Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rove: Lots of numbers, dislikes Democrats

Karl Rove, the Bush White House adviser, Republican political strategist and now Fox News contributor, spoke last night at the University of North Carolina. As The Herald-Sun reports, he stuck to his message and did not generate controversy.

He spoke without written notes and quoted dozens of numbers in nearly unfactcheckable* rapid fire succession. But, basically, Obama = bad, stimulus = bad, health care reform = "an utter, unmitigated financial disaster waiting to happen."
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* That's not fair. You'd just need a lot of time, and his sources.
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The way Rove spoke, it seemed that his ideas make so much sense, and the Democratic administrations are so breathtakingly stupid, that you wonder why America's problems weren't all solved during George W. Bush's 8 years in office, and how Barack Obama ever got elected.

Going in, I was particularly interested in his thoughts on the way Supreme Court and FEC rulings that have combined to allow unlimited, and in many cases completely anonymous, donations to political groups. The AP moved a story about Mr. Rove's involvement in one of those groups earlier in the day:
The two groups were launched under the direction of two of President George W. Bush's top political advisers, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, who still serve as informal advisers. They are among the most prominent groups in an emerging network of Republican-allied organizations that are helping make this year's midterm elections the most expensive on record.

Under rules liberalized by both the Supreme Court and a federal appellate court, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations. American Crossroads is registered with the Federal Election Commission and as such must reveal its donors, but Crossroads GPS is registered only as a nonprofit with the IRS and doesn't have to disclose its sources of money. ...

The fundraising figures, made available to The Associated Press, place the two Crossroads groups on track to meet their goal of $52 million by Election Day, and put them on virtually the same financial footing as the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
My question, asked by last night's moderator, was this:
What do you think of the relatively recent rulings that allow anonymous donations to non-profits, such as Crossroads GPS, that then finance political advertisements? Should people be able to donate in anonymity to groups that engage in political speech?
Mr. Rove said whoever wrote that question had been "reading way too much of the newspapers." He said he prefers Texas' political fundraising rules, which he described as no-limits policies for all groups. Federal rules limit donations to some groups and not to others and Rove said he will "live under the rules I've got."

You may have noticed that I used some form of the word "anonymous" twice in my question, but he didn't address that issue at all in his answer. Such is life.

Other notes of interest from Mr. Rove's speech:
  • During the Bush years Democrats simply would not vote for the president's budget. That made Republican votes crucial, and to pass the budgets with such small margins, the administration had to allow earmarks, which Rove said he hates. "The bridge to nowhere wiped out all the good work we did. ..." he said. "We need to stop these earmarks."
  • There are 6,000 state legislative races this year, and Mr. Rove expects Republicans to pick up some 500 seats. With congressional redistricting coming in the next legislative sessions, that will be huge, and particularly in Ohio and Indiana.
  • There are 36 governors races. Republican governors make Mr. Rove happy, because those folks turn into qualified Republican presidential candidates.
  • It's too early to know who stands a chance in the 2012 Republican primaries. This time in 2006, had you heard of Barack Obama?
  • The war on terror is a war against those who "have perverted a great religion," but it is the "height of insensitivity" to build an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero in New York. Existing mosques "slightly further away" could be used to mark the appropriate distance for mosque building. Mr. Rove also noted that the group behind this project, the Cordoba Institute, is named for Cordoba, Spain, which he called a "high water mark" for Islam's conquests in Europe circa 1000 AD. The institute itself describes this a bit differently.
  • Relatively low voter participation in this country, when balanced against the fact that people are striving for that right across the world, is embarrasing. "We cannot exist as a society when some people care and others don't," Mr. Rove said.

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