Author: Rove 'helped arrange' Swiftboat attacks on Kerry
Karl Rove may have left the Bush administration last summer, but he is never very far from the political spotlight, especially with former press secretary Scott McClellan due to testify today on Rove's role in the outing of Valerie Plame.
MSNBC's Morning Joe welcomed Paul Alexander, the author of Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove, to dig through Rove's legacy of scandal.
Alexander, whose book is based on interviews with many sources who have never before gone on the record, told Joe Scarborough that Rove was essentially fired by George W. Bush. "My sources tell me that the president had sort of reached the point where he wasn't willing to deal with the scandals and the controversies any more," Alexander stated. "He basically told him to leave."
Alexander explained further that "there were a number of issues that were still potential landmines," including the US Attorneys scandal, "leftover" Abramoff stuff, and the Plame affair.
Asked by Pat Buchanan whether Rove had "a hand in the Swiftboat thing," Alexander replied, "Sure, absolutely. He helped arrange the sort of message, arranged the funding. ... That was probably the key smear in the 2004 campaign."
Alexander claimed he was told 2004 Democratic presidential candidate and Vietnam War veteran Sen. John Kerry "suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder" and is "reluctant to talk about [it]," adding that Rove was almost certainly aware of it. "They attacked him in such a way that they knew he couldn't respond in an effective manner," Alexander asserted. Kerry, said Alexander, "went 30 days without responding. ... He didn't know what to say or what to do."
Although Buchanan and Scarborough expressed continuing respect for the electoral victories Rove achieved between 1994 and 2004, Alexander was far less impressed.
"Look at the legacy," Alexander stated. "He has a president with the lowest sustained approval rating since Nixon, or maybe lower than Nixon. He's putting John McCain, a highly electable candidate, in a position in the fall where he's going to have to do everything he's got to make himself electable, in part because the Bush legacy and the bad approval ratings are such a drain on the Republican ticket."
"Rove isn't responsible for all of Bush's failures," objected Buchanan. "Is he responsible for Katrina?"
"I think he's responsible for the incredibly slow lag-time, the response time that took place down there," Alexander answered. "I think he was playing politics behind the scenes."
A chapter from Alexander's book describing Hurricane Katrina and "how Karl Rove played politics while people drowned" is available at Salon
This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast June 20, 2008.