VanityFair: Karl Rove's Split Personality

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VanityFair: Karl Rove's Split Personality

Postby rain » Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:43 pm

Karl Rove's Split Personality<br>Armed with a vast new database, White House strategist Karl Rove has carved America into ever narrower slices, sharpening conflicts that drive voters his way. A lifelong strategy with roots in his childhood, it has won him fame, fear, and even the toughest elections. Now he's facing its limits.<br>by Todd S. Purdum December 2006 <br><br>: The 34 Steps<br>In the five years my family has lived in a quiet corner of northwest Washington, our neighbors have included the secretary of homeland security, the executive editor of The Washington Post, the junior senator from Texas, a former White House chief of staff, the ambassador to the United Nations, and the general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission. But, as far as I know, only one of them has ever carried our newspapers up the 34 steps from the driveway to our front porch when we were away on vacation and forgot to stop delivery. His name is Karl Rove. And I know that he did so only because he made it his business to tell me.<br><br>"You have the second-most-expensive house on the block after Don Riegle," he said in an adenoidal bellow when he called me once about a story I was reporting, "and you can't pick up your own papers?" I have no idea whether this claim is true, or whether Rove came to his view by consulting tax records, real-estate listings, or simply his gut. But, in a single sentence, he marked me as a limousine liberal, associated me with a former senator caught up in an influence-peddling scandal, and suggested that I was a sloppy householder. It was friendly. Funny. But the unmistakable effect was to assert control: of the conversation, the situation, and me.<br><br>It turns out that the man who helped make micro-targeting of the electorate a winning art knows a lot about his neighbors. The instinct for categorization—for finding, probing, classifying, and ultimately harvesting voters according to minute gradations of preference—has made Karl Rove the power in politics that he is today, and he can't seem to help applying these methods to his own backyard. Most people pigeonhole their neighbors with a casual shorthand: we know them as teachers or lawyers, as tall or short, as pleasant or irascible. Rove is different. Talking with him one morning not long ago, I listened as he offered a household-by-household overview of the neighborhood, its residents broken down according to national origin, ethnicity, education, political affiliation, and career history. You or I might speak of "the Joneses at No. 42." Rove is more likely to refer to the Irish/Jordanian, Princeton/Oxford, pro-choice, World Bank–economist couple with the vacation home in the Shenandoahs, where they keep their battered second Volvo, the one with the Rehoboth Beach parking decal.<br><br>I'm exaggerating—a little. Rove is not quite the neighborhood's Professor Moriarty, at the center of the web, sensing every slight tremor of the distant filaments. But not much escapes his relentless, wire-rimmed eyes. Just around the corner there's the family with a Soap Box Derby car that caught Rove's attention last May. "Sir or Madam," Rove wrote to the occupants of that house on a White House note card, "I don't know if it was coincidence or intention, but I appear to share the name of your Derby car. May your path be fast and true, and may you arrive at the finish line well ahead of your competitors. Sincerely, Karl Rove. (Known in early years as 'Rover.')" Welles Orr, a Republican lobbyist whose firm made the car during a team-building retreat, told me that it had indeed been christened K-ROVE-R in honor both of Rove and of Washington's K Street corridor, where lobby shops and interest groups have their offices; the name is stenciled in block letters on the car's side. Orr was naturally surprised to get Rove's note, its envelope plastered with a hodgepodge of vintage stamps from his collection, including an eight-center with a stylized image of a bobsled, commemorating the Sapporo Olympics, in 1972. But the main cause for astonishment was this: "I kept thinking," Orr recalls, "How does he know? Because it's under heavy plastic tarp in our driveway."<br><br>For the past six years, Karl Christian Rove, senior adviser to the president, has asserted control over much of American politics, guiding George W. Bush to election, to re-election, and to highly atypical success in between, in the bitterly contested midterm elections of 2002. He has done so one demographic group, one wedge issue, sometimes virtually one block at a time. The big question this fall is whether he can do it again, in the midterm elections, for a Republican Party whose president has become one of the most unpopular and polarizing political figures in recent history. Predicting the outcome of dozens of individual congressional and Senate races is notoriously difficult—much harder than gauging the direction of a national presidential race—and this year's environment is unusually unsettled. The congressional-page scandal involving Representative Mark Foley, of Florida, and the failure of the Republican leadership to deal with it in a timely way, are dark clouds. So are the revelations in Bob Woodward's State of Denial, notably the assertion that, two months before 9/11, Condoleezza Rice brushed off warnings about an al-Qaeda attack, and the further substantiation that Bush and his aides have not leveled with the public about our failures in Iraq. If protecting voters and their values is the G.O.P.'s big sales pitch this fall, news like this is badly off message.<br><br>But substance aside, the midterm elections will also be a verdict on Rove's very methods. In politics, as in science, there are "lumpers" and "splitters"—those who consolidate, and those who discriminate; those who celebrate the inherent similarities among voles or voters, and those who relish the differences. Most of American politics is a story of divisions along existing fault lines: Hamiltonians versus Jeffersonians, Yankees versus Confederates, progressives versus mossbacks, internationalists versus isolationists. The nature of America's strong two-party system means that the electorate almost always has to split in two (and not into three, as in Britain, or into a dozen, as in Israel). But there have been moments when powerful forces and charismatic figures have combined to forge new coalitions that reconfigured prevailing party alignments and upended long-held assumptions. In the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the greatest lumper of all, building a governing consensus that lasted for the better part of 50 years, until Ronald Reagan, another major-league lumper, came along and replaced it with a new coalition built in part on disaffected former Democrats like himself.<br><br>Karl Rove has always been a splitter. He doesn't have to think about it; it is the core of his being. In Rove's eyes, everyone is a micro-target. For his note to the neighbor with the sleek, competitive Soap Box Derby car, he went and found a stamp showing a sleek, competitive bobsled. For a note to the longtime New York Times reporter R. W. Apple Jr., a few months before his recent death from cancer, Rove used a 1976 stamp commemorating the newspaper's patriarch, Adolph Ochs. Early in his career, Rove became an expert in direct-mail techniques, fine-tuning just the right messages to move just the right voters at just the right time. As a political operative he has always played up to the line, if not over it. He has always found villains—gays, unions, trial lawyers, liberals, elitists, terrorists—that his candidates could use both to crack the electorate at a vulnerable spot and to define themselves in sharp relief. It was Rove who introduced the late Lee Atwater, his cutthroat colleague from their days as College Republicans, to the first President Bush, and it was Rove who played a decisive role in turning Texas into the solidly Republican state it is today. As much as anyone, it was Rove who made a once implausible governor of Texas into the president of the United States.<br><br>pg 1 of 7 ....<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: VanityFair: Karl Rove's Split Personality

Postby greencrow0 » Thu Nov 02, 2006 1:05 pm

<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>Scarey!</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END--><br><br>thanks for posting this rain, I'll read it when I get home from work tonight.<br><br>gc <p></p><i></i>
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