Quietly Terrifying Karl Rove NYT Interview

Meant to blog this when it came out, but it's one of the funniest/creepiest things I've ever read in the Times: a really odd Q&A with Karl Rove. By the time you reach the end, you half expect the guy to bust out the chianti and liver and start hissing at you:
Have you met Barack Obama?
Yes, I know him. He was a member of the Senate while I was at the White House and we shared a mutual friend, Ken Mehlman, his law-school classmate. When Obama came to the White House, we would talk about our mutual friend.

Did you have lunch together? Talk in the hall?
We sat in the meeting room and chatted before the meeting. He had a habit of showing up early, which is a good courtesy.

Are you going to send him a little note congratulating him?
I already have. I sent it to his office. I sent him a handwritten note with funny stamps on the outside.

What kind of funny stamps?

Party Loyalist (Deborah Solomon, NYT; thanks Susannah Breslin)

Previously on Boing Boing:
* Essay: "I'm the proud owner of Karl Rove’s father’s solid gold cock ring."
* Karl Rove's Pierced Family Jewels, part 2: Jim Ward interview (audio)
* Karl Rove's pierced family jewels, pt. 3: Fakir Musafar and PFIQ (audio)


  1. It’s interesting to watch the far right’s reaction to Obama. For 8 years, anything short of full support for Bush was labeled as un-American or un-patriotic, as if everyone had some duty to blindly support/worship the president. It was convenient for Bush supporters to make this argument since their man was in power. So now I’d like to see how patriotic these same people are a year from now. Will they replace their framed Bush prints hanging in their kitchen with framed Obama prints? Will they criticize anyone who doesn’t fully support President Obama? I’d love to see some follow-up interviews.

  2. totally. fucking. creepy.

    I like that the idea of politics being transparent has been seen as laughable by the people who have been in control the last 8 years.

  3. To be perfectly fair, the interview is only creepy because we know the source, and we know that he is probably choosing his words carefully and trying to “spin” everything (for example, I bet someone could indeed find evidence of him saying “permanent republican majority” somewhere, but if he denies it the conservative echo chamber will repeat that claim ad-infinitum as a truth). To Rove’s credit he know that politics is a dirty business, to Obama’s credit he knows it doesn’t have to be.

  4. I don’t get it, what’s creepy? Defensive, definitely. It also ends on an odd note, with him demanding the transcript. I don’t generally consider Hannible Lector as defensive.

  5. I keep saying (to my sig-other ) that there will be/should be indictments,trials, convictions and prison terms for Rove,Rice,Cheney,and Rumsfield. Not Powell – and Bush probably has protection built in. And she says no – bad for the country. I say yes, they should pay. It was Jefferson who said: “…The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” Well, we know who the tyrants are. They shouldn’t be allowed the comfort of their compounds and their martinis. These people have cost us TRILLIONS! You, me and our children and their children. Maybe Pelosi should be replaced – she hasn’t lived up to hopes and expectations that she would start impeachment proceedings.

  6. What I found creepy about this wasn’t so much what was said but the way it was said. Rove’s answers sounded like the output of a failed Turing test.

  7. @10 I hope you called for the same indictments/trials/convictions/prison terms/impeachment during the Clinton years as well.

    haha “comfort of their compounds and martinis”..you crack me up..

  8. #6 POSTED BY TAKUAN , NOVEMBER 25, 2008 11:45 AM:
    >after the trials, if we can only hang one, let it be Rove.

    Hanging this traitor would be too kind.

  9. well, you see, eagle, the difference is that Clinton did not utterly destroy the nation and wreck the global economy. A subtle difference, but important.

  10. It’s so weirdly terse in all the answers that I really wonder about the last line: “INTERVIEW CONDUCTED, CONDENSED AND EDITED BY DEBORAH SOLOMON”

    Rove is the one who said he was going to transcribe the interview, not here. Strange. I’d love to hear the tape.

  11. I think the ignorance is what is most terrifying. The resolve to do something completely wrong, and to keep doing that, even in the face of their own failure, is nothing short of malevolent.

