Drawing in the cantankerous Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, Rove had even consolidated the money under his power. He has co-opted the Tea Party, defanging the uncontrollable elements in it, marginalizing their leaders and seizing their resources. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry had been consigned to the dustbin of history. Mitt Romney was forever indebted to Rove. He had built his new machine into a ruthlessly efficient political operation outside, above, and, finally subsuming the party structure, beholden to no one but himself. . .
—From Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power by Craig Unger
Scott Horton, columnist at Harper’s, asks Craig Unger six questions about his new book, Boss Rove. His answers will make your hair stand on end. Karl Rove, the ruthless political operative who fell from grace after the 2008 election, is back—and he is more powerful than ever—thanks to right wing money unleashed by the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision.
Unger confirms what most of us intuitively understand: that Reince Priebus, the new chairman of the RNC, is nothing more than a media attack-dog, a kind of yapping poodle. He runs nothing. Karl Rove, although operating in secret and outside of it, is the alpha dog and de facto head of the GOP. He is the money and power behind Mitt Romney’s campaign. He decides who has a voice in the party, and who doesn’t. His billionaire donors are counting on him, the ultimate master of dirty tricks, to deliver the election. Rove, who seems to have no moral core whatsoever, who started his dubious political career in college smearing Democrats and “ratfucking” for Nixon, who with the help of Neoconservative war mongers promoted an ill-prepared frat boy to the presidency, has dedicated his life to handing the country over to wealthy sociopaths.
Rove’s intention to use the more than $1 billion now under his control to manipulate the upcoming election with massive media buys in the eight battleground states poses a grave threat to what’s left of our democracy. For a host of reasons—his involvement in outing CIA operative Valerie Plame, his use of the Republican funded computer company SmarTech to corrupt elections and hide email evidence, his use of the Justice Department to frame former Alabama governor Don Siegelman—Rove belongs in prison. But, he has escaped that fate because, like a brilliant character in a crime novel, he is a master at keeping his fingerprints off his dirty operations.
Welcome to the real world of the 2012 election
We won’t know until it’s over how effective unlimited money, fear mongering, and repeated bald faced lies are in swinging an election. But even though Rove is to be feared, it’s important to remember this: the Republican Party has nothing to offer the American people. Nothing. For example, consider the hastily devised convention slogan “We Built It.” It refers to the Ayn Rand fantasy that every wealthy person made it completely on their own, without government help. The truth is that many “built” their businesses with generous tax subsidies, government loans and contracts, and of course, tax loopholes unavailable to the ordinary person. They also took advantage of tax supported infrastructure and government services.
If Democrats get it together, grow a spine, and align themselves with the majority; if they expose the lies, and offer substantive polices that help working families, (like forcing banks to deal with mortgages); if they start to communicate and actually explain Obamacare (which they have started to do); if they carefully monitor and vigorously fight vote tampering and voter suppression efforts (which they have been doing); if they reinvigorate the Democratic base that put Obama in office in 2008 (the first day of the Democratic convention suggests they could), then Barack Obama will win the election in spite of Karl Rove and the deep pockets of the Koch Brothers.
If Obama wins (and I think he will), because the Democrats will have been outspent, the victory will be especially sweet. An Obama victory will mean our democracy, currently on life support, has temporarily rallied. But, to make sure Karl Rove doesn’t rise again in 2014 or 2016 like a vampire from the ashes of his smoldering “secret kingdom of power,” his life force, Citizen’s United, must be repealed. And that’s a tall order.