Water Man Spouts

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mayberry Machiavelli: Will Otis Rove Go To Jail?

{1} Phillips on Machiavelli & an American Dynasty
"I'll play the orator as well as Nestor,
Deceive more slyly than Ulysses could,
And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
I can add colors to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school."
-- Shakespeare; Henry VI
Kevin Phillips, the former Nixon White House strategist, uses this wonderful quote in the beginning of the "afterword" in his book "American Dynasty," (Viking, 2004). This book carries a warning, actually the very same that Benjamin Franklin gave in 1787, when asked if the Constitutional Convention had created a monarchy or a republic: "A republic, if you can keep it."
"The political thinker Niccolo' Machiavelli (1469-1527), long a believer in the famous Florentine Republic of the Renaissance, began to lose faith in his later years as the tides of imperial war and ambition -- French, German, and Spanish -- swept across the Italian peninsula, washing away the old republican politics of city-states like Florence and Siena too small to survive on their own. Unlike Machiavelli's less-well-known books, which embraced republican politics and institutions, his most famous volume, The Prince, was dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, the duke of Urbino. It encapsulated the techniques, from amorality and fraud to religion, by which ascendant princely rulers might govern most successfully.
"As the 2004 presidential election took shape, another such Machiavellian movement was at hand. U.S. president George W. Bush, while hardly a Medici, was a dynast whose family heritage included secrecy and calculated deception. Harkening to the increasingly imperial self-perception of the United States, the president's theorists and tacticians boasted of taking the advice of Machiavelli and the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. The late Lee Atwater, chief political adviser to the elder Bush, and Karl Rove, strategist for the younger Bush, friends and collaborators, were both devotees of Machiavelli and The Prince, hardly a coincidence. "
-- "American Dynasty"; Kevin Phillips; pages 320-321
Phillips was not the first author to note the Bush family had a tendency to Machiavellian, of course. One of the strengths of his book is his book is the foundation he builds by quoting other sources: in "Marching In Place," authors Dan Goodgame and Michael Duffy describe Bush1 as "remoreselessly deceitful when it served his purpose." (Simon & Schuster; 1992; page 11)
"George W. Bush is in a class by himself when it comes to prevarication, " authors Drake Bennett and Heidi Pauker note in an article comparing him to LBJ and Nixon, who had previously been considered the best liars of recent vintage. "It is no exaggeration to say that lying has become Bush's signature as president." ( "All The President's Lies"; The American Prospect; May 2003; page 29)
Of special interest, even excluding an infamous "16 words," was President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. It was described in David Broder's March 9, 2003 Washington Post column as reflecting a "gulf of credibility," and "artful misdirection," as well as being "surreal" and a "bald-faced lie." ("Bush's Tax Brush-Off")
And, in the classic "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George Bush Presidential," authors James Moore and Wayne Slater write that Rove prides himself in helping the president use the Machiavellian arts. "Perception is reality," Rove is fond of quoting from The Prince. "The great majority of mankind is satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities." (Moore & Slater; 2003; pages 31 & 43)
And so it is no surprise when Phillips, on page 148 of his book, writes that "...American readers of 'The Prince' may feel that they have stumbled on a thinly disguised Bush White House political memo."
{2} Karl Rove's Quest for Power
"...(T)he reign of the Mayberry Machiavellians, in which everything -- I mean everything -- (is) being run by the political arm .... There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a political apparatus."
This quote from University of Pennsylvania professor John DiIulio, who had been the first director of the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, explained why he quit in disgust. (See "State of Disunion"; Eric Alterman; The Nation; 2-10-03; page 10) Phillips uses it to, I believe, show the distain he felt for those in the Bush administration who mistakenly believed they were of genius status. Let us look at the Mayberry Machiavellian's very own Otis, Karl Rove.
In this week's edition of Newsweek, in an article titled "Rove At War," author Howard Fineman does his best to portray Rove in a sympathetic light. He was deeply impressed by the Nixon- Kennedy debates in 1960, and decided he not only wanted to be a masterful debator, he wanted to be president. However, unlike young Americans with healthy minds, Karl was not a fan of Kennedy. Fineman notes that Rove's heroes became Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.
His dream of becoming president ended the day he met George W. Bush, however. Fineman describes Rove as recalling "the scene in a kind of gauzy cinematic slow-mo: 'He was weraing jeans, and a bomber jacket, and he had an aura of confidence and charisma'." The description seems closer to Hoover than Nixon. But, were Fineman to be more honest in his "Rove At War," he might have quoted one sentence from Bob Woodward's "Bush At War." On pages 276-7, Woodward describes Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the third game in the World Series, between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After he tosses the pitch, the stadium erupted. Then:
