George Plays Dumb as Dick Plays Dirty. Welcome Back, Karl!

I was beginning to get worried. For a while there it seemed like our political arch nemesis was permanently out of touch.

I mean, how could we fully appreciate what is right and proper in public discourse if our reference point for all that is sick and twisted and just plain evil in the world of politics suddenly disappeared?

But apparently, breathing a sigh of relief after dodging (at least for now) an indictment years in the making, Karl Rove is back. With a vengeance (as if it could be any other way).

The days of Karl having to constantly worry that special prosecutor Fitzgerald had wiped enough sand out of his eyes to see what had actually gone on in the outing of Plame seem to be over (at least for now).

The president’s political opponents can expect no more free rides, of P.R. disasters in the wake of natural disasters, of Supreme Court nominees taken out by friendly fire from the Right, of presidential poll numbers in utter free fall.

No, Karl Rove is apparently back in the saddle again, and in fine form, although operating, true to form, behind the scenes (Think “The Wizard Oz” in reverse: the face to the world that of an avuncular soul; the man behind the curtain crazed with the power to crush any and all who dare to oppose the Great Rove).

Just consider the rapid response the White House mounted to the recent spate of criticisms from the Democrats, complaints that resonate so well with the public that they had — and still do have — the potential to bring down this administration; and tell me you do not see the fingerprints of Karl, the master of deceit, all over the well-orchestrated, quickly evolving (intelligently designed?) counter-offensive.

The central attack on Bush came on the issue of his honesty and trustworthiness. Polls showed that most Americans now believe he intentionally lied about the claims that led us into war. Putting aside for the moment the mounting evidence that that was indeed the case — for although “facts may be stubborn things,” they are ultimately simply “bothersome things” for the hypocritical megalomaniacs that captain our ship of state, this ship of fools — the fundamental political problem for any leader is that if no one believes him, no one will follow him … into either heaven or hell.

And we know in which direction the Right is leading us now (Does it feel warm to you, or is it just me?).

So what’s a tinhorn dictator from West Texas to do? Why, turn to his trusty ol’ sidekick, of course (Does it smell like turdblossom to you, or is it just me?).

After WMDs turned out to be as AWOL as a congressman’s son bangin’ coeds in Alabama, after memos from Downing Street made Watergate look like child’s play, after Curveball was exposed to be as unreliable as a Scottie McClellan denial du jour, the issue became a stark choice.

The president was either a liar or a fool.

Oh, sure, you could attack the messenger. But there comes a point where the consequences of all your lies become so offensive that you need to Swift Boat those who were once your own defenders. And true hawks eat chickenhawks for breakfast.

Which brings Karl back to the unpleasant duty, as presidential image-maker in chief, of having to define his old pal George as either the world’s biggest liar or the world’s biggest fool (My money’s on both, but that’s beside the point).

Well, after being conspicuously absent from the limelight for quite some time, Dick “19% of the public still loves me” Cheney has embarked upon a tour of “truth,” in which he takes every opportunity (in front of friendly audiences of course) to condemn exposing the truth about what the president knew and when he knew it as “revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety,” even as the administration continually attempts to rewrite the history of why we went to war in the first place.

George Orwell only wished he was as creative a writer as Karl Rove (or whoever is writing this stuff for the GOP, including John “It is a lie to say that the president lied to the American people” McCain).

So … if George was not a liar, then the only way that he could have misled us into war despite all the warnings from the intelligence community that he was receiving from Washington to Berlin was if he was a …

Because my momma taught me long ago never to call an idiot a fool, I will simply refer you to the perhaps most publicized image of the president’s recent junket to China: You know, the picture where poor ol’ George picks the wrong door to get out of the room, away from those naughty ol’ reporters hounding him with questions, way off in that foreign land.

Oh, the face that he makes! I haven’t laughed so hard since good ol’ Inspector Clouseau made the same mistake (“the old closet ploy”)! He might have been hapless, but he was harmless. And he always got his man.

Now, I’m not saying that Karl Rove wrote a script a la Blake Edwards (Sometimes a gaffe is just a gaffe); but against the background of the vice president’s remarks (repeating what Bush himself had said before he left), it does ironically work to the president’s advantage: After the spin cycle (My favorite was David Letterman joking that Bush had no “exit strategy” in China either!), we are left with the impression of a president who is not a liar but just a fool — not exactly a flattering portrait but the lesser of the two political evils with which he has been most recently and devastatingly tarred.

Likewise, the president’s policy in Iraq — if you can call murder and mayhem intermingled with chaos and corruption, costing tens of thousands of lives and limbs and hundreds of billions of dollars, with no end in sight, a “policy” — has come to be seen by many not as some sort of Machiavellian intrigue but as a rather Shakespearean tragedy:

“A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
— Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

Although to be more metaphorically precise, in Iraq we have “a tiger by the tail” — we’re damned if hold on, fomenting insurgency, and we’re damned if we let go, having created another Afghanistan, a breeding ground for terrorists, where none existed beforehand … in truth.

You remember truth, don’t you? The first casualty of war. And the last refuge of peace.

Doug Drenkow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook