Representative Steven King, of Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, had been pestering Gretchen to get a telephone consultation with me since the last days of January. Finally, she managed to fit him in on Friday, February 8th.
King: Hello, is this Tom Collins?
Tom: Yes, Representative King, that’s me. How can I help you today?
King: Well, uh, first of all, they tell me your fees are… um… kind of astronomical.
Tom: You get what you pay for, sir. And whom, may I ask, are “they?”
King: Ah, well, the people who recommended you, actually.
Tom: And who might they be?
King: Ron Paul and his son, Rand. Ron gave me your number, actually. But they also said you don’t charge anything for the first consultation, so if that’s still your policy, I’d like to… um… avail myself of that, if I may.
Tom: Of course you may. Now, what issues are on your mind?
King: Karl Rove is out to get me.
Tom: Out to get you? How?
King: You’ve heard of the Conservative Victory Project, I assume?
Tom: I’m reasonably familiar with it, yes. In addition to the presidency, the Republicans lost quite a few House and Senate races in the last election. Mr. Rove’s interpretation of the situation is that, despite the fact the Republican politicians in question had the necessary… ah… attributes… to win their Republican primary elections, the voters rejected them in the general election, largely because of those same attributes. So, he has organized the Conservative Victory Project in order to weed out inept, unstable, or insane Republican candidates before they can…”
King: I say Rove’s got a lot of gall figuring he knows who’s inept, unstable or insane! A lot of gall! His Super-PAC, American Crossroads, spent almost two hundred million dollars on the 2012 elections and nearly every Republican it backed lost!
Tom: I would agree with you, sir, that Karl Rove has a lot of gall. I also believe that Karl Rove is a greedy, heartless, amoral, power-hungry sociopath without the least scintilla of humanity in his cold and empty soul.
King: Good – so we agree he has no place in Washington.
Tom: On the contrary, Representative King, I believe those qualities are exactly the things which make Karl Rove such a success here, since Washington DC is a bizarre maze of mirrors where the supremely evil prosper while decent people die in the gutter like dogs – although there’s a downside too, of course.
King: Oh. Um, well… anyway, Karl Rove’s certainly no conservative, that’s for sure – when he was George W. Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff, he supported a Medicare prescription drug plan, amnesty for illegal aliens, and a foreign policy so unrealistic that would have embarrassed Woodrow Wilson. What’s more, he backed the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court!
Tom: Nevertheless, Rove claims that the Conservative Victory Project is inspired by nothing less than the immortal wisdom of arch-conservative demigod William F. Buckley, who proclaimed that the aim of Republican political strategy should be to support the most conservative candidate who is electable. And obviously, that candidate will vary according to where in the United States the election is held – in New England, for example, a fiscal conservative will be much more electable and a social conservative.
King: But you can’t go around picking and choosing your principles in order to get elected!
Tom: That’s easy for someone who’s from a conservative district with a Cook PVI Rating of plus 4 points Republican to say, sir. The situation may call for considerably more pragmatism in places like Colorado, Connecticut – or even Missouri, for that matter.
King: But what about Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz? What about my buddy Ron’s son, Rand? They all defeated the establishment Republican in the US Senate primary, and went on to win the general election, too, now didn’t they?
Tom: And you figure, when Tom Harkin, who’s a Democrat, leaves his Iowa seat in the US Senate in 2014, you’ll be able to pass the test?
King: What test?
Tom: The Rove test; it has two parts. Part One – can the candidate raise enough money to compete in a general election? Part Two – will the candidate be acceptable to the general electorate?
King: I’m not interested in generalities!
Tom: Exactly. You’re a man of principle, someone who won’t bend or compromise. You voted no on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures; you voted no on an additional eight hundred and twenty five billion dollars for the administration’s economic recovery package; you voted no on monitoring TARP funds to ensure more mortgage relief; you voted no for the GM and Chrysler bailouts; you voted no on the stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure and energy; you voted no to regulating the subprime mortgage industry; you voted no on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation; you voted no on letting corporate shareholders vote on executive compensation; you voted no on anti-gay hate crimes; you voted no to enforcing limits on carbon dioxide global warming pollution; you voted no to assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalization; you voted no on…
King: Hey, wait just a doggone minute there! I’m not an entirely negative guy, you know! I voted “Yes” on plenty of things!
