Karl Rove is pushing back on tea party accusations that he embodies the worst of the GOP establishment. Again.
Rove has found himself on the wrong side of the tea party quite a few times this election season. Yesterday, on CBS’ Face The Nation, he stood up to critics on the ultra-right who say he’s part of the failed Republican establishment they’re hoping to purge with nominees like Sharron Angle, Ken Buck and Christine O’Donnell.
Rove’s stand lasted less than one minute, before he hastily apologized to the tea party and He Who Must Be Obeyed among the GOP, Rush Limbaugh.
The most recent flap began last week, when Rove told Der Spiegel that the movement driving the GOP these days lacked the “well-organized, coherent” and “ideologically motivated” backbone of the Reagan Revolution.
“If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated,” Rove told the German paper, according to the Huffington Post. “It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care.”
So there you have it. Rove, the Architect, thinks the modern driving force in the GOP — you know, the one that stars a woman who had to assure voters that “I’m not a witch” in her campaign commercials — lacks the, er, polish of the party during the Reagan era. (As HuffPo noted, the Der Spiegel interview wasn’t the first time Rove’s said it.)
Bring on Rush’s outrage, Rove’s desperate attempts to redeem himself with his conservative Republican friends, and Rove’s eventual apology to all involved. It’s a movie we’ve seen before, but yesterday was a far more truncated version.Last time around, Rove’s inadvertent bout of telling it like it is in regards to, in that case, O’Donnell’s candidacy caused a 24-hour war on the Architect from his friends on the right. Rove told Sean Hannity on the night O’Donnell became the Republican nominee in Delaware that GOP voters interested in capturing Vice President Biden’s old Senate seat had just made their lives a lot tougher. For that he was eviscerated (rhetorically) by Limbaugh and others. Polls appear to have showed Rove to be right — O’Donnell’s trailing the Democrat by double-digits — but that doesn’t matter. He quickly made his apology to all involved last month and jumped aboard the O’Donnell train.
Despite his attempts to stamp out that tea party brushfire that threatens to leave him and his establishment friends on the outside of the tea party revolution, it’s become clear that attacking Rove for his O’Donnell blasphemy is now the diss du jour for Republicans attempting to build tea party cred. Sarah Palin already called Rove out for talking negatively about O’Donnell and yesterday Mike Huckabee joined in.
“I was very disappointed in some, particularly Karl and others, who were so dismissive of Christine O’Donnell,” Huckabee told a New York radio show, as first reported by Politico‘s Ben Smith. Huckabee told the host that establishment types like Rove are “one of the reasons the Republicans have not been able to solidify not only the tea party movement but solidify conservatives across America.”
So it looks like the O’Donnell fire’s not out quite yet. And now, thanks to Der Spiegel, Rove has a new flame up to deal with. This time around, Rove seems to be trying to get ahead of the critics’ attacks, literally apologizing to Limbaugh and the tea party seconds after (mildly) criticizing them.
Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer asked Rove about Limbaugh’s concern over the “not sophisticated” stuff, which the CBS news veteran said was part of a larger concern among the right that “you [Rove] feel threatened by the Tea Party because you and the–the other establishment folks didn’t have anything to do with forming it.”
Rove responded by saying that his comments to Der Spiegel were “taken out of context” by Limbaugh and others. Schieffer expressed some surprise at this, and asked Rove to expand on his suggestion that El Rushbo himself took people out of context when attacking them.
Rove took the opportunity to immediately heap praise on Limbaugh and, essentially, offer his apology for any offense.
“Well, in this instance, he– he didn’t– he may have commented before he saw the entire interview,” Rove said. “Look, he’s a friend of mine. And he is more– he is almost more than anybody else is responsible for helping encourage people to educate themselves about the– the impact of the spending, the deficit and Obamacare so that they have become politically active. He has a vast audience and that audience and– and others have talked to that audience as well.”
Watch Rove’s mini-diss on Limbaugh and instant walk-back here (the dance begins at around the 8:00 mark):