Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rove's peculiar view of Richmond

So, Karl Rove apparently thinks Richmond is a one-horse town and had the temerity to say so on Sunday morning's Face the Nation. It seems Rove mocked Richmond's diminutive population by naming some more populous towns almost no one in Richmond knew existed.

Since I didn't watch Face the Nation, I didn't catch Rove's attempt to cast aspersions at Gov. Tim Kaine's enlarging reputation as a problem-solving governor (of a medium sized state) and former mayor (of a medium sized city).

Since I was born in the Fan District and have lived in Richmond all my life, must I take umbrage at a low-brow put-down coming from a political figure I thoroughly dislike? There are two pieces in the Richmond Times-Dispatch today that react to Rove's remarks about Richmond. (Click here for Michael Paul Williams's column. Click here for A.Barton Hinkle's OpEd piece.)

Naturally, the political blogosphere has been replete with rather more blustery reactions. (If you need a dose of bluster, click here to check out Waldo's Va. Political Blogroll for any number of posts on this matter.)

Yet, rather than get lathered up over Rove's calculated sneers, it might be more useful to take a stab at figuring out why Bush's former brain was high-profile scoffing at Kaine's firsthand experience in dealing with urban problems as a mayor.

At the top of the list of whys: If Rove wasn't seeing Kaine as a player, a rising star in the Democratic Party, he wouldn't have bothered. Rove obviously wanted to put some talking points into the echo chamber. Those japes were for those who had the ears to hear them.

Next: It was the same tack Texans of his ilk invariably see as their strong suit – size is power, it trumps the other cards.

Moreover, Rove knows the City of Richmond votes Democratic. So, he used the size slam on precincts that he knew wouldn't like it, but were already sure to vote for Sen. Barack Obama and whoever is his running mate, anyway.

Knowing something about Virginia politics, Rove was betting the rest of the Commonwealth's voters, outside of Richmond, wouldn't mind so much his suggesting Richmond isn't nearly as important as it thinks it is.

Knowing something about Virgina, myself, I suspect Rove wasn't far off the mark about that sentiment being widespread in the 'burbs and boondocks.

Another angle to this story -- background -- is that Rove lived in Richmond for a spell. I'm told he and his wife had an apartment in the Fan District in the summer of 1978. It seems a blond, hippie-haired version of Karl was here doing field work for the Republican Party then. I have even heard a few stories about that time ... nothing I can be sure is true, of course.

Anyway, bad luck being what it is, there's the distinct possibility that young Karl left Richmond with a bad taste in his mouth. Which means he might have been giving in to a long-held urge to ruffle the feathers of a mean city he thought should have been more hospitable to him 30 years ago. I'm told he left town in a hurry.

Back to the analysis: Rove has consistently used snide jabs to piss off his opponents. Like any good wiseass, he knows there are some accusations that can't be answered directly. For instance: If I say, “You always argue with me.” You can't say, "No, I don't."

Therefore, if Rove says, “Richmond is a one-horse town.” We should already know we can't say, “No, we live in a two- or three-horse town.”

Verily, we just should shrug off the pointed words of a propagandist without portfolio as pure guff. And, if we just want to make mischief, perhaps we should offer Karl Rove the opportunity to put some flesh on the bones of his firsthand knowledge of Richmond.

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