Skip to main content

Rove's unlikely redemption

Karl Rove, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Presidential election
  • Author:
  • Updated:

By Ben Cohen

In modern society, success is usually determined by attaining a particular skill in a particular area. If you want to make money or have power, specialize in something to a degree that no one else wants to, and sell your labor for a high price. Plumbers, for example, can make over £300/hour in London (over $600), and computer programmers can often charge more than the value of the computers they are fixing.

Karl Rove, or 'Boy Genius' as he is famously know as, specializes in image creation for politicians. Whatever one may think of his abhorrent political views (or lack thereof), he is astoundingly good at his job. Taking a cocksure, C+ student with no particular talent and the verbal skills of a 12 year old to the Presidency of the United States is something no ordinary adviser could do.

Rove has a fine eye for detail and an uncanny ability to focus and magnify a candidates strengths. In the age of media marketing, Bush was portrayed by Rove as a plain speaking, honest Christian man, the perfect antidote for a nation dirtied by the philandering behavior of Bill Clinton. Mangling sentences and mispronouncing the names of foreign leaders was marketed by the GOP as being 'endearing', and a clear contrast to the parsing practiced by the former Commander in Chief. Other Republican candidates were destroyed by Rove's ruthless tactics, and the path was cleared for 'Dubya' to rule as leader supreme.

However, having presided over a disastrous second term and losing both
the Congress and the Senate, the former Deputy Chief of Staff is now
out of a job. As cataloged on these pages,
Rove has been making a series of fabrications in the press in regards
to Bush's rush to go to war back in 2002 (apparently it was the
Congress that pushed him into it). The law of specialisation rings
true, and Rove should know better than to play historian. He has
however, turned again to something he is rather good at: Advising

And strangely enough, his political acumen is being gifted upon Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Sort of.

In an article written for the Financial Times
titled "Memo to Barack Obama: win Iowa or lose the race", Rove has
taken his once valuable time to instruct the Senator from Illinois on
how to beat Hillary Clinton.  It is hard to want to praise Rove for
anything, but his advice is spot on.

Here are some of the choice excerpts:

"Hillary may come over as calculating and shifty but she looks in
control. You, on the other hand, often come over as weak and
ineffectual. In some debates, you do not even look at her when
disagreeing with her, making it look as if you are afraid of her. She
offers you openings time and again but you do not take advantage of
them. Sharpen your attacks and make them more precise....

"Focus on the fact that many Democrats have real doubts about Hillary.
They worry she cannot win, will be a drag on the ticket and that if she
got to the White House it would be a disaster. You know better than
most what they are worried about; they have told you their fears. It is
why you have done so well raising money from Bill’s backers and gaining
support from Clinton administration officials. Talk about those doubts.
Put them in a bigger context than just the two of you. Remind primary
voters that these shortcomings will hurt Democratic chances....

"Find a way to gently belittle her whenever she tries to use
disagreements among Democrats as an excuse to complain about being
picked on. The toughest candidate in the field should not be able to
complain when others disagree with her. This is not a coronation.
Democrats do not like her sense of entitlement. She is not owed the
nomination. It does not belong to her simply because her name is
Clinton. So blow the whistle on her when she tries to become a victim.
Do it with humour and a smile and it will sting even more."

Rove's pointed advice to Obama will help him win the nomination. His
analysis of public feelings toward the candidates are insightful, and
if used correctly, can help launch Obama's candidacy beyond Clinton's.
The last thing America needs is another candidate for the Republicans
to endlessly attack, and Obama is beyond a doubt the most attractive
candidate in this regard. 

Rove's talents are unique, but have unfortunately been used to do huge
amounts of damage over the years. He did not write the article out of
kindness or a secret desire to help Obama, rather to serve the massive
demands of his own ego. He still needs to be relevant, and eye catching
articles create controversy and in turn create attention for him.

Nevertheless, if Obama listens to him, maybe something positive can come from Rove's self indulgent second career.

A graduate in Politics and International Relations from the
University of Sussex, Ben Cohen is a boxing journalist for and Boxing Monthly. He is the founding Editor of The
Daily Banter. He can be reached at