Why in the hell is Karl Rove on my TV? Why is Karl Rove on my radio? Why is Karl Rove on anywhere? Unless he’s on trial or being interrogated, I can’t imagine of what possible use this George W. Bush relic could be to conservatives and yet he’s everywhere, hocking his book “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” a title as credibly right-wing as Stephen Colbert and as historically accurate as the movie “Titanic.” Craig Shirley and former Reagan official Donald Devine summed up Rove’s duplicity well in this week’s Washington Post:
“From William F. Buckley Jr. to Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan, the creators of the modern conservative movement always taught that excessive concentration of power in government leads inevitably to corruption and the diminution of personal freedoms. But while Rove credits these leaders for shaping his early political views — “at the age of thirteen, I was wild for Barry Goldwater,” he writes — he did not pursue their values while in the White House. To the contrary, as the chief political architect of the Bush presidency, Rove was instrumental in directing an administration most notable for its enormous expansion of national government.”
Given his big government record, you’d think Rove might be treated as a Republican Judas by conservatives, and yet Rush Limbaugh-who rarely has guests-gave the former Bush adviser a full hour to promote his book, and Rove appears on Sean Hannity’s program so often you’d think he was Alan Colmes’ replacement.
Are these conservatives kidding?
The inability of mainstream conservatives to separate their philosophy from the Republican Party is nothing new, but the degree to which the GOP can expand government without any retribution from supposedly conservative pundits continues to boggle the mind. One must assume that for many right-wingers, conservatism would no longer be in “exile,” to use Hannity’s radio rhetoric, if only President Obama and the Democrats could be driven out of office and Rove and his Republican friends could be returned to it. History has already proven them wrong and yet the mainstream Right continues to operate on this bizarre premise, whether lining up to cheer debt-doubling, TARP-voting, No Child Left Behind-promoting Republicans like John Boehner, simply for yelling in his opposition to Obamacare, or Rove, for simply being a Republican. For some, this is what conservatism now means–Republican victories and Democrat defeats-with the net, conservative results being completely irrelevant.
So attached are many right-wingers to the GOP that it’s worth noting how often they ignore less party-oriented, yet considerably viable, conservative efforts. For example, with the passage of national healthcare legislation being a primary focus of grassroots anger, as many as fourteen states have filed lawsuits declaring Obamacare to be in violation of the 10th amendment, with some even threatening nullification of what they consider overreaching federal legislation.
And yet, you don’t hear as much about states rights’ initiatives in the mainstream conservative media as you do Republican “efforts” to repeal Obamacare, something a betting man might give much lower odds. Why? Could it be that states rights’ initiatives don’t do much in the way of promoting the national Republican Party, and therefore become an afterthought?
Another example would be the contentious GOP primary race for US Senate in Kentucky, where Tea Party champion Rand Paul, son of Ron, is waging a successful campaign against Trey Grayson, a former Bill Clinton Democrat. If Paul wins, he could feasibly become the most conservative member of the Senate, even to the Right of the man currently seen by many as the holder of that title, Jim DeMint. Yet, Paul’s name is hardly ever mentioned on talk radio or FOX News. Why? After all, Paul has been endorsed by talk radio darling Sarah Palin and even frequent Hannity guest Steve Forbes. Could it be because a Paul win is not what the GOP establishment prefers? Writes the Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza: “A Paul win would function as a direct repudiation of Republican leadership in Washington – Grayson is seen as the handpicked choice of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell although McConnell hasn’t formally endorsed in the contest – and would quantify just how much power the anti-Washington/Tea Party/Libertarian wing of the party carries.”
That a liberal Republican Senator like Massachusetts’ Scott Brown can receive weeks of heavy campaign coverage on talk radio and a staunch conservative like Paul is roundly ignored, is something that makes perfect sense once one realizes that the mainstream Right’s first loyalty is to the Republican establishment and its agenda, not conservative principle, per se. “Bush is among the most conservative presidents of the modern age” says Rove with a straight face, and not only do few mainstream conservatives question such absurdity, but instead join Rove in defending one of the most statist Republican presidents in American history. Are such conservatives kidding? Apparently so and transparently so, though so far gone in their partisanship-it has likely become impossible for them to tell the difference.