bestnom1000x50

“James You Ignorant Slut” and Other Things I Overheard at the Carville-Rove Debate


I missed the Ann Coulter-Bill Maher bout this past March – when a fistfight broke out at the Wang Theatre – but I imagine the mix resembled last night’s crowd at the James Carville-Karl Rove smackdown. There were no vigilante mobs or dreadlocked liberals yelling “war criminal,” but heads were certainly prepared to throw fists across the aisle.  

As Boston dictates, there were more Democrats than Republicans, but the latter had an impressive showing. At first, with my pastel windbreaker and tattoos, I could have either passed for a hipster liberal or a country clubber in his biker phase. That changed, though, when Rove predictably attempted to trivialize the record of Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor; from that moment on I howled in synch with the Cambridge crowd.

Both host Charlie Rose and most news outlets that previewed this joust introduced Rove and Carville as two men with one thing in common: they both helped elect “underdogs” to the White House in consecutive elections. The truth, however, is that they’re both also bald, though to varying degrees.

Carville is a Tim Burton character – fully animated with the gift to wave his lanky arms and reduce complex issues to shrewd and salacious sound bytes. After Rove executed his first movement in a symphony of wonkish smoke screens, his opponent won the audience with some simple hypothetical rhetoric, “When George Bush was in office – did anybody ever say out loud, ‘Wow – I really like this president?’” asked Carville. “Of course they didn’t.”

Rove is the anti-Carville; while the latter relies more on swagger than facts, Rove shatters facts into self-serving minutiae. He also manipulates timelines to his advantage; Bill Clinton is responsible for the 2001 World Trade Center attacks because of his inept response to the 1993 bombings, while at the same time Obama is to blame for deficits he inherited five months ago.  

On a good day, Rove can convince mathematicians that five plus four equals ten and prove it on his rigged abacus; his trick this time was to blast Democrats for things they haven’t done yet. The strategy is simple: manifest a destiny for Obama in which inflation skyrockets, and then skewer the presumption. Rove also pulled the victim card, accusing Charlie Rose of favoring the donkeys.

One resounding theme was ethics versus greed. While Carville rallied to grant illegal immigrants unchecked access to prescription drugs and hospitals, Rove complains about how many frauds abuse the health care system, which incited his legionnaires to cheer for the only thing they truly care about: their damn selves.

There’s no middle ground between these two; the only reason Carville ultimately won is because he gets to say things like: “You know what they believe? They believe that the earth is 5,000 years old.” Carville also has the advantage of being married to an attractive (and dare I say classy) woman in the right-wing establishment, which must really aggravate never-been-kissed virgins like Karl Rove.

Mocking Rove’s physical barbarity is not beside the point; just like in the comics, there’s an ugly little man inside that monster. He also exposed himself to criticism by literally imitating Carville’s flamboyant hand gestures from behind the Cajun’s back, triggering the only rambunctious Republican response of the evening.

At one point the Bush advisor said that popularity is overrated because it makes people vulnerable; maybe that explains why he provides so many opportunities for folks to hate him. When asked about Bush administration successes, Rove cited No Child Left Behind and alternative energy (without laughing); on the subject of Bush failures, he blamed Democratic leaders for blocking legislation that would have pushed workers to gamble their social security.  

My editor asked if I thought Carville was hammered; and while I don’t believe that’s the case, I can’t imagine any other reason that he’d forget to mention the handling of Hurricane Katrina as a vital Bush era error. I suppose Carville didn’t need the extra nail; Rove might be the smartest neo-con on earth, but arousing a theatre-full of Yankees is a lot harder than manipulating red state bumpkins, which, as has been noted several times, both these men have done on consecutive occasions.

| More


ADVERTISEMENT
 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
ADVERTISEMENT
Latest Comments
ADVERTISEMENT
Search Blogs
 
Phlog Archives