    “‘You’ve never repudiated President Bush.’
    ‘No. And I never will. He did the right things.’

    ‘What about Iraq and the economy?’
    ‘The world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone.'”

    What? What about the economy? Are two part questions too deep a concept for him? Is his attention span only half a second? Or does he really, truly believe that the course of the nation for the past 8 years has been the proper course? How long can you hold on to the false hope that things are going to get better on their own? Forever? I hope not…

  12. Sorry I don’t feel like our nation is destroyed. And I also don’t see how you can place any majority of blame for our failing economy on Bush either. Democrats had just as much a hand in it.

    Clinton committed perjury and bold faced lied to the world on national TV, but hey he played a great sax!

  13. No one could ever rightfully accuse Karl Rove of being charming. Really, the most justice I expect is that he’ll really have history judge him. He *ought* to go down as one of the worst things to happen to America. So should Bush.

    It was only Republican unity and the willingness to sell out his past that allowed John McCain not to burst into flames at any point Rove’s name was mentioned in his presence. More than anyone else, John McCain should know what an utter bastard Rove was – Rove’s turn on one’s own if that’s what it takes to win tactics in South Carolina cost McCain a lot in the 2000 Republican primaries. Rove’s name is synonymous with dirty campaigning.

    Do you think the era of negative politics is over?

    Do you see yourself as being associated with it in any way?
    Look, in 1800 the sainted Thomas Jefferson arranged to hire a notorious slanderer named James Callender, who worked as a writer at a Republican newspaper in Richmond, Va. Read some of what he wrote about John Adams. This was a personal slander.

    What did he say?
    He said he lacked the spine of a man and the character of a woman. Negative politics have always been around.

    Do you think you’re negative?

    Some people really are nasty creeps. It’s not an “oh, he was misunderstood” issue unless you’ve got a hardcore inability to deal with reality, which is an affliction many Republicans have. It’s an inability to really grasp that there’s a fundamental flaw in the conservative movement. Not in the core philosophy, but in the people who’re in power making policy – they’re mean spirited and vindictive. Not all the time. I’m not saying that they’re bad people all the time, but the current crop of conservatives have taken revenge as well as played politics. They hit back just to hurt the other guy, not to get what they want done. They do it to each other. Like Rove did to McCain.

  14. Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here for the next 4 years in a secret bunker located 30 miles below Rocky Mountains sipping Pina Coladas. Make sure to tip your incumbants.

  15. After my post above I did a little looking around and on the first page of a google search on “Deborah Solomon” are multiple links criticizing her interview style. This one from the HuffPo was the most damning:


    Ira Glass and Tim Russert have called her tactics into question. I think Rove’s a terrible influence on American politics, but apparently Solomon is a terrible influence on American journalism.

  16. People who still shake their fists about a lie about a blowjob think that they hold the moral high ground, while their Flight Suit Hero authorized the incarceration and torture of juveniles and they say nothing. Hundreds of billions of dollars go unaccounted for in the Sandbox, and they say nothing. American citizens are illegally spied on, and they say nothing. Soldiers are stop lossed beyond their breaking points, and they say nothing. Wounded veterans find themselves charged for everything from the meals they eat at Walter Reed to the gear they left behind when they got hit, and they say nothing.

    But curse the Clenis! It destroyed the country!


  17. haha..Takuan I’m not trying to absolve Bush of anything. The last 8 years were a total fucking mess brother. I just think its skewed that a lot of the contributors to this blog seem to firmly believe that Bush himself was the pioneer of deception and lying, and before his 8 years the world and our country were just perfect.

    but it’s a very liberal blog i know..i just need to go with the flow I guess and quit sharing my thoughts.

  18. Rove’s bad, no argument there. However, the questions posed – do you regret x, do you think you’re negative – are clearly aggressive questions designed to back him in a corner. To assume these things, and to try and move on to the next step, is like asking the unanswerable question “Does your mom know you’re gay?”, no offense to the gay people out there. To even answer the question is to affirm an intimation you don’t agree with.

