Former White House adviser Karl Rove in Oklahoma City, May 17, 2010.
Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

Karl Rove, lost in a sea of ‘make-believe’

As odd as it may seem, Karl Rove continues to maintain a prominent role in conservative media, including a regular column in the Wall Street Journal. In his latest missive, the Republican operative tries his hand at foreign policy, complaining that President Obama’s foreign policy convictions are “startling and disturbing.”
Take Mr. Obama’s Feb. 1 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. The president said American leaders must avoid “suggesting in some fashion” that terrorist networks “are an existential threat to the United States or the world order.”
Is Mr. Obama really blind to the consequences of Islamic State – which the president referred to as a “jayvee team” last year – establishing a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, fueled by oil riches?
The right has complained about Obama’s interview with Zakaria quite a bit, perhaps because conservatives are confused about the meaning of the word “existential.” ISIS militants are, to be sure, a legitimate threat, but the idea that the United States may no longer exist because of the terrorist group is silly. I can’t speak to Rove’s understanding of our national strength, but by most sensible standards, America is the most powerful and most prosperous country on the planet. Are we to believe a group of lunatics will completely erase the United States from the map? Please. Time to grow up, Karl.
As for the notion that ISIS wants to establish a trans-national “caliphate,” Republicans may not realize this, but unhinged terrorists make plenty of bold and ridiculous claims. Tomorrow, ISIS may also announce intentions to establish a colony on Mars. Here’s a suggestion: don’t take ISIS rhetoric at face value. What the group wants and what the group will get are likely to be very different.
But just as important was Rove’s condemnation of the president’s broader strategy in general, which he sees as “delusional.” The Republican strategist warns readers of “the dangers of make-believe foreign policy.”
Let’s make this plain: Karl Rove is the last person who should be giving lectures on “the dangers of make-believe foreign policy.”
About a decade ago, with conditions in Iraq deteriorating, Ron Suskind ran a lengthy, much-discussed piece about the Bush/Cheney White House that Rove helped run. It included these now-legendary paragraphs:
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism.
He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
The words were later attributed to Karl Rove, the guy who has a media platform to complain about the president who’s trying to clean up the mess left by Karl Rove’s old boss. You know, the one whose “make-believe foreign policy” led him to lie the nation into a disastrous war.
In other words, what we’re left with is yet another jarring example of Rove identifying his glaring faults, which he casually projects onto others.
As long-time readers may recall, I’ve long been fascinated by these ironic failures of self-awareness, of which there are many.
* Rove, for example, whose boss left his successor with high deficits, a weak economy, a divided electorate, and violence in the Middle East, has said Obama might leave his successor with high deficits, a weak economy, a divided electorate, and violence in the Middle East.
* Rove has tried to buy elections, so he accuses Democrats of trying to buy elections.
* Rove has relied on scare tactics, so he accuses Democrats of relying on scare tactics.
* Rove embraced a permanent campaign, so he accuses Democrats of embracing a “permanent campaign.”
* Rove relied on pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted political events, so he accuses Democrats of relying on “pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted” political events.
* Rove snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan, so he accuses Democrats of snubbing news outlets that they consider partisan.
* Rove had a habit of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons, so he accuses Democrats of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons.

* Rove complains about Obama attending political fundraisers in the midst of foreign crises, despite the fact that George W. Bush, at Rove’s behest, attended political fundraisers in the midst of foreign crises.
Is it possible Karl Rove is some kind of over-the-top performance artist I just don’t understand?