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RUSH: We welcome to the program Karl Rove, who is now the author of a brand-new book just out today: Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, and this book is close to 600 pages. Before we bring Mr. Rove on, there’s a lot of talk, ladies and gentlemen, about Obama’s health care bill, and I think the extremists on the right and the extremists on the left are trying to destroy what is essentially a very moderate attempt to bring health care coverage to people that do not have it. I think it’s a laudable thing and we still here are investigating to come to the exact correct interpretation of this. We’re not ideologues here. We do it straight down the middle. Tell me where I’m wrong, Mr. Rove.

KARL ROVE: My God, I can’t believe how dreadfully off base you are. This is a disaster.

RUSH: (laughing)

KARL ROVE: What has gone on? The North Pole is moving to the South Pole as we speak.

RUSH: (laughing.)

KARL ROVE: Day is turning into night, night into day. Dogs and cats sleeping together, oh, my God, what is happening?

RUSH: Just a fun lighthearted way to start off. How are you doing?

KARL ROVE: I’m doing fabulous. How about you, Rush?

RUSH: Fine. I saw Matt Lauer needed a seat belt today on the third installment of your Today interview when you guys got into discussing weapons of mass destruction. And, you know, Karl, the book is replete with examples of all the intelligence agencies all over the world, this is not news, this is what you all said at the time, there was a consensus. You couldn’t afford to take a chance that this guy wasn’t in Iraq planning to join the attacks on the United States. These guys just have a template belief that all this was made up. How did you deal with it with Lauer today?

KARL ROVE: I wanted to seize on that moment because he brought up the issue about — he quoted snarky Dana Milbank, who’s one of the least credible people writing for the Washington Post, which says a lot, and he, in a throw-away line said, Rove deals with weapons of mass destruction and so, you know, all my columns were wrong. Well, I spent an entire chapter in which I make the point that Democrats who said before the Iraq war resolution vote that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, after looking at the same intelligence that President Bush was looking at, and that President Clinton had looked at when he was in office, they came to the same conclusion as Bush, and yet later had the temerity to say Bush lied and I think — and I make the point in the book, chapter 21 — that this was a deliberate and cynical and hypocritical ploy by the Democrats launched on July 15th of 2003, by Ted Kennedy who made a speech, he was then echoed later in the day by Tom Daschle, on the 16th John Kerry and John Edwards both raise the issue, and Jane Harman, who is normally a sane individual, joins in, chimes in, saying Bush misled on intelligence. And I go person by person and talk about how Democrats echoed the president’s charge that Saddam had WMD, in some cases went far beyond what George Bush was willing to say, and yet later found themselves, for politics, trying to say that Bush lied.

RUSH: The Democrats were saying the identical things that you all were saying, same warnings back in 1998 —


RUSH: — when Bill Clinton was leading this charge.

KARL ROVE: Well, and, look, even at the time of the debate in 2002, Algore makes a speech out in California saying, quote: ‘Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power. We know Saddam has stored away secret supplies of biological weapons and chemical weapons throughout his country,’ end quote. That’s what he said at the time of the debate. I mean Ted Kennedy voted against the war resolution and two days later gives a speech in which he says, ‘Iraq has WMD, I admit it’s a danger, but there are ways short of war that we can deal with the situation.’ A hundred and ten Democrats vote for the war resolution. Sixty-seven of them stand up on the floor of the House or Senate and say, ‘Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.’ Among them were Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Bob Graham, you know, Senator Rockefeller, Congresswoman Harman, and for these people then to stand up, you know, Robert Byrd, Barbara Boxer, Dick Gephardt, Henry Waxman, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, for these people now to stand up and say, ‘Bush lied,’ is the height of cynicism and hypocrisy. And of course the mainstream media wouldn’t call them on it. I was at a debate last Saturday in Arizona, and Howard Dean in response to a question literally said, ‘I believe that Bush lied,’ and I said, ‘You know, Howard, to be consistent then you’ve gotta say something about all these Democrats who repeated what Bush said.’ And you know what he told me? In front of 3,000 people at Arizona State University, he said they did it because Bush told them that they had WMD, they didn’t come to their own independent conclusion. He basically said Bush told these guys and they’re all duped by Bush.

RUSH: Now, Karl, you admit in this book that one of the tactical errors was not replying to this and other lies, distortions, and even criticism. Why?

KARL ROVE: Well, it —

RUSH: At the time I mean.