    So, I’m not surprised his answers were guarded, short, and curt. He doesn’t deserve better questions, true, but I don’t find this article to have any journalistic integrity at all.

  19. wareagle, really , what color is the sky in your world. let’s see, who was in charge of things for basically the last eight years? oh, right, the democrats. what was i thinking, thinking that g.w.bush and company should be held accountable for ANYTHING. they certainly don’t. oh, wait. bush said he did do one thing wrong. he said “bring it on.” his one mistake ( according to him). and since rush limprod has now dubbed the financial crisis ” obama’s recession” how could anyone argue that obama didn’t cause it! and of course, it all started with clinton’s bj! now it makes perfect sense! no wonder we didn’t see it , what with our selves blinded by the ‘liberalness’ of this blog. thank goodness some out there like yourself have the gargantuan balls to stop thinking for yourself, and just let the big boys handle all the important stuff. oy gevalt.

  20. I didn’t see anything particularly sinister (Really? Hannibal Lecter?) in this at all. Prhps mr thn nythng, yr prjctns r nthng mr thn jst tht–yr prjctns–nt Rv.

    Try sm bjctvty n fr sz. Bcm mr dspssnt, rsnbl–yr gy wn!

    Smile! r, scmpr nt sm hl, frghtnd s y mght b f Rv, th Bgymn.

    Bt strngly ncrg y t sml bt mr, nd b lss f sr-pss….

  21. @MNTPHRSH. th nly pnt ws tryng t mk s tht Clntn ws pc f sht T! Gt t? H wnt bfr cngrss nd ld!! Wht thr tst f chrctr s thr?? m rlly dstrbd hw mch y ll dfnd tht. f Clntn hdn’t bn n pwr drng th grtst cnmc bm f th 20th cntry fld by tchnlgy thn w’d ll lk bck n hs prsdncy s flr whch ndd n hm bng mpchd.

    nythng bynd tht s y nd GRMC pttng wrds nt my mth. FCK BSH. bt s sm bjctvty nd Y THNK FR YRSLF JCKSS.

  22. #38 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , NOVEMBER 25, 2008 1:08 PM

    Wareagle, are you Karl Rove?

    I get the creepy feeling Karl has been disemvoweled at Boing Boing before…

    I’d like a look at that IP address…

  23. whoa. wareagle, you sound a lil angry there pahdna. need a hug? clinton lied about extra-marital sex. something that was really none of any of our bidniss. bush, cheney, et al, have lied about EVERY MOTHER FUCKING THING. they have allowed every single environmental law to be gutted to the point of absurdity. they have ( and continue to)abused our military personel. they have cheated and stolen and pillaged our economy til there ain’t hardly nothing left. and in the end, NOT A FUCKIN THING WILL WILL HE BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR. but, yeah, sure, clinton was just as big a piece of shit. if that helps you sleep at night.

  24. I love people saying ‘you put words into my mouth’. As if you controlled them with MAGIC and made them suddenly be stupid for no reason at all. As if all this time prior to this they were rocket scientists until they met you and then suddenly you somehow turned them into inbred,morons using a magical spell and ‘put words into their mouths’.

    Begone foul demon!!! I banish ye back to the netherworld of vowels and conjunction junctions from wenst ye came!

  25. Hvng jst rd ll f ths cmmnts, wht m m lft wth s… nthng. Th cnsstnt, sphmrc nnty dsn’t bd wll fr bng bng.

  26. Wareagle: Grimc and MinTphresh have it absolutely right.

    Let me get this straight: Clinton just happened to preside during the big tech boom and had nothing to do with our unparalleled prosperity, while bush just happened to preside during the beginning of the 2nd great depression and had nothing to do with it as well? I can see how the facts would get in the way of what seems to pass for reasoning in your head. I can see why “voodoo economics” is a viable fiscal policy for you, since the workings of the economy seem to have no connection to direct actions. You can’t even get it right that Clinton sucked as a sax player. Dude! How do you put your pants on with having to zip them in the back (not to mention that huge hole for your head?) If you’re going to try to pretend to go with the flow here in this “liberal blog” why don’t you just STFU!?!