"Watching from owner George Steinbrenner's box, Karl Rove thought, It's like being at a Nazi rally."
Rove also tells Woodward that "the war would be measured by the outcome. 'Everything will be measured by results .... The victor is always right. History ascribes to the victor qualities that may or may not actually have been there. And, similarly, to the defeated." (pages 337-8) And so began America's response to 9-11.
{3} Karl and Tricky Dick Cheney.
"Draft #6 also contained the line: 'And the regime has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from sources in Africa, a central ingredient in the enrichment process.
"The basis for this was an unsubstantiated report from British intelligence that Iraq had recently attempted to buy uranium oxide, known as 'yellowcake,' from Niger. The CIA was unsure of this for a number of reasons and had shared its concerns with the British. A former ambassador, Joseph Wilson IV, had been sent to Niger to check out the report and had found nothing to substantiate it. The CIA memo recommended that any reference be dropped from the Cincinnati speech, and it was."
-- "Plan of Attack"; Bob Woodward; pages 201-2.
Woodward's second book on the Bush administration contains a wealth of information on the inner conflicts that took place in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Simply put, "Karl Rove had come to love Cheney." (page 429) This is similar to what Fineman writes in Newsweek: Rove had begun to call VP Cheney "Leadership" as the case for war in Iraq was being made. As Colin Powell and George Tenet expressed doubts about the intelligence Cheney was pushing, Rove became "personally and operationally close to Cheney';s chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby." (Newsweek; 7-25-05; page 28)
At the same time, Rove came to dislike Powell. "Rove detected a subtle, subversive tendency, as if Powell were protecting his own credentials and his own political future at Bush's expense," Woodward writes on page 12 of "Bush At War."
"Rove was disturbed and felt Powell was beyong political control ... 'It's constantly, you know, "I'm in charge, and this is all politics...",' Rove told Woodward in private. (Bush At War; page 13)
"Rove, for one, was saying privately that he thought Powell had somehow lost a step and that it was odd to see him uncomfortable in the presence of the president." (Bush At War; page 14)
The wek before 9-11, two magazines stood out. TIME ran a cover story, "Where have you gone, Colin Powell?" It was clearly done at Rove's request. And The Weekly Standard's cover story, "The Impressario, Karl Rove, Orchestrator of the Bush White House," had a cover showing a respectable looking Rove with a tiny clownish Bush in his pocket.
{4} Wilson Exposes The Mayberry Liars
"How do you publicly counter a guy like that? As 'senior advisor,' Rove would be involved in finding out. Technically, Rove was in charge of politics, not 'communications.' But, as he saw it, the two were one and the same -- and he used his heavyweight status to push the message machine ..."
-- Newsweek; "Rove At War"; page 30.
Rove's goals are described in Newsweek: surprisingly, they are not to protect President Bush. Rather, Fineman is clear, "The message: protect Cheney by explaining that he had nothing to do with sending Wilson to Niger, and dismiss the yellowcake issue."(pages 30-31) Think of the implications in that; protect VP Cheney by separating him from the mission to Niger and the significance of the yellowcake claim.
As we know, Rove has been caught lying about his role in this effort. We know that he spoke with Time's Matt Cooper, with Robert Novak, and with Chris Matthews. The White House message machine is attempting to dismiss the significance, but it isn't going away. Recent reports show that the issue is not limited to who exposed Valerie Plame. Under another statute, it can be a felony to "willfully disclose information from a classified document. (Newsweek; page 31) This involves the State Department memo, as well as Condi Rice's briefing book. And it goes beyond "Otis" Rove, drunk with power. (Of course, the White House is planning to set-up Colin Powell. I say that we need to keep a close eye on Dick Armitage .... he will not let that happen!)
{5} Conclusions and convictions.
Last week, after Matt Cooper testified to the grand jury, Rove's attorney called Fitzgerald, and asked if he needed to talk to Karl again. "Fitzgerald didn't bite," Fineman reports in Newsweek. " 'We'll get back to you,' the prosecutor replied curtly, and quickly got off the line." (page 32)
Since then, Rove and his gang have been trying to get the neocon machine in gear. But Fineman notes it is hard, because they are trained to attack, not to defend. He notes that Rove's friends are concerned, and Rove is shaken by the "speed ... and direction" that Fitzgerald is moving in. Karl is used to being in control, Fineman writes. But his little Machiavellian play is spinning out of control.

3 Comments:

At November 4, 2005 at 8:33 AM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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At November 12, 2005 at 2:59 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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At December 20, 2005 at 3:19 PM, Blogger My-Juno said...

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