about his latest book, “The Triumph of William McKinley.” Seliger asked Rove to offer a comment on the current campaign

“If Donald Trump wins the nomination his chances of being elected president are slim and none,” Rove said.

The real estate mogul/reality TV star’s poll negatives are the highest among any of the remaining GOP candidates, Rove said. He continues to trail the still-presumed Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, in every poll taken.

I found it interesting that Rove would bring up Trump’s four bankruptcy filings, suggesting — to me, at least — that they will be factor that kills Trump’s chances of ever attaining the Oval Office.

The Democrats, Rove said, “will find every paint contractor, lawn care person, anyone who got screwed in these bankruptcies and put them on TV.”

If it’s Trump leading the Republican ticket this fall, the party stands a good chance of losing control of the Senate. The key race there? Florida, said Rove, which will have an open Senate seat because Marco Rubio — who’s also running for president — isn’t seeking re-election.

“If we don’t win Florida, we don’t keep the Senate,” Rove said.

Rove didn’t get into why Trump continues to lead the pack. He didn’t explain the candidate’s curious appeal to the “base” of a once-great political party.

I’m continuing to wonder whether that curious thing called “political gravity” will pull Trump back to Earth. However, given what’s transpired so far in this wild-and-crazy campaign, I’m not willing to wager that the Republican Party that many of us remember will be able to gather its wits in time to stop Donald J. Trump.

Another giant passes from the scene

Like any lawyer, Jerry Johnson knew the jokes about his profession.

He could recite them all, even though they were countless.

He could laugh at them, knowing full well that he really didn’t fit the mold.

The great man wasn’t brash. He wasn’t conceited. He wasn’t a fast-talker.

Jerry Johnson instead was a man of high honor, integrity, humility and if you were in a hurry to get a quick answer from him, well, forget about it. It took Johnson a while to get his point across. His drawl was as slow and fluid as they come.

Amarillo lost a gigantic figure in its legal community with Johnson’s death.

Me? I lost a friend, a great source for all things political and someone with whom I occasionally shared some political commonality.


Jerry was a dedicated Democrat. He cherished his friendship with, say, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson … to name perhaps the state’s most high-profile powerhouse Democratic couple. He also had friends on the other side of the aisle.

I recall attending an event in Johnson’s honor, commemorating his many years as a lawyer at the Underwood firm. Texas Comptroller John Sharp made the trip from Austin to salute Johnson. One dignitary couldn’t be there, but someone read a letter from him. It came from Karl Rove, the Republican political genius and architect of George W. Bush’s two successful campaigns for Texas governor and, oh yes, his two successful campaigns for president of the United States.

Democrat or Republican, they all respected and admired Jerry Johnson.

We’d have lunch on occasion and we’d go over the political doings of the day. He’d grouse about Republicans, praise Democrats. He actually asked my opinion on this or that. I’d give it to him and this wise and gentle man would actually listen — as in actually pay attention.

The Amarillo Globe-News named him Man of the Year in the 1990s and later included him in its list of the Panhandle’s most influential people.

He was a huge presence and was the personification of integrity and honor.

My favorite comment from those who remembered Johnson comes from Amarillo lawyer Selden Hale, who said: “If you had to pick a daddy and couldn’t pick your own, he would be the one I’d pick.”

Yep. Amarillo’s heart today has a huge hole in it.

Listen to one of your own, GOP, on 'Obamacare'

Brent Budowsky is singing Karl Rove’s praises.

And why not? Budowsky is an economist of some repute and is a former aide to the late, great U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas. He thinks Rove — aka “Bush’s Brain” — is spot on in telling his fellow Republicans to give their futile effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a loser. Any remote chance the GOP has of tossing the ACA aside is going to cost them dearly, especially when — in Budowsky’s eyes — the first person dies because he or she is denied affordable health insurance because Republicans have won their fight to repeal the ACA.


And why should the GOP high command listen to Rove?

Easy. The man’s a brilliant political strategist.

He helped engineer George W. Bush’s winning campaigns for Texas governor (in 1994) and two successful races for the presidency (in 2000 and 2004). The governor’s race should have been in the bag for the incumbent, the late Democrat Ann Richards. Rove came up with a strategy that held Bush to a tightly scripted line of specific issues and reforms he would enact if elected governor. He never veered off the script as he went on to defeat Richards.

The man knows a winning political cause and a losing cause as well as anyone.

As Budowsky writes in The Hill: “Rove’s surrender to ObamaCare, advising Republicans against pretending they would repeal ObamaCare, is politically very wise. Rove’s fear about what happens to Republicans if the court does overturn ObamaCare provisions and the world witnesses horror stories of Americans being hurt because of Republican anti-ObamaCare politics — without any Republican policy to undo the damage — is politically brilliant.

“Imagine daily stories on television about very ill Americans being stripped of healthcare, about children losing their insurance because they would no longer be covered by their parent’s policies, about Americans with preexisting conditions being thrown to the insurance wolves without ObamaCare, and about huge insurance premium increases that would punish many millions of Americans because of the Republican war against ObamaCare.”

Budowsky also predicts that the Supreme Court is going to uphold the ACA when it rules on its constitutionality before the end of the court’s current term.

Pay attention. Karl Rove might not be every American’s favorite operative/pundit/talking head. Howeve, he is wise to counsel his fellow Republicans to give up a fight they’re certain to lose.


Rectal feedings were 'necessary'?

Someone will have to explain to me how the practice of “rectal feeding” becomes a medical necessity.

Yet it’s a practice that Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove defended this morning on Fox News Sunday.


The term was revealed in that Senate Intelligence Committee report on the treatment of terror suspects by the Bush administration immediately after the 9/11 attacks. One of the revelations is the practice of “rectal feeding,” which Rove said this morning was a “medical necessity.” The report issued by the Intelligence Committee’s Democratic members said otherwise.

Maybe I don’t get out much, but this practice is new to me.

As I understand it, the procedure involves pureeing food and then inserting it into individuals’ rectum. This is how suspects are, um, fed by their captors. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s apparently quite a painful process. It inflicts misery on those receiving these food injections.

If the suspect is refusing to eat as a form of protest, aren’t there other ways to “feed” them? Sedation, perhaps, and an intravenous line inserted into their arm would seem to do the trick.

The Senate report suggests the procedure was meant to torture the suspects and to get them to reveal battle plans or other “actionable intelligence” to which our military and spooks could respond.

It seems to me that rectal feeding goes a good bit beyond what is acceptable.

Leave it, though, to Karl Rove to defend, as necessary, a practice that is ay beyond disgusting.


Rove calls Holder a 'hack'

That’s the spirit, Karl Rove.

When Eric Holder, the attorney general of the United States steps down after nearly six years of service to the country, “Bush’s Brain” Rove calls him a “partisan hack.”


Therein lies a big part of the problem with today’s political debate. You have differences with an administration and then as the nation’s top lawyer steps down you inflame those differences with a statement that is stunning in its lack of self-awareness.

It’s been part and parcel of the right’s reaction to Holder’s impending departure. An editorial in my local newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News, spent a good deal of space condemning him for various perceived and alleged errors while on the job. It made no mention of his sincere commitment to voting rights for all Americans.

As for Rove, the godfather of partisan hacks everywhere, it galls me to no end that he would hang that label on someone else.

The big picture at times is just too complete and puts too much context on someone’s public service to suit some of us.