    Roemun: Thanks for adding a big heaping bowl of sophomoric inanity yourself. ;D

  27. phikus FTMFW! ROEMUN, go troll over at rushlimbaugh.com or somewhere that your stupidity can be better appreciated. and wareagle, i read your ignant comment on the nigerian scam thread, mind bogglin! if that is truly how you reason, then all i can do is shake my head in wonder. and notice: i said all that without resorting to name calling. and i forgive you for calling me a JACKASS. i know that when faced with reason and facts it must get pretty scary for ya.

  28. takuan, as much as i like your idea, i think 8 years in a regular people’s federal penitentiary would be the best education karl rove could ever have.

    i am trying hard to be magnanimous but that’s the best i can come up with.

  29. XENO: “a blowjob never got anyone killed. Of course this may be debatable but I would love to see precedent for it.”

    If you see one that does, DON’T POST IT!

    PHIKUS: Bush presided over 9/11 through no fault of his own. That’s not any sort of defense, that’s history. What his administration did in response will be discussed, evaluated and, it appears, paid for, for a long time.

  30. Short version:

    Q. Good morning, Mr. Rove.
    A. Fuck you.

    I actually have to admire a weird kind of integrity about the guy. He wants to get Republicans elected by any means necessary; he doesn’t care about anything else, and he doesn’t pretend to care about anything else.

    1. I don’t believe that Rove is a Republican. I think that he’s an opportunist. Many political operatives start out at one end of the political spectrum and make a U-turn to the other. For some it might be the money, but I’m inclined to think that they enjoy the quasi-criminality of it. Whichever group offers the best opportunities for lying and cheating seems like the best boss. I doubt that Rove has any sincere political sentiments.

  31. Short version:

    Q. Good morning, Mr. Rove.
    A. Fuck you.

    I snortlaughed.

    Also: It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t
    be bargained with…it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear…and it absolutely will not stop.

  32. teller, he and his admin were given plenty of warning, i.e. fbi docs titled ” bin laden determined to strike within the u.s.” and ” al-queada operatives using fl. flight schools” and ” bin laden plans to use aircraft to attack u.s. targets”. all submitted in the months and weeks prior to 9/11. bushco just chose to ignore them. it was exactly the kind of “pearl harbor type event” that he and his cronies were hoping for. then, afterwards, they did everything in their power to stonewall and hinder the investigation(?). and continue to do so. they also use subpoena to wipe their bungies with. i hope they get a rash at the least.

  33. “Bush presided over 9/11 through no fault of his own. That’s not any sort of defense, that’s history. What his administration did in response will be discussed, evaluated and, it appears, paid for, for a long time.”

    Wow, you win today’s “No Shit Sherlock” award.

  34. The recent PBS American Experience show about Lee Attwater was revealing; I got the impression (valid or not) that he didn’t really care about any of the issues per se, rather only how they could help or hurt his side. I sometimes get that impression from Rove; it’s not about what’s moral or right or reasonable, but what gets your side elected, as if this were an all-out war between hated enemies, and not a political process by which we elect people to represent the populace in a glorified civil service job. If you have to use trickery to get your guy into office, chances are he doesn’t deserve to be in office anyway.

  35. I’m so glad my boss isn’t like that! I’m working with The White House even now, and became a huge fan of George W. Bush (whitehouse.gov). I especially like outing covert operatives and getting uncooperative federal judges fired. It’s awesome!

  36. I must be the only one who’s all prepared on 1/20 to replace my framed Bush print with the Obama print.

    Oh, Nationalism.

    1. in other words, a psychopath

      Possibly. There would have to be a suppressed empathy component. But simple adrenaline addiction might do that.

  37. its o.k. teller. i still loves ya! odd how that info was just kinda glossed over in the ‘mainstream ( re: faux news, the most trusted news source in the u.s.uv a.! by most recent zogby poll)news’. well, if condi says it’s not that important, then by gawd, its not that important!

  38. is he a psychopath: psychopath |ˈsīkəˌpaθ|
    a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior. or a sociopath: sociopath |ˈsōsēōˌpaθ|
    a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. I’m going with sociopath.

  39. Mikelist@55: I’m afraid I agree with that.

    Teller@56: “Bush presided over 9/11 through no fault of his own.”

    I’ll give ya a prize if you can definitively prove that one. There’s a lot of things in that box alone, actually, that will be discussed, evaluated and, it appears, paid for, for a long time.

    What he did that day and in response since has been so entirely categorically chock full of sociopathic lies and Machiavellian tragedy such that now they are steadfastly denied by the rest of their own party base. This is why Rove has to “stay the course” and be the very last man to mea culpa because he has been the man behind the curtain all along.

    The rest of you still supporting his like are just buying a dose of Turdblossom’s spacial brand of denial. Government approved Freedom Lite for the masses that breathe red white and blue.

    Tjvm@57: I echo the sentiment of your short version.

    I actually have to admire a weird kind of integrity about the guy. He wants to get Republicans elected by any means necessary; he doesn’t care about anything else, and he doesn’t pretend to care about anything else.”

    Actually, he cares that you tow the party line too, as nine federal justices found out. Being a cronie also helps in huge amounts though.

    Seyo@63: Yes. Shit. Actually.

    Jahknow@67: I saw what you did there, and I liked it. Yessir, I did.

  40. Turdblossom’s spacial brand of denial. Government approved Freedom Lite for the masses that breathe red white and blue.

    Sorry, I forgot the fine print on the label, as did almost half of the voting population for the previous 8 years:

    *-Guaranteed to be unhealthy for a nation, especially a super-power. Use only with misdirection.

    Yes, and I meant to spell “special” spacial to get the accent just right. ;D

  41. Sociopathic, I agree…the deaths of others are useful to people like Rove. I’ll always remember him dancing -dancing!- like a moron on stage on CNN while the crawl described hundreds – hundreds! – dead in Bagdad bombings that had happened that day….Iraq was at peace when W. came to power, and he used US blood-lust and boredom to violently destroy an entire nation…what “great men of vision”!
    No, Rove, Bush et al won’t be forgotten, not for a very long time. I remember how many Americans marched to try to stop the War…

  42. Working at a Fedex Office location in Austin, I actually met Karl’s wife who seemed nice enough. She goes by another last name, but all of her packages had ‘Karl Rove’ as the sender. As soon as I asked if she was the wife of THE Karl Rove, she confirmed it and asked that I not mention it to anyone because she likes to ‘just stop in to these places without being hassled.’

    She was surprisingly mailing back extra merchandise that a company she ordered some goods from threw in her box without charging her.

    Complete contrast from the man… She seemed a little too happy when she mentioned she didn’t see him much as he is ‘always travelling.’

    Was just an interesting encounter all together. (Especially because I just moved to Austin from Fairbanks, Alaska 3 years ago, so I was a bit star struck, but star really isn’t the right word for it.) I was trying very hard to bite my tongue and not ask anything too vindictive.

  43. re; 14 “I hope you called for the same indictments/trials/convictions/prison terms/impeachment during the Clinton years as well.”

    First, I think you have the order incorrect.

    Impeachment/indictment/trial/conviction/prison term, each depending on the result of the previous, of course. Innocent until proven guilty. This is still America, after all.

    So, no one had to call for Clinton’s impeachment because he WAS impeached. And gosh, after a far ranging investigation headed by Ken Starr there was no indictment.

    Yes, Clinton was cited for contempt of court. He was fined and his law license was suspended. Justice served.

    I think what was fair for Clinton is fair for Bush. Have you read the 35 Articles of Impeachment? There is certainly enough evidence that there is a good cause to determine whether indictments are in order.

    Yes, people are angry at the perceived lack of justice, both in the apparent actions of the Bush administration and the lack of investigation by Congress.