Tom: Sure – you voted yes to withdraw the United States from UNESCO; you voted yes to deauthorize critical habitats for endangered species; you voted yes to opening the outer continental shelf to oil drilling; you voted yes on barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases; you voted yes to “reform” the United Nations by cutting off US funding; you voted yes to…
King: And every one of those votes reflects how my constituents in Iowa feel about those issues!
Tom: All of your constituents?
King: Well… the majority of the voters in my district, obviously.
Tom: And I’m certain that Karl Rove isn’t worried that the majority of the voters in the entire state of Iowa wouldn’t agree with your votes. What he’s worried about is your Akin Factor.
King: My what?
Tom: Your Akin Factor. Todd Akin was the darling of the Republican Tea Party conservatives in Missouri, and he won the primary, but in the general election, he started talking about… ahem… rape… and how, if it’s what he called a “legitimate” rape, then the victim’s natural female processes would prevent pregnancy and…
King: All right, yes, I know about Todd Akin!
Tom: And Richard Mourdock, who beat Dick Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary for US Senate, but then made a public statement that pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God Almighty?
King: He didn’t mean it like that, he…
Tom: Regardless of what he meant, that’s the way it was perceived by the voters, and it cost him the election. And, given those two incidents in 2012, one can certainly see Mr. Rove’s concern about you, who have said, just recently, that you have never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.
King: Well, I meant that I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way. Which is to say, I’ve never had anyone come up to me and state, “My goodness gracious Steve, did you hear that so-and-so’s child got pregnant from incest?” Nor have I ever been told, “Steve, did you know that thus-and-so’s child got pregnant, even though she is below the age of consent in Iowa?” I simply haven’t ever been personally informed about anything like that. This is not to say I wouldn’t be open to a discussion about the possibility that such events might occur, however.
Tom: I see. But didn’t you also say that you don’t believe birth control pills prevent pregnancy?
King: That’s a question of semantics. I believe birth control pills are a form of abortion, not pregnancy prevention.
Tom: Very well then, there you have it, sir. It’s comments like that – followed by explanations like those – which have Karl Rove’s new Conservative Victory Project attacking you, despite the fact that you’re obviously as conservative as Karl Rove, if not more so, despite the fact that it’s twenty-one months before the next election for US Senate, and, despite the fact that you haven’t actually even declared your intention to run yet.
King: Look, the reason we Republicans didn’t win the White House and the Senate in 2012 isn’t that we weren’t mainstream enough, it was because we let Karl Rove and American Crossroads water down our message and foist Mitt Romney on us!
Tom: Sir, there’s absolutely no nice wording to put forth the proposition that people who can’t find a job during the biggest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression are parasites. There’s no politically positive phrasing for the concept that raped women should bear the children who are the products of their ultimate violation. There is no way to express the idea that global warming is a hoax or the concept that the theory of evolution is the work of Satan without…
King: Well, those people are parasites, aren’t they? There are plenty of jobs… or there would be, if we Americans would just grow a backbone and throw all these illegal immigrants out. And it’s not that unborn baby’s fault their father was a rapist, now is it? God says human life is sacred, and I don’t see any footnotes! And as far as that other stuff, well, you go ahead and prove this global warming nonsense is real, much less that humans cause it; and while you’re doing that, you can prove to me that we’re not created in God’s image instead of being first cousins to chimpanzees!
Tom: Unfortunately, sir, I think you’re making Karl Rove’s point right now.
King: What? Now see here – I didn’t call you up to be insulted! What kind of consultant are you, anyhow?
Tom: Not the kind to which you have grown accustomed, evidently.
King: And what kind is that?
Tom: The kind who take your money and tell you what you want to hear – instead of telling you what you need to hear, as I am, and, in this case, free of charge.
King: Uh… yeah, well… there is that aspect of it. Look, the Conservative Victory Project started this, okay? Not me! It’s not like I spent a boatload of money warning the world about the dangers, flaws and shortcomings of Karl Rove, now did I? My supporters have already started a Twitter hashtag, #crushrove, and I’ve already sent out a fund-raising letter to my mailing list, alerting them about what Rove’s up to and asking for money so I can fight back. Now – suppose they send me some. What should I do with it?
