In the Arena

Rove Explained

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It’s not every day that I see things from a Tea Party point of view, but Karl Rove’s recent behavior makes it easier to understand one aspect of the Republican Party’s right-wing populist rebellion. I can’t say that I disagree with Rove’s criticism of Sarah Palin and the other assorted Teasies (some of whom are stumbling at the last minute, possibly costing the Republican Party Senate seats): these people are profoundly uninformed and, in some cases, just plain batty.

But this election cycle has exposed Rove for what he is: man-servant to the oiligarchs. Rove’s most significant activity this year has been raising big, secret donations from the Republican rich and turning them into the ugly, inaccurate negative ads that have been his stock-in-trade forever. Rove’s bosses ┬ádon’t represent the entire panoply of Republican money; they tend to be sunbelt sorts, involved in extraction industries. People like the Koch brothers. They are the very same people who gave the world George W. Bush–and would have given us John Connally, Phil Gramm and Steve Forbes, if any of them hadn’t been so profoundly unattractive as candidates.

If the Tea Party has brought anything refreshing to the table, it’s a sense of skepticism that occasionally reaches past Big Government to include Big Business. Granted, the Teasies tend to focus more on the depredations of Wall Street than those of the oil patch–it was Wall Street, after all, that trashed the value of their homes–but they represent a trend that can only make Republicans like Rove less than comfortable. After the election, there will be several internal GOP battles that will be fun watching–one will involve the economic populists versus the oligarchs, another will set the neoconservative military interventionists against the libertarian isolationists (whether to stay in Afghanistan is the likely battlefield). Republicans tend not to fight amongst themselves with the joy and bloodlust that marks the Democratic tong wars; but these battles should be fascinating, especially as the GOP struggles to find a presidential candidate in 2012.