'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Karl at the Bat 

So Bush was asked directly if he was going to go to the Olympics and said no. The denial happened down at the OK Corral where Bush was attending a meeting in which he pretended to listen to defense and national security officials and where the press questioned him about his favorite Olympic sports. Here's the transcript of the exchange:

QUESTION: You're not going to Athens this week, are you?

BUSH: Athens, Texas?


QUESTION: The Olympics in Greece.

BUSH: Oh, the Olympics. No, I'm not.

The reason the question was asked, of course, is because Drudge recently reported that there was talk of sending Bush on a secret mission to the Olympics to see an Iraqi soccer match and, presumably, appear in an Iraqi-soccer-themed photo-op. Bush's denial could mean that Drudge was full of shit, but more likely it indicates that the leak to Drudge was a trial balloon gingerly released from Fat Karl's grubby little hands and unceremoniously shot down by insurgents in Najaf.

To be honest, I'm a little bit disappointed. I must admit I like to watch Karl do his job. There is tremendous comic appeal in Rove's negative stuff, for example, the current Swift-Boat-Stooges-for-yada-yada-yada operation. The swift boat stunt in particular has an austere beauty in its pure unadulterated hypocrisy and succeeds swimmingly as black comedy, but, for my money, you can only really appreciate the full Rove touch in the man's positive work, his shameless propaganda set pieces. Who else would have even considered the Mission Accomplished photo-op? One can just imagine Rove's albino-like visage in some underlit office in DC yelling into the phone, "Look, I hear what you're telling me but I don't care. We're flying him on to an aircraft carrier and he's wearing a fucking flightsuit! He's giving the speech in a flightsuit, okay." Or who can forget the secret mission to Thanksgiving in Iraq in which Fat Karl had Bush pose with a plastic turkey and managed to get the talking heads of the nightly news to breathlessly read reams of secret mission boiler-plate? After the Thanksgiving trip, Rove even got a 100% phony anecdote ("Did I just see Air Force One?", asked a British pilot no one could seem to find) into the mainstream press coverage and then merchandised the fucking phony anecdote (CNN reported that "large pins featuring the president's plane and the BA pilot's words -- 'Did I just see Air Force One?'" sold out at gift shops in Crawford) ... Now that's Karl Rove.

So had the Olympic photo-op taken place it would have been a sight to behold. Maybe Karl could have fixed the soccer semifinals and finals and had Bush present the Iraqi athletes with their gold medals personally? Or Bush could have handed out cowboy hats and beef jerky and joined the fawning Iraqis for a pick-up game of footie before the steps of the Acropolis. Personally I'd liked to have seen it. I'd like to have seen Bush shaking hands with that midfielder from Fallujah whose cousin was killed while fighting the occupation and who says that if he wasn't playing soccer he'd be taking up arms against the Americans himself. Maybe it'll still happen but it seems that the Iraqi soccer team's virulent hatred of Bush -- and, perhaps more importantly, the press's willingness to write stories about the Iraqi soccer team's virulent hatred of Bush -- has spooked Karl Rove.

Which raises the interesting question -- What will be Karl Rove's positive centerpiece of this campaign? What image will he attempt to burn into the consciousness of America just before the election? It will be an image. It's always an image with him. Rove is said to believe that you should run every political campaign as if people are watching television with the sound turned down. He's been swinging at the ball but missing quite a bit lately, but let's not count our boy out just yet.

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