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Turdblossom: An Annual After All

Karl Rove's 'genius' was to harness class envy and disappointment

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 15, 2007.

When the dust has settled on George W. Bush’s presidency, I’m pretty sure that a few things will immediately be clear to even the most ignorant Luddite, the most materialistic and social climbing Christian whack job.

Bush was not a conservative, nor a Christian, nor a leader. He was only the unfocused image of those roles, itself mostly an illusion cultivated by his handlers. That he so posed as a time successfully was abetted by his goofy and incompetent advisor, Karl Rove, called Turd Blossom by his admirers, including the President himself. Seriously.

It’s long been a Republican staple that the Democrats are supported by the LA/Hollywood types, not real red-blooded Americans. This, of course, is the accepted way now of right wing bigots to refer to what they consider Jews, gays, and an amorphous class of elites who don’t work hard and don’t understand the nation, and all represented in movie actors. There were at least two things about this that made it ridiculous: the prejudices are at least a half century outdated for relevance, and it’s the Republicans who have offered up the Hollywood movie stars as candidates, tried to usurp the Jewish vote by pandering to Israel at every opportunity, right or wrong, and have had all the gay scandals – which are now scandals of poseur hypocrisy and not sex - that they’d wished upon the Democrats. Ironic is an insufficient word. In retrospect, supposed Christians can’t help but note that at least Bill Clinton was unabashedly heterosexual. Ted Haggard? A unending number of GOP flunkies from Jeff Gannon to John McCain’s imploding campaign staff? Not so much.

Even so, the Republicans are hushed over the potential candidacy of Fred Thompson, an attorney and part time Hollywood actor of screens big and small. He served two terms as a Senator from Tennessee, replacing Al Gore. It needs to be said that Thompson was neither a real actor nor much of a Senator. In movies and television, his roles required of him short shots of short lines of dialogue. In his first movie he did, in fact, portray himself in a role that still stands as his most accomplished. He couldn’t hold a long scene, because he essentially always plays a cardboard cutout of his self image.

Thompson tries to garner the Reagan crowd in his speeches for his non-campaign. Ronald Reagan was a good actor, as even Gore Vidal says, but we knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was our President for eight years, and you, Fred, are no Ronald Reagan. You’re not even a George Murphy, the song and dance man who started the GOP-Hollywood alliance in the 1960’s.

But Republicans, after years of actual actors and then preposterous wannabes like Bush, cannot let go of the memory. Of the time a President fluffed up the most palpably third rate among us by insisting their values were his, and his success was theirs. That Reagan's actions were nearly all hypocritical failures – after all the bombast about standing tall, we were driven out of Lebanon after a pointless invasion, nearly bolloxed the invasion of Grenada, and did business with Iran, trading guns for Contra money – didn’t really register with the bitter male wage slaves who didn’t get the girls they wanted or the jobs they felt they deserved. But, it kinda felt like they had under Reagan, because the U.S. was bombing again, and if there’s anything that makes Republican Chickenhawk thighs squeak it’s watching legally excused bombing of foreign nations on the tube.

It’s for this reason the Rudi Giuliani tries to implant his own Winston Churchill qualities, but like Bush his Churchill is not the one of history but the one known by sound byte and portrait among the ignorant and historically clueless, the ones who might see Rudi marching through the horrific streets of New York on September 11, 2001 as equal to Churchill stomping around London during the Blitz. Giuliani tries to harness family values, despite his disdain for his own oaths of marriage; competence, despite pushing a crook to head Homeland Security; and heroism by photo op. This was all learned from the George Bush presented to us by Karl Rove. All Rove did was look at the self image of the nation's biggest voting block: aging, white people going through that time of life where failures and disappointments become apparent. He instructed Bush to dress in their garb of posturing, exclusionary Christianity, to adopt the public poses of their dubious heroes, to sing their praises and to distort the opposition, never very strong.

That was it. The supposed Rove genius.