So we all awaken to the news that Karl Rove is resigning at the end of the month.
Perhaps it's just a cloudy Monday morning in August, but somehow the news doesn't really mean much to me.
It seems curiously far away and already past, like news arriving by sailing ship in the 18th Century. The war is over! And has been for months!
End of an era, blah blah blah. It had already passed.
Republicans sometimes like to delight in the fact that "nobody every laid a glove" on Rove, and legally speaking, I suppose this is true, at least right now. And it's very true that our biggest political predators in this country are rarely held truly accountable. (Exhibit A: Richard Nixon. Exhibit B: Henry Kissinger.)
It's likely we'll wake up some morning six months or ten months from now to the news that Fox Noise is airing the new "Daytime with Scooter and Karl" show, complete with weather girls Ann and Michelle.
Throw in a book deal just in time for the 2008 election, and the wingnut welfare system will take care of Karl. That you can count on.
While Rove was hardly the political genius his admirers thought him to be, as thuggery requires neither brains nor nuance, he did become a symbol of the attitude the GOP carries into elections, and as far as I can tell, still will.
Namely, that anything goes. There's a bunch of boilerplate about democracy and the free market and such, but these people think it is their inherent right to hold power, by virtue of their Republicanism, their alleged conservatism and their well, whiteness. As all three of these things continue to become, more or less, liabilities rather than assets, the implosion seems more evident by the day.
The bad attitude is still apparent the length and breadth of the GOP and its allied funhouse institutions, be it the Discovery Institute, the state GOP, the Dino Rossi non-campaign or the right wing evangelical churches.
The reason this bad attitude is so destructive is not just that it is insulting, which it is, but because it has such a corrosive impact on our society and democracy. The only way they can justify their voter suppression efforts, for example, is to claim that the other side does it.
As anyone can tell you, this is not a new Republican method. When enough people bail out on democracy, they win, because they are a minority in this country.
What Rove did was teach thousands of younger Republicans to consider the political opposition as enemies. While this practice gets dolled up in news accounts with terms like "pugnacious political operative," the bottom line truth is that he helped make it okay to hate me. And you. And you. And you.
If you are different from them or disagree with them, the message was clear: you can be considered enemies, not just opponents.
Without Rove, it's unlikely there would have been fake sex offender postcards mailed out in this state last year. Without Rove, the ginned-up Republican falsehoods surrounding the 2004 gubernatorial election might not have been so severe, and cooler heads could have ensured a more harmonious and civilized recount.
Sadly, there seems to be a permanent contingent in the Washington Republican Party that has internalized Rovian tactics so thoroughly that a change in behavior seems unlikely. (Well, I guess this is sad for the GOP, not us, as the voters continue to recoil from the foolhardy nonsense today's "conservatives" continue to spout.)
There will be future Karl Roves, and whether he someday has a "Lee Atwater moment" and realizes the sickness he helped perpetuate in our country, along with needless amounts of death and destruction in Iraq, remains to be seen.
It would be wonderful if Rove would apologize long before he arrives at his deathbed, but I'm not holding my breath.
In the end, Karl Rove taught us a valuable lesson. Never again can we stand by and let these authoritarian cultists gain power virtually unopposed. Their lack of respect for the actual meanings contained in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is apparent to the most casual observer.
The unitary executive theory, secret prisons, and most obviously of all, the new FISA law, all point to a monarchist mentality.
If the media won't stand up to them, we will. If the Democratic Party won't stand up to them, we will. If we have to use angry language, raise lots of money, or support primary challengers, we will.
We've come a long way, but not nearly far enough, and 2008 is shaping up as a once in a lifetime chance to set this country back on a path to restore integrity, the rule of law, and adherence to our Constitution.
So thanks, Karl. Have a nice "retirement."