So, Karl, how does it feel to face the extremists in your own party?
This thought was first and foremost in my mind when I read today that some Tea Partiers are using an image of Karl Rove dressed as a Nazi to raise money for their cause from the right-wing base. Perhaps Rove will become some sort of corollary, further defining the ever-widening scope of Godwin's Law, who knows? Karl Rove has met the enemy, and it is entirely of his own making, to paraphrase Pogo Possum. The demagogue finally meets the demos (people) he's been agogos-ing (leading) all along.
OK, I realize that's not even close to being bilingually and grammatically correct, but I'm certainly not going to let that stop me (insert your own "it's all Greek to me" joke here). But this goes way beyond garden-variety irony or schadenfreude, when you get right down to it. Such petard-self-hoisting is truly gleeful to watch, as is true for me with most Republican-on-Republican cage matches.
Karl Rove has, for pretty much his entire career as a political operative, been a master manipulator of the public's emotions. Two of Rove's favorite emotions to manipulate are those old Machiavellian standbys: "fear" and "hatred." And now Rove is finding out what it is like to be the target of such emotions, coming from a group he's more used to leading than defending against.
For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Rove has spent a lot of time -- and a lot of other people's money -- over the past three or four years attempting to co-opt the Tea Party energy to do the Republican Party's bidding. His whole "American Crossroads" political money machine dedicated itself towards this goal, very early on. Karl produced hundreds of millions of dollars of negative advertisements viciously attacking Democrats and President Obama in the last election cycle, for instance. He didn't get much of a return on this investment, to put it mildly.
Now Karl's come up with a new idea, and a new group which is dedicated to "victory" for Republicans. Karl's problem, however, is that achieving such victory means weeding out the nutjobs who keep on winning Republican primaries (and then losing general elections). Karl is desperately pleading with the Tea Partiers to take "electability" into account when putting forth candidates. You know -- people who won't actually admit out loud what is actually core Republican philosophy, especially when it comes to women and rape and abortion.
The Tea Partiers, notably, are not a group of folks who take kindly to being told who to support by Republican political consultants, however. And that's putting it about as politely as humanly possible.
Which brings us to the current state of open warfare within the Republican Party, and also indirectly to Godwin. Here's today's news (which you'll have to click on to see the photo of Rove as an SS Reichsführer, and all the supporting links):
A tea party group portrayed leading Republican strategist Karl Rove as a Nazi in an email it sent Tuesday -- and later had to apologize for it, blaming a contractor.
The Tea Party Patriots, a well-established group within the right-wing movement, sent out the message featuring a Photoshopped image of Karl Rove in a Nazi uniform, Politico reported. The email's subject read: "Wipe the Smirk Off Karl Rove’s Face."
The email was sent under the name of Tea Party Patriots co-founder and national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin in a fundraising solicitation. But Jameson Cunningham, a spokesperson for the group, said it was an unfortunate accident.
"The image was a mistake which was never approved by TPP,” Cunningham told Politico.
Martin later apologized, saying a vendor was responsible for the Nazi image.
In other words: "Nothing to see here... it was all a mistake... we're really sorry that this got in the news and became a big story, because we really meant it only to be seen by people who might donate money to our organization." The irony is so thick and juicy, it's a wonder they're not slicing it up and selling slabs of it to make money as well.
In 1990, a guy named Mike Godwin came up with a very technical "law" concerning bringing up Nazis in online conversation. While the original Godwin's Law is limited in scope, since its creation it has been widely expanded into something along the lines of: "When you bring up Hitler or Nazis in a conversation, it ends the effectiveness of that conversation." Playing the "Nazi card," in other words, shuts down the debate because no rational conversation can happen when such hyperbole is being tossed about.
Rove, meet Godwin. Couldn't have happened to a more appropriate person, really. You can't really complain about the whirlwind when you sowed that particular wind yourself -- maybe that should be the "Rove Corollary" to Godwin's Law. When you've proudly been called "Turd Blossom" by a sitting president, it's kind of hard to complain when the turds start flying your way.
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant