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YES! Editorial: No more Rove to kick around

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It’s a sad week in the opinion department of YES! Weekly. We are not going to have Karl Rove to kick around any more.

His name has been popping up in this section since July 2005, back in the Downing Street Memo days, and we’ve lambasted him through Plamegate, Hurricane Katrina, the arrest of war protestors, federally-mandated wiretapping, Harriet Meiers, the US attorney firings and the continuing debacle of the war in Iraq.

And all the while some of us have harbored a grudging respect for the man called “Turd Blossom,” and not just because he was great fodder for the opinion mill.

The guy was loyal. He’s been associated with the Bush family since the Nixon era when George HW Bush, president of the Republican National Committee, cleared Rove’s name after accusations of dirty tricks in his takeover of the College Republicans; he’s known Bush the younger since 1973 and played a vital role in his election as governor of Texas in 1994. And he’s the last of the president’s Texas cohorts – save for Vice President Dick Cheney – to leave the fold.

He was capable. Rove helmed George W. Bush’s two successful presidential runs by expanding the base to include evangelical Christians and other moral-issue voters, and then vilifying the opposition – anyone who was critical of the president and his policies – in a classic divide-and-conquer strategy that will likely become a fixture in future campaigns.

He kept his hands clean. At 19 years of age, Rove was caught in what he called a “political prank” – swiping letterhead stationery from a rival campaign, using it for flyers promising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing” and posting them all over Chicago. Since then there have been suspicions and accusations – does he leak information to GOP-friendly press? Did he falsify the documents that led to Dan Rather’s exit from CBS News? Was he behind the US attorney firings? – but Rove has not taken a political fall in 35 years.

He was ruthless in the persecution of his enemies, even burying members of his own beloved party when they came up against his guy. When Sen. John McCain began gaining ground in the 2000 primaries, a push poll was utilized insinuating that McCain had fathered an illegitimate child. And when Bush ran against Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat, in Texas, a similar push poll surfaced, this one alleging that her campaign staff was “dominated” by lesbians. Neither rumor was true, but both served their purpose.

And finally, Rove had impeccable timing. This second Bush presidency coincided with the retirement of Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, allowing Rove to advise the president on the placement of two Supreme Court justices.

He also leaves the post while in defiance of a congressional subpoena in the US attorney firings. But in a typical display of hubris and entitlement, he feels he is protected from testifying in perpetuity by executive privilege. And smart money says he’ll never get on that stand.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration.

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