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Karl Rove and the Rise of the Machine



Karl Rove

Our own RoseAnn Salanitri thanked Karl Rove two weeks ago. He showed, better than anyone else could have done, that the Republican Party is not friendly to small government. This week, Newt Gingrich joined the chorus.

What Karl Rove did

Karl Rove provoked Tea Party ire earlier with his totally mis-called “Conservative Victory Project.” He tried to defend that project to Sean Hannity last night. So what I am about to say, I base on what he told Hannity.

Karl Rove is a quintessential machine politician. A political machine has a handful of leaders who meet in a smoke-filled room. They decide who runs for office (and where), and who doesn’t. They then tell the “foot soldiers” what to say, and to whom, and when. And how does the machine finance itself? By selling political offices and contracts to big-name campaign contributors.

This problem is as old as politics itself. Julius Caesar did it. Plutarch, in his Lives, described other Roman politicians (like Gaius Cassius Longinus) who did the same.

Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself

Are much condemn’d to have an itching palm,


To sell and mart your offices for gold

To undeservers. [Julius Caesar IV.iii.9-12]

Karl Rove says he doesn’t think grassroots conservatives can win. He cites two candidates (Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana) who lost their races, after beating their State Republican machines. The story Karl Rove would have you believe is that Todd Akin, for instance, was a disaster waiting to happen. Naturally he harps on Akin’s dreadful choice of phrase when he tried to say that pregnancy, in cases of forcible rape, happens less often than one might suppose. (Incidentally, a former “women’s doctor” told a crowd in Georgia that maybe pregnancy does happen less often at that.)

That’s the story. Now the truth: Karl Rove never had an ounce of sympathy for Akin, or Mourdock, or the limited-government causes they espouse. Karl Rove is a machine man and will always be a machine man. A Senate and House full of Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks would utterly destroy any opportunities for patronage. And patronage is the motive, and motive force, of all machines.

Newt Gingrich gets wise

Karl Rove

Karl Rove, as White House Deputy Chief of Staff. Photo: The White House.

To his great credit, Newt Gingrich now “gets it.” He stung Karl Rove last night in the pages of Human Events online.

Newt Gingrich has his own phrase for the gods of the machine: “political consultants.” He very plainly describes the same thing. The machine is the machine is the machine. Newt Gingrich advises: down with the machine! Recruit candidates who can think, and therefore lead. Then let them lead. And don’t let any machine men (“consultants”) do their thinking for them.


His words for Karl Rove and his so-called Victory Project are priceless:

I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states. This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grassroots small town conservatism.

No one person is smart enough nor do they have the moral right to buy nominations across the country.

That is the system of Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine. It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican.

And it is certainly repugnant to the Tea Party. If Karl Rove or Newt Gingrich or anyone else wants to know why Tea Party will soon stand for Third Party, this is why.

But Newt sees another problem with the Karl Rove Machine: it won’t work.


[Karl Rove] was simply wrong last year. He was wrong about the Presidential race (watch a video of his blow up on Fox election night about Fox News calling Ohio for President Obama). He was also wrong about Senate races.

While Rove would like to argue his “national nomination machine” will protect Republicans from candidates like those who failed in Missouri and Indiana, that isn’t the bigger story.

Republicans lost winnable senate races in Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. So in seven of the nine losing races, the Rove model has no candidate-based explanation for failure. Our problems are deeper and more complex than candidates.

You saw it. Newt used that word machine. And he makes no mistake.

The real problem with the machine

And what are those problems he talks about? Newt Gingrich comes close to the right idea. He blames “demographic changes.” But demography alone never explains political trends.

Newt knows that the American electorate is younger and tends more toward traditional “minorities.” And he knows the Republican Party has never appealed to such people. But he won’t say why.


The why is simple enough. Neither blacks nor Hispanics will vote for a White/Gringo Machine! To say they simply want their own machines is too easy. The Republican Party really is in the hands of a country-club machine. And that machine has nothing but contempt for anyone not in their crowd. And ideas? Don’t waste their time.

No wonder blacks and Hispanics tend to vote for the candidate who promises to redistribute wealth

from each, according to his ability, to each, according to his need.

What does the Republican Party offer them? Any time they see a good candidate who is “one of them,” meaning a Herman Cain or a Ted Cruz, the Machine, and The Man, destroy them. Then they offer the quintessential “Man,” Mitt Romney. A man designed to lose.

Are two machines working together?

George C. Wallace famously said,

There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.

Two weeks ago, Judi McLeod, in Canada Free Press, came out with an analysis that many of us missed. Karl Rove is working directly with the Obama Team. Or if not directly, then in parallel, serving the same kind of goal. McLeod relied heavily on Mark Levin, whom she quotes thus:


Here’s a project funded by crony capitalists, funded by corporatists—who are not conservative—funding a group called the Conservative Victory Project. This is the sort of thing Barack Obama does; this is a thing Marxists do; they give a name to themselves which has nothing to do with what they’re really up to in order to try and control the propaganda.

That word “corporatist” says it all. The Democratic and Republican Parties are the Coke and Pepsi of American politics, fighting little more than turf wars, and peddling products that are not good for you anyway. Is Karl Rove allied with Barack Obama? Maybe not, but he clearly is looking out for himself and The Machine, not for the people. As Roseann Salanitri said two weeks ago:

Thank you very much!

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Terry, a winning analysis. Too bad that this clarity in naming the “machine” didn’t call these certain Republicans out for their machine-like “Pioneer” fund-raising strategy in 2000.


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