More Phony Myths
Karl Rove was impressed with Barack Obama when he first met him. But now he sees him as a “coolly arrogant” elitist.
This was Rove’s take on Obama to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club Monday, according to Christianne Klein of ABC News:
“Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”
Actually, that sounds more like W.
The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove. When was the last time he kicked back with a corncob pipe to watch professional wrestling?
Rove is trying to spin his myths, as he used to do with such devastating effect, but it won’t work this time. The absurd spectacle of rich white conservatives trying to paint Obama as a watercress sandwich with the crust cut off seems ugly and fake.
Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he’s certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club. But isn’t that better than the aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks? It’s ironic, and maybe inevitable, that the first African-American nominee comes across as a prince of privilege. He is, as Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic wrote, not the seed but the flower of the civil rights movement.
Unlike W., Obama doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and he doesn’t make a lot of snarky remarks. He tries to stay on a positive keel and see things from the other person’s point of view.
He’s not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy’s influence and Daddy’s friends, the one who got waved into Yale and Harvard and cushy business deals, who drank too much and snickered at the intellectuals and gave them snide nicknames.
Obama is the outsider who never really knew his dad and who grew up in modest circumstances, the kid who had to work hard to charm whites and build a life with blacks and step up to the smarty-pants set.
He might be smoking, but it would be at a cafe, hunched over a New York Times, an Atlantic magazine, his MacBook and some organic fruit-flavored tea, listening to Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” on his iPod.
Rove was doing a variation on the old William Buckley line: “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone book than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty.”
Conservatives love playing this little game, acting as if the “elite” Democratic candidates are not in touch with people like themselves, even though the guys doing the attacking — like Rove, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Hannity — are wealthy and cosseted.
Haven’t we had enough of this hypocritical comedy of people in the elite disowning their social status for political purposes? The Bushes had to move all the way to Texas from Greenwich to make their blue blood appear more red.
Everyone who ever became president was in the elite one way or another, including Andrew Jackson.
Rove and Co. are nervous because they see that Obama, in rejecting public financing, is not going to be a chump, like some past Democratic candidates.
For some of Obama’s critics, it’s a breathtaking bit of fungible principles, as though Gandhi suddenly donned a Dolce & Gabbana, or Dolce & Mahatma, loincloth.
But even as the Republicans limn him as John Kerry, as someone who is too haughty and too “foreign,” Obama is determined not to repeat what Kerry thinks was a big mistake: not having enough money to compete against the Republicans in 2004.
Charlie Black crassly argued in Fortune that a terrorist attack would “be a big advantage” for John McCain. And what’s scary is, Black is the smartest adviser McCain’s got.
It’s hard to believe that if Americans get attacked after all these years of getting strip-searched at the airport, they’re going to be filled with confidence at the performance of the Republicans on national security. And at least Obama wants to catch Osama and doesn’t think he’s getting his directions on war from “a higher Father.”
Rove’s mythmaking about Obama won’t fly. If he means that Obama has brains, what’s wrong with that? If he means that Obama is successful, what’s wrong with that? If he means that Obama has education and intellectual sophistication, what’s wrong with that?
Many of Obama’s traits are the traits that people in the population aspire to.
It looks as if Rove is on the verge of realizing his dream of creating a permanent position for the Republicans.
Unfortunately for him, it’s in the minority.