Frontline: Karl Rove - The Architect
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One of the most polarizing figures in 21st Century American politics is examined in Karl Rove - The Architect, an hour-long PBS profile of the man generally regarded as President George W. Bush's most trusted and influential advisor. Whether one admires or deplores Rove's tactics, few would argue that they aren't effective. After all, this "nerdy intellectual," as one interviewee describes him, guided Bush to victory in four consecutive elections--twice as governor of Texas and twice as president--with a strategy that relied primarily on a few distinct "anger points" (such as Texas tort reform in '94 and gay marriage in '04) that galvanized the candidate's conservative/evangelical Christian base, while simultaneously contriving a series of attacks that managed to turn the opponent's own major strengths (like John Kerry's military service) against him. But Rove's "smashmouth politics," a technique he learned from the late Lee Atwater (whose so-called "dirty tricks" helped elect Bush's father in 1988), also have a longer-term goal: the creation of "a permanent Republican majority." Whether or not he succeeds is open to question, especially considering that at the time of the October '05 DVD release of The Architect (a name bestowed on Rove by Bush himself), the president's ratings were plummeting and Rove was facing possible indictment for his alleged role in "outing" CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame. How he feels about all of that is unknown, as Rove declined to participate in this admirably unbiased documentary. --Sam Graham
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First...the beginning of the program the makers have to mention that Karl Rove's Republican roots go back to his teenage years and his true belief in traditional conservative principles of governing and law. Its really never mentioned again....but throughout the program the narrator , in a very ominous tone, refers to his master plan to basically seat Republicans in every office in the country. I don't find that problematic in one bit....would not a true Democratic believer want Democrats to win every election? The more telling aside that the "documentary film makers" make early on is that somehow George W Bush doesn't have a single original idea that doesn't serve Karl Rove and his desire to see him elected and re-elected. When a program "jumps the shark" that badly its hard for me to take the rest of it seriously.
Also..the contributors are primarily Dana Milbank and his gang of Bush haters in the media and primarily the Washington Post. The contributors from the Bush Campaign only comment (at least what we are shown) on facts of the campaigns ...all the theories and implications come from the talking heads with left leaning political agendas to espouse.
Karl Rove is pretty much called out as inventing hard hitting or dirty attack campaign ads in this program and its done often...and without any substantiation. First off..it was a Democrat , LBJ, that invented the televised attack ad with his legendary nuclear bomb and young girl with a flower ad that crushed Barry Goldwater in 1964! Secondly...while much is made of the Republicans rightfully showing John Kerry ...saying himself.."I first voted yes before I voted no"....the film makers attach no significance to the news shortly before the 2000 election that Governor Bush had a DUI in his history!
That is presented in a way to show how deftly Rove got around it but goodness...can we really ascribe something devious to every negative issue surfacing about a Democrat and accept that when dirt is dug up about Republicans that its not for similar reasons?
The idea that George W Bush spent his time in office taking on policies that were directed by Karl Rove to firstly allow him re election and secondly allow Republicans to take over the world is ridiculous...and history bears that out.
This film was constructed before the 2006 mid terms and to me seems like the flop film "W" that Oliver Stone rushed into theaters prior to the 2004 election..designed to influence. The fact that Karl Rove chose not to participate does not surprise me as he was serving in office at the time so it would have been premature and inappropriate. I also believe he was better served appearing on interview shows which were not able to be chopped up and edited to allow for distortions like this waste of time. Oh,and by the way, I'm a registered Democrat who has never voted for a Republican presidential candidate but love reading about political and historical figures and events.
Rather, this was a poorly structured, wandering commentary that would have you believe that Rove invented negative campaigning (he didn't) and that it is used exclusively by the Republicans (not hardly.)
It starts out in a somewhat organized fashion discussing Rove's background and the application of modern demographics and marketing to political messaging and campaigning, but quickly degenerates into some kind of Washington Post editorial piece of the evils of Republican campaigning the Bush administration (what a surprise, considering the source.)
If you are a student of political campaigns and messaging, this documentary is a major disappointment and really doesn't add any value.
Still, it's creepy seeing this innocent-looking, doughboy-faced guy being such a wicked Far Right mastermind. The documentary shows that he was thin in his youth; it says nothing on how and why he got fat. Granted, Rove declined to interview, but it was still eerie seeing others opine on a man that is alive and could have spoken for himself. But I guess that would ruin his diabolical, behind-the-scenes work.
When in doubt, Karl Rove uses HOMOPHOBIA to win elections. Almost all of Bush's opponents were trashed as "gay-lovers" under his schemes. It sickens me that he would use this group to get over, but it sickens me more that so many Americans are so bigoted that they are easy prey to Rove's prejudiced pied-piping.
Mary Matalin is the only pro-Rove interviewee here who is not a white male. This just resignifies how incredibly un-diverse the Republican Party is. But the people have spoken loud and clearly that they don't want diverse leadership. You get you what you ask for.
Now that Rove is receiving negative publicity, it was a bit easier to watch this documentary. I dislike the man, but I can respect his cunning. This documentary was a great way for progressives to learn more about their enemies.