KARL ROVE: Why at the time. Well, you know, each one was different. Look, I should have, in the middle of 2003, you know, taken and sounded the warning bell. But I didn’t. I was preoccupied with the coming campaign and the pressure of the West Wing and I didn’t see how damaging it was. I did raise the issue and we talked about it, but there were a number of reasons for our inaction. One was people would say, ‘Well, it’s beneath the dignity of the president to refute such outlandish charges. If you wrestle with pigs, you get muddy.’ And then another one was it would look defensive, you know, we don’t want to relitigate the past, we need to focus on winning the war, that will resolve it, not on this argument which nobody accepts. And the third one, frankly, was people were just worn down by the Iraq war debate. I mean, the fact that there weren’t stockpiles was a blow, and some White House aides simply wanted to avoid the topic and hope that if we didn’t say anything it would evaporate, and I should have said at the time, this is my responsibility, I should have said, you know what, this is not going to go away and this is going to be corrosive and this is worthy of the president of the United States responding in a powerful venue and the rest of us all hands on deck need to combat this because this is going to be corrosive. And what was amazing was, I knew, I remembered — you know, obviously this was in my consciousness when I sat down to write the book about this being damaging. But when I got into it and sort of went back and reconstructed how it happened, you can’t have Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, John Edwards, and Jane Harman all within the space of two days say the same thing without there having been some coordination, and I suspect some polling and focus groups to say this is the line of attack that we can use against Bush for political purposes.

RUSH: Exactly. It was totally political, it was totally ideological. My opinion here, but I think they still hadn’t gotten over what they thought was an election being stolen in 2000, and I think this was a coordinated effort to discredit. It was the first time in my life, Karl, I’m 59 years old, and I’m not naive enough to think this has never happened before, but in my lifetime it was the first time during Iraq and I think a lot of other things that similar approaches were tried by the Democrats where they actually sought the defeat of the United States militarily for their own political gain. They didn’t want to saddle themselves with it, they would have been happy to hang it around your neck and the president’s and so forth, but I’d never seen this.


RUSH: I’d always heard politics ends at the water’s edge but this was new to me.

KARL ROVE: And look, what amazed me, I think you’re absolutely right, and what amazed me about this particular instance was that they were saying, in essence, that the president of the United States knowingly lied the country into war and that he had at the heart of a giant conspiracy to mislead them. And they knew better. I mean Ted Kennedy, who was the first to launch this, God bless his soul, God rest his soul, you know, it was a lie. And for him to stand up there and say as he did that President Bush lied by saying that Iraq had WMD, when he himself had said the same thing, if Bush lied, he lied as well. I devote an entire chapter to this theme, I titled it: ‘What Bipartisanship?’ And in there I sort of pull back the curtain and show some instances that people are completely unaware of, of where the Democrats, you know, as you say, they’d never gotten over the 2000 election and for the next seven or eight years, they acted, many of them, in an inappropriate way ’cause they could never get past the first victory of Bush.

RUSH: Talking to Karl Rove here, folks, his new book is Courage and Consequence, out today, My Life As a Conservative in the Fight. This Ted Kennedy business, God rest his soul, as you say, this was after you had magnanimously, the president had magnanimously brought him in to join you in working on education legislation.

KARL ROVE: Yes. And, look, to me, Ted Kennedy is a very interesting personality because on the one hand he was capable of inspiring great loyalty among his staff and of working tirelessly. You know, look, I didn’t like his politics, but I sure did like the challenge of working around him and with him, because if he came to a meeting, you better have done your homework because he would have done his. You know, he was absolutely ready to —

RUSH: Now many of us out here watching all this hear you say this, and, okay, you’re trying to work with these guys while we see it as they’re trying to destroy you, and us, in the process.

KARL ROVE: Yeah, but, look, a president has got to do some of this, he’s gotta put aside some of this stuff in order to sort of move forward. You can’t take this personally. A president has gotta say, ‘Look, I understand they’re doing politics but I’ve gotta try and find a way to move the country forward.’ You just can’t go into permanent open warfare, but I gotta tell you, Ted Kennedy — and again, I admire the man, but my point is is that I was really surprised when Alito, the second one of our Supreme Court nominations, when Ted Kennedy got up and harangued him for 20 or 25 minutes in the Senate committee, saying he was prejudiced against average Americans, sexist, corrupt, and racist, I was taken aback. You know, what he did to Bob Bork, Judge Bork, a respected and distinguished American, was beyond the pale —

RUSH: So why were you surprised —

KARL ROVE: — what he tried to do with Sam Alito, it was sort of hard to connect these two guys, I mean Ted Kennedy, a guy that would be reasonable and rational and try and work with you on one matter and then go out and say things that he had to know in his heart of hearts were fundamentally untrue.

