Aug 14, 2007

Is Carl Rove the Mother Teresa of US Politics? [editor's note: the testimony to his miracles have commenced...Sainthood to follow]

Scene One. Ext.-The White House. VO: Bush's Brain has just left the building.... Dick remains to finish job!

It seems that, at least in the public domain, credibility, accolades, popularity, acceptance, image, attention, etc, often have nothing to do with what a revered person has actually done in his life. If you stay around long enough, you're in the public eye [read: any publicity], there'll always be millions of admirers who want to rub shoulders with you and add to your fame by going hysterical over you.

When a person exits [pick any scenario here], there's also the tendency to mostly remember the good deeds while exaggerating the achievements. It's the Mother Teresa phenomenon--whereas mainly facilitating (a Catholic) death can lead to sainthood! Do you see this being repeated?

Carl Rove--also known as "Bush's brain,"and an "architect" of the neo-conservative wave that screwed up our country-- is leaving this failed administration. I say, good riddance! On the other hand, I wouldn't mind Rove staying and designing strategy for the 2008 elections. Honestly, I would... judging from his brilliant takes on the 2006 Congressional elections. Not to mention what conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan said about Rove.

While the deification process is already going on (including by the so-called liberal media), there are few of us who are passing the vomit bucket around. Why? Because we think winning a few battles at any cost isn't always worth it. In other words, the ends don't necessarily justify the means. Yet, the latter seems to be the case here. You seriously divide the country, by injecting fanaticism and falsehoods to motivate your political base. When you don't really care for anything other than achieving and using power to benefit your own narrow political goals, then you are not performing a service to your country but to your own boss and your own exclusive socio-political tribe.

This is exactly what Rove did. But, especially in this White House, the rewards and appreciation don't come based on serving the commonwealth, but rather the ruling elite. We've seen so many others--very incompetent persons in high political offices--who were promoted, given medals, or left the government with "honors" for plush positions in the private sector.

As much as I dislike those individuals who abuse their power and public benefits--particularly when they're entrusted to act in the interest of the commonwealth--I also don't like those who supposedly try to appear above politics by pretending they give an opportunity to all sides to express all points of view... First, not all points of view carry the same weight or validity. Secondly, more often than not we don't have a free and informative forum where we discuss the important public issues.

Usually what happens in the media is about the same narrow interests who want to maintain those socio-economic relations in our country. Needless to say, the status quo (the prevailing conditions) favors, well, the status quo. I don't know if it's a human propensity to want to exaggerate the positive and minimize the negative, but when it comes to a public figure, I think, we need to carefully examine his/her actions, and not re-construct an image to our liking. In Rove's case, unless you're a hard-core neocon and of the small class of beneficiaries, you can't possibly say that his tenure in the White House was a good thing.

But, success isn't an absolute value. Myth-making is still a thriving industry. Have you heard of memes? This is what's going on today. Once a meme reaches a critical mass, then it becomes part of the collective folklore. It doesn't really matter what reality is. The perception is what matters the most. All societies, to various degrees, are prone to creating memes and public myths. I won't go into the sociological/anthropological value of such practice, but in this 21st century America, I'd expect a little more sophistication.

Why, for example, we still give a public forum to people who have been wrong about almost everything? Where's the credibility? How does a person earn that? Where's the self-criticism? Where's the, "I'm sorry, I was totally wrong on this one"? Or, is it the celebrity factor that counts more than anything else? I think it often does! Sadly.

Yes, it's not only the Faux News that hires those talking heads to spew propaganda and engage in infotainment. I'm in the academia, and I've seen it too often for my liking. The likes of George Will and Bill Kristol [and more Carl Rove soon] that deliver commencement addresses, give lectures, etc, while they're maintaining their political views without being challenged on their very recent and certain pronouncements about, say, the war in Iraq...

Will anyone-- including the PhDs and other intellectuals--ever publicly challenge Dr. Rice on her assumptions, decisions and public statements? Shouldn't this happen when she's offered a forum to express her opinions? This is beyond being courteous. Charlatans must be exposed and ridiculed. If a person argues the world is flat, then, unless ships have fallen off the horizon, such claims must be challenged! Since, persons like Rice, Kristol, Rove, Rumie, Powel, Wolfie, et al--and all the other "experts"--have indeed told us the earth was flat, (in no uncertain terms nonetheless), why the heck do they still get to peddle their "expertise"? Ah, it's the celebrity factor. Oh, and to appear that we don't have a ..liberal bias!

I was just an undergraduate student when I learned that if an external power (that's imposed on the local populace) wants to establish peace and order, as in Iraq, it needs to have a monopoly of violence! In other words, it needs overwhelming force to freeze everything. Wasn't Condoleezza Rice, Ph.D, aware of this when she was making US foreign policy? When, I dare ask, applied ignorance is a disqualifier for further public exaltation? Is power, is single-mindedness, is stubbornness in light of contrary evidence a virtue? Is achieving a goal--no matter of its nature--a higher value, even if it's achieved by whatever means?

So, where do you feel like contributing today when you confronted with a Rovian reality? To the sheep's bleat, or to the vomit bucket?

PS. I had the same reaction with the almost-universal eulogy of Jerry Falwell when he died.

Editor's note: I know it's summertime and we should take it easy--enjoying the opportunities for fun & games and leisure time--but occasionally the conversation can degenerate into harsh political reality, because, heck, politics is what we do; it's what we've invented to get things done. When the test for "done" is a fork in my backside, then I pounce. OK, now I feel better; back to enjoying Perseid showers and Long Island teas. Happy rest of summer to all of you dear bloggers and readers alike.