    This isn’t being left-wing liberal. This is simply looking for the rule of law, above which no one in this country should be.

  44. My friend K, who was Charles Manson’s counselor/therapist at Vacaville, and who worked as a psychologist in the California Adult Authority system for twenty-five years, prefers “sociopath” to describe both Bush and Rove, reserving “psychopath” for uncontrollably violent people unable to survive within the confines of the law. Both men work within the rules as they understand them or as they define them but appear to be without conscience or moral qualms; classic but cunning low-level sociopaths operating at the highest levels of society.

    I asked, What about Cheney?

    Uncomplicated evil, he said.

  45. Ahh Karl Rove. The Lars Von Trier of politics. So antagonic yet so telling about the botomless pit of human evil.

  46. I don’t find it creepy, but rather truthful or direct.

    To me, the recent republican, conservative administration has been somewhat of an eye-opener. It has allowed me to understand that there was more to the world than liberal thinking–to which I may not have identified much with in the past for several reasons, for instance I think that left-wing people obviously do not have the monopoly over reason and moral (the same applies to very religious people probably!) and also I was not impressed by the negative mentality of the left–whatever they may say about it. Although idealism has its place, I believe that conservatism obviously has its place too of course. I also believe that security issues were largely well-intended and that they will serve the purpose of freedom in America in the long run.

  47. “I was not impressed by the negative mentality of the left–whatever they may say about it.”

    Sure, Negativity: Don’t go to war and kill untold thousands of people who never did anything to us, because the world will be a better place if that prick Saddam Husssein is dead. Negativity?

    Is the world a better place because tens of thousands of people were killed? No? “No” is is by definition negative. Are the grieving thousands, including American families, aware the world is a better place?

    That prick Karl Rove thinks so. And if you think so …

  48. guy a tremblay, you took that entire paragraph to say……what exactly? how is eight years of out and out lying to the american public a positive thing? have you ever read even one positive thing on any of the hundreds of presidential “signing statements” bushco has slithered through the legal process behind the curtain, whist giving us the bread and circuses his handlers would allow. as far as “the security issues” go, they are vast and many. i can’t for the life of me think of one that was “well intended”. guy, you toss out those republicrat buzz-words, like ‘freedom’, and ‘negative mentality of the left’, and your fictitious straw-men, those ‘left wing people who think they have a monopoly on reason’, ad nauseum. what a load of cat crap! i tell ya what, as an independent, this recent administration has been a total eye-opener! 20 years ago, i would have told you that there was only about 100 grand difference between repubs and dems. i was WRONG. the repubs had a complete monopoly on power in this country for 6 years, and even with a small democrat majority ( although i don’t count lieberman as a dem), they managed to run the country into the ground, have to their credit the most successful terrorist attack on u.s. soil ( which they had been repeatedly warned about, yet took place under their watch), went into a two front war based on lies and false pretenses in which, so far hundreds of thousands of human beings ( mostly women, children and the elderly) have been killed or horribly mutilated, i could go on and on. they privatised our prison system, they gutted our science programs to fit their republicrat agenda! now, if you choose to turn your back on these events, or pretend they didn’t happen, or somehow they are obama’s/clinton’s fault and therefore somehow not your problem doesn’t make the bullshit any less stinky. if that doesn’t impress you, so be it. cuz it depresses hell outta me.

  49. Interview conducted, condensed, and edited by one person? I’d kind of like to know what was cut out.

    Not defending Rove’s actions, but really its no surprise that the one of the masterminds behind perhaps the most widely criticized administrations ever would be especially on guard speaking to the New York Times. I’m certain that an interview from a conservative news source would have gotten more cordial responses.

    Of course negative politics didn’t start (and won’t end) with Rove, but the fact that he’s so comfortable with it to the point of distilling it down to a science… I can’t help but think that he enjoys it. Its like a game to him. A game he decided to win no matter what. He’s walking away with gold medals while juiced up on steroids.

    That’s why Rove is creepy.

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