RUSH: So he did it once with Bork, why were you shocked at Alito?

KARL ROVE: Because, look, you know, Bork was — I read the transcripts last year of the two speeches. The Bork speech is a complete mischaracterization of Bork’s political views.

RUSH: Yeah.

KARL ROVE: The Alito is a complete distortion of Alito’s personal history and personal views. I mean he literally calls him all but racist, sexist, corrupt, I mean he explicitly says that he’s against average Americans. Bork was bad enough where he took the decisions of Bork and interpreted their consequences for policy outcomes. That was bad. That was despicable. But what he did against Alito was so far worse in many ways because he was making assumptions about the personal beliefs of essentially a very decent and very honorable man who had sacrificed much for our country by serving on the judiciary rather than getting a big paycheck at some law firm, he’s working as a federal judge and serving our country with great distinction. And to have his character savaged by a man who, you know, was sitting across the table from him and judging him as sexist, corrupt, and racist and saying he was against average Americans. It did take me aback.

RUSH: We’re talking to Karl Rove about his new book. We gotta take a break. We’ll be back and continue after this.


RUSH: It’s Rush Limbaugh, and we’re talking to Karl Rove. His new book is Courage and Consequence: My Life As a Conservative in the Fight. The book is out today. Karl, one of my favorite questions to ask people who get as close to power as you were… I mean, you were there for eight years and many years prior to that with President Bush. What most surprised you about the White House, the operation there, working for the president and the whole process of, quote, unquote, ‘running the country and the world.’ How do you go in there and not pinch yourself and say, ‘Gee, look at where I am,’ and roll up the sleeves and really take it seriously for what you’re doing?

KARL ROVE: Well, it was funny. Andy Card, who was Bush’s first chief of staff and former secretary of transportation under Bush 41 and had served in the Reagan White House, made the point when each of the senior members of the White House staff came aboard. He said, ‘If there’s ever a day when you don’t feel a special feeling when you come in the gate to work here, then it’s time for you to go,’ and he was right. Because as long as you recognize that it really is an extraordinarily special place — that you are not it but part of it, that you are not history but your passing through history — then you can come into the place with a sense of service and obligation and commitment and dedication. And when you lose that feeling, it’s time for you to go. And, you know, there was not a day that I worked at the White House where I didn’t feel honored to be able to walk in the gate. There was not a day that I wasn’t aware of the extraordinary sacrifices that not just my senior staff colleagues made.

I mean, I had a senior staff colleague who literally sat down and figured out — he had adult children getting ready to go to college or in college and he sat down and figured out — how long his savings and his lines of credit would allow him to serve and he served ’til that day and then left. You know, I saw Steve Friedman, who came into service the National Economic Council advisor who literally when he came into the White House, the White House ethics lawyer said, ‘You will have unwind some complicated hedge fund positions literally overnight and you will lose tens of millions of dollars,’ and he said, ‘Where do I sign?’ And then I saw people like… You know, I was honored to speak at the retirement ceremonies of the chiefs of the White House mess. One of them really deeply moved me. These are guys who served their entire Navy careers feeding other swabs, and they were honored to end their careers as the chiefs of the Navy mess.

And one of them was a Filipino American who joined the Navy as a Filipino and became an American citizen, and the greatest thing in his life was the day that he took the oath as a US citizen. And, you know, you serve around those kind of people: The guys in the uniform division of the Secret Service, the snipers who sit atop the roof at the White House in all kinds of weather scanning the horizon for threats; the White House operators. One of the most moving things to me was I made a friend in the White House who came to the White House as a young usher when John F. Kennedy was president, when Washington was a segregated town and he’s an African-American. Can you imagine what it’s like for him to have served John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bush 41, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush 43, and now to be at the White House and nearing retirement with an African-American as president when this was a man who came to Washington when it was still segregated. People like him weren’t expected to vote and participate, and what history he has seen and what service, selfless service he’s given to our country.

RUSH: I want to ask about President Bush here. I’ve mentioned this to you before, and I’ve also mentioned this to people who have called me on the radio during this program, asking about President Bush’s mannerisms on television. You and I both know, and everybody who knows him personally knows, when you’re with him personally and there’s no TV cameras around, he is a dynamo.


RUSH: And he never stutters and he is confident, almost cocky when talking about things, and he knows a lot about it. Why did we never see that man on TV, or very rarely?