Tom: You could seek to discredit him.
King: Oh, you mean like I could spread it around that Karl Rove thinks he’s been abducted by a flying saucer and is attracted to barnyard animals?
Tom: Actually, ah, no offense, but I’m pretty sure that if you were to convince the majority of the Republicans in your district of those two allegations, they might be more likely to support him than you.
King: Hmm… I think I’ll reserve judgment on that one. Okay then, what would you suggest?
Tom: Well, a lot of your colleagues are already yelling that Karl Rove isn’t a real conservative – Phyllis Schlafly, Tony Perkins, Jenny Beth Martin, Manuel Miranda and Richard Viguerie are all up in arms against Rove. So pushing that idea down the slippery slope might make it snowball.
King: Okay… let me get this… join the attack on Rove’s conservative credentials… um… what should I say?
Tom: Well, FreedomWorks has already said that Rove is working in tandem with President Obama to silence grass-roots conservatives. See if you can top that.
King: Okay… what else?
Tom: Rove’s a big time Washington insider, so play up the David versus Goliath theme – you’re fighting his gigantic political machine and so forth. But don’t hesitate to call in big guns on your own side. Donald Trump declared Rove a total loser – and worse – this week, so see if you can get any more good quotes out of him that you can use. And if you haven’t already done so, check in with Shirley and Bannister. They’re going after all the new anti-Rove public relations business that’s sprung up in the last week or so.
King: Right. And?
Tom: You should attack American Crossroads’ miserable record in last two elections – that’s the primary victories of Todd Akin in Missouri in 2012; Sharron Angle in Nevada in 2010; Ken Buck in Colorado in 2010; Linda McMahon in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012; Richard Mourdock in Indiana in 2012; and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware in 2010 over the candidates Rove backed. Then compare that with the senate race losses for American Crossroads-backed candidates Josh Mandel in Ohio; Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin; Connie Mack in Florida; Denny Rehberg in Montana; Rick Berg in North Dakota; George Allen in Virginia; Linda McMahon in Connecticut; Charlie Summers in Maine; Pete Hoekstra in Michigan; Joe Kyrillos in New Jersey; and, Scott Brown in Massachusetts. The first list is a litany of doubt, and the second list is a prophecy of doom, pure and simple. Make sure everyone knows that an endorsement from Karl Rove’s political juggernaut is the Kiss of Death. People have already started calling the Conservative Victory Project the Republican Defeat Project, which, frankly, is pretty lame, so see if the folks on your staff can get together with some of those hotshots over at Shirley and Bannister and come up with something a bit more clever and memorable. For starters, see if they can beat “Con-man’ s Vainglorious Pudfest,” which, as you can confirm, I just made up and tossed off as I was going along while talking to you.
King: Right, got it – snappy, funny, negative name for the CVP.
Tom: Good; now Karl Rove’s fat, but not in a good way like Chris Christie, and Rove is ugly, but not in a sympathetic way, like Jimmy Carter. So remind your staff and the guys and gals at Shirley and Bannister of those two facts and encourage them to riff on snappy, snarky smackdowns and joke angles they can combine with the loser and megalomaniac elements of Rove’s personality to demonize him in an amusing manner.
King: Okay, let me make sure I get this… demonize… in an amusing… manner…
Tom: Right. Get conservatives – or better yet, all of America – snickering derisively every time Karl Rove’s name comes up, and he will be completely neutralized.
King: Gee – you think that can really be done?
Tom: Believe me, Representative King, as far as the majority of Americans who voted against Mitt Romney, Karl Rove’s very own Frankenstein’s monster, that’s currently the appropriate reaction to the mention of either of their names. Play the hand Rove has dealt you adroitly, sir, and you will bulldoze him into the landfill dump of history and bury him in his own garbage.
King: All right! Excellent! I can’t think of anybody who deserves it more!
Tom: I’m certain you can’t, sir. Now, if you would be so kind as to excuse me, I have been informed that a paying client has arrived.
King: Oh, oh, sure, thanks. I’ll… call later… when… um… I can afford it.
Tom: Any time, Representative King.
King: Okay! Goodbye!