It’s been a tough week in public relations for Karl Rove. First, the Tea Party Patriots objected to Rove’s criticism of extreme rhetoric from grassroots organizations by, er, putting him in a Nazi uniform in an e-mail — for which they apologized, but not before making Rove’s case. At nearly the same time, Bob Woodward painted Rove’s efforts to find prepared Republican candidates as an attempt to create an establishment “politburo” within the GOP, which Rove angrily denounced on Fox’s Hannity last night:
Karl Rove is defending his new super PAC’s intention to get involved in primaries, and criticized Bob Woodward’s assertion that he was creating a “politburo.”
“[Bob] Woodward goes on Fox News Sunday and calls me a member of the Politburo,” Rove said on Fox News’ “Hannity.” “The last time I checked the Politburo was the ruling body of the Soviet Communist party and oversaw the extermination of tens of millions of people and during the Cold War threatened the United States with nuclear annihilation and just because Woodward is a center-left journalist, he can get away with calling me a communist and nobody is bothered by this.”
Woodward was critical of Rove’s new super PAC, the Conservative Victory Project, during his Sunday appearance, arguing it was against Republican traditions.
“You’re going to set yourself up as a kind of Politburo vetting these candidates,” Woodward said. “I mean, the whole theory of Republicanism is to let the local, state or district decide.”
I’m afraid I don’t know what Woodward is talking about here. Rove didn’t invent the independent PAC, not even within the GOP. Both parties have a number of outside groups that provide funding to candidates in primaries and general elections. Rove may be better organized than most, but it’s not a novelty, and since it’s not part of the Republican Party, it’s not a politburo, either — not even figuratively.
Maybe Woodward missed this for the last hundred cycles or so, but politicians who want to seek higher office are often judged on their effectiveness in interceding in primaries. In fact, that’s practically a fantasy league for earlier presidential handicapping. The local and state voters decide, but neither Republicans nor Democrats have ever been non-interventionists when it comes to flexing political muscle at any level. Woodward has confused governing principles with election principles.
Frankly, I don’t get the angst over Rove’s PAC. No one is forced to contribute to his PAC, so the people sending him cash must appreciate his efforts, as do the candidates receiving the donations. Those who dislike Rove’s choices can organize for other candidates. It’s no different than what has transpired in every election in recent memory, and it’s not the same as having official party orgs like the NRSC intervene in primary contests, which really is an establishment-control issue.
Here’s the full clip from Rove’s appearance last night, courtesy of Mediaite. Does the revelation that Rove spent nearly $6 million in support of Richard Mourdock last year temper any hard feelings over Rove’s new direction?