- He's America's Joseph Goebbels. As a 21-year old Young
Republican in Texas, Karl Rove not only pimped for Richard Nixon's chief
political dirty tricks strategist Donald Segretti but soon caught the eye
of the incoming Republican National Committee Chairman, George H. W. Bush.
Rove's dirty tricks on behalf of Nixon's 1972 campaign catapulted Rove
onto the national stage. From his Eagle's Nest in the West Wing of the
White House, Rove now directs a formidable political dirty tricks operation
and disinformation mill.
- Since his formative political years when he tried to
paint World War II B-24 pilot and hero George McGovern as a left-wing peacenik
through his mid-level career as a planter of disinformation in the media
on behalf of Texas and national GOP candidates to his current role as Dubya's
"Svengali," Rove has practiced the same style of slash and burn
politics as did his Nixonian mentor Segretti. Many of us remember the Lincolnesque
Senator Ed Muskie breaking down in tears during the 1972 campaign over
Segretti-planted false stories in a New Hampshire newspaper that accused
Mrs. Muskie of being a heavy smoker, drinker, and cusser and accused Muskie
of uttering a slur in describing New Hampshire's French Canadian population.
Rove's hero also forged letters on fake Muskie campaign letterhead, disrupted
rallies and fundraising dinners, and spread false stories about the sex
lives of candidates. Segretti's brush also smeared George McGovern, George
Wallace, Shirley Chisholm, and McGovern's first vice presidential choice,
Senator Tom Eagleton. Segretti of course did not go on to a high-level
White House job -- he was sentenced to six months in federal prison for
distributing illegal campaign material.
- In many respects, however, the apprentice Rove has far
exceeded the chicanery and evil-mindedness of his mentor Segretti. Rove
is a tech-savvy puppet master for Bush. Take, for example, last June's
discovery of a "lost" CD-ROM in Lafayette Park across from the
White House. Contained on the CD was a PowerPoint presentation given by
White House political director Ken Mehlman to Rove on the strategy for
next Tuesday's off-year election. The slide show showed First Brother Jeb
Bush being vulnerable in Florida. Jeb Bush later joked that the disc was
part of a plot cooked up by him and his brother to make it appear that
he was vulnerable in order to rally an otherwise complacent GOP base in
the Sunshine State. Or was it a joke? Jeb Bush and his political minions
like Katherine Harris have shown us that if anyone thinks what the GOP
has done in Florida is funny they have an incredibly sick sense of humor.
- Rove's own tendency to be sick-minded originates with
his mentor Segretti. The 2000 GOP primary was a chance for Rove to hone
his skills in dirty tricks. His target then was Senator John McCain who
appeared to be within striking distance of Dubya in South Carolina after
the then-GOP maverick's surprise upset victory in New Hampshire. Rove's
operation proceeded to target McCain with false stories: McCain was a stoolie
for his captors in the Hanoi Hilton (this from a lunatic self-promoting
Vietnam "veteran"); McCain fathered a black daughter out of wedlock
(a despicable reference to McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter); Cindy
McCain's drug "abuse"; and even McCain's "homosexuality."
In the spirit of Segretti, Rove engineered a victory for Dubya but at the
cost of trashing an honorable man and his family. Muskie, McGovern, Carter,
Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Hart, Tsongas, Clinton, Biden, Dole, Perot, and
others had all seen the Segretti/Rove slash and burn tactics before.
- And Rove's penchant for fascistic demagoguery and outright
lying continues to this very day. After Paul Wellstone's sons asked that
Vice President Dick Cheney not attend the Minneapolis memorial service
for their father, mother, and sister, the White House explained that the
real reason wasn't the surviving Wellstone family's abhorrence for Cheney
but the fact the family didn't want Cheney's Secret Service protection
to interfere with public access to the service. Of course, the Rove and
Ari Fleischer disinformation machine forgot to take into account that two
attendees, Bill and Hillary Clinton, had their own Secret Service details.
But such is the case with a White House that takes its lessons from Goebbels
and the editorial staff of the old Soviet News Agency Tass.
- Rove's dirty fingerprints could also be seen in the Iowa
Senate race between Tom Harkin and GOP candidate Greg Ganske. A few months
ago, a story was leaked that the Harkin campaign had employed a spy within
the Ganske campaign. To put this in a Rove context, we must go back to
the 1986 Texas gubernatorial race in which Rove's candidate Bill Clements
was taking on Democratic Governor Mark White. Just before a debate between
the two candidates, Rove spun the story that his office had been bugged.
No proof. But the insinuation that White's people had carried out the bugging
was reported by the media. In the election, Clements defeated White. Rove
stashed away more political capital into his already heavy knapsack of
- During the 2000 presidential campaign, we were obviously
treated to more Rove chicanery when the following Associated Press story
hit the wires: "A woman who worked for a media company that produced
ads for President George W. Bush's campaign was indicted for secretly mailing
a videotape of Bush practicing for a debate to Vice President Al Gore's
campaign." Yes, that videotape, along with a 120-page briefing book,
just happened to turn up in Gore's headquarters as fast as the CD-ROM turned
up in Lafayette Park. The sourcerer Segretti must be very proud of his
apprentice. In 1980, no Republican bemoaned the fact that Jimmy Carter's
debate briefing book was swiped and found its way into the hands of the
Reagan-Bush campaign. In Rove's world, its only an affront when someone
"steals" your own campaign secrets and not when your are on the
receiving end of a heist.
- "If you're not with me, you're against me."
Bush's binary view of "good and evil" and "friend and enemy"
sits well with the Rove strategy. Georgia's conservative but libertarian-minded
Representative Bob Barr found out about this in last August's primary when
his GOP primary opponent John Linder began spreading around stories that
Barr was "soft on terrorism." Because Barr was skeptical about
a number of aspects of the Bush-Ashcroft USA PATRIOT Act, he became a target
for the Rove machine. However, it was likely that Barr became a target
earlier on when he supported Steve Forbes against Bush in the 2000 primary.
Bush apparently means to say, "If you've not always been with me,
you're against me." It must have really been a dilemma for Bush and
Rove to have to come to the support of John Sununu, Jr. in the New Hampshire
Senate race. Although Daddy made George W. unceremoniously give the axe
to Sununu's father as White House Chief of Staff during the Bush 41 administration,
the man who the junior Sununu defeated in the primary, Bob Smith, was even
more of a problem. He had the temerity to quit the Republican Party in
2000 and run against Dubya for President. So in Bushspeak, which is obviously
borrowed from Forrest Gump's scripts, "if you're less with me than
the other guy, you're more against me."
- Undoubtedly, Rove was also behind the campaign to "get"
Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney who was the first nationally-known
politician to question what Bush may have known beforehand about 9-11.
She was defeated by a former Republican state judge who had supported the
wacky Alan Keyes for President in 2000. Never mind, McKinney was "less
with Bush" than Keyes, so it was more important to get McKinney who
was "more against" Bush.
- In all seriousness, rewarding the GOP on November 5 will
only increase the appetite of Rove to amass more and more power into the
White House. The advent of a Democratic-controlled Senate and House might
even begin to spell the end of the road for Segretti's star pupil. German
opposition figures in the mid-1930s often lamented the fact that they could
have stopped the rise of the Nazis if only they had been more united in
a common front when they had a chance. However, they fell prey to the media
manipulation of Goebbels and fought among themselves more than they did
against the menace from the far right. We Americans also have an early
opportunity to stem an out-of-control and anti-constitutional regime with
the Rasputin-like Rove at the after steerage helm of our ship of state.
That opportunity presents itself next Tuesday--Election Day.
- Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative
journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth.
- Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com