KARL ROVE: You know, I don’t know. Because, you’re right. I mean, you get him in… I’ve had this experience a lot in the last year and a half as he’s gone out on the speaking tour and I’ve run into people who said, ‘Oh, gosh. I saw your old boss,’ at the whatever meeting in Toronto or he came to the convention of whatever, ‘and boy, I was blown away. Where was that guy during the last eight years?’ And, look, President Bush has a fluency and a familiarity with the issues in a winning manner and an extraordinary recall, and we ill-served him by not putting him out in ways and places where that would shine like it does naturally. As you know he’s got a winning personal manner about him, and he remembers every name and every detail, and enjoys being around people, and yet there’s just something about the way that we allowed him to be put on television or put in front of the public that too often made him look stilted and restrained and, you know, not as effective as he could be. But in a White House, any president is subject to such public attention that you’re not going to get everything right, and even if you identify things that are wrong, you’re not going to be able to get everything changed. That was one that I wish we had done a better job of focusing on helping him be himself.

RUSH: I have a couple of minutes here and I know you’re not going to be able to explain everything here but I want to go back. You were shocked that Ted Kennedy would go after Alito. None of us really were. Were you shocked when they came after you on the Valerie Plame stuff? I mean, at what point did you realize that this was not just the normal ebb and flow of Democrats and Republicans sharing power, that they were out to destroy you and everybody in the administration?

KARL ROVE: Well, I knew that all along, but what got me was that the media were so spun up when they thought it was me and then they were so unspun up when they figured out it wasn’t me. I mean, when they thought that I had outed Valerie Plame and that the prosecutor was looking at me for that, they were spun up. I mean, for months and months and months people surrounding the house on weekends and, you know, film crews out front. I had demonstrators protest in front of the house/ People with bullhorns yelling things to my son — and, you know, I don’t just mean periodically. I mean all the time when they thought it was me, and what was ironic was (and people read this in the book) is right from the get-go, it was clear I had no vulnerability on the question of releasing Valerie Plame’s name, because I didn’t. I said to Bob Novak when he told me what he had heard from Richard Armitage (though I didn’t know it was Richard Armitage at the time). My simple response was to say, ‘I’ve heard that, too.’ So that right from the get-go it was clear from the FBI and then after the appointment of the special prosecutor that I had no vulnerability on this fundamental question. And readers will be shocked to find out in the book what it was after four appearances before the grand jury when Patrick Fitzgerald is on the eve of indicting me and has a meeting with my lawyer —

RUSH: Hold that thought right there.

KARL ROVE: You bet.

RUSH: A great place to stop as we take an obscene profit time-out.

KARL ROVE: All right.

RUSH: Be right back.


RUSH: Back with Karl Rove. He has a new book today. It’s Courage and Consequence: My Life As a Conservative in the Fight. You made four appearances before the grand jury, Patrick Fitzgerald is on the eve of indicting you, and everybody is breathlessly awaiting that very fact. It didn’t happen.

KARL ROVE: It didn’t happen, but on October 20th of 2005 my lawyer (Bob Luskin of Patton Boggs) met with Fitzgerald at his office in Chicago and finally, after sort of circling around with it, Fitzgerald laid onto the table the issue that he was concerned about — which boggles my mind what it was, it was so minor and so out on the fringes of all of this, it was unbelievable — and when my lawyer gave him the answer to the question that he had, literally Fitzgerald says, ‘You’ve rocked my world,’ and literally a day or two later lets my attorney know that no action would be taken at that point. Six months later — after having received additional information that was in support of what had been told to him on that day (he lets me dangle for six months) he says, in essence: ‘This is done and we’re over.’ But people will be shocked to read what all of this was about. It was not about Valerie Plame, it was not about Joe Wilson, it was about something completely else, and if he ever asked me about it during my four appearances in the grand jury — I ended up making five. In the final one, the fifth appearance before the grand jury in April of 2006, he asked me a couple of questions about this issue, and resolved it, and let me go. But people will be shocked when they read this story.

RUSH: Now, this is interesting. You say it’s not about Plame, it’s not about Wilson. But all this time he knew that Armitage was the leaker.

KARL ROVE: Exactly.

RUSH: He knew!

KARL ROVE: He knew that Armitage was the leaker –and, look, he’d known right from the get-go what I had said to Bob Novak and apparently he also had confirmation of it from Novak. Right from the beginning, for two years, they said, ‘Rove is not a target. He’s merely a witness,’ but then two years in they began to develop a weird theory about something far out on the edges of all this — which people can read about in the book — and it was really amazing.

RUSH: But —

KARL ROVE: In August of 2006, it’s finally revealed that Richard Armitage was the person who sat down with Bob Novak and said, ‘Valerie Plame is Joe Wilson’s wife. She works at the CIA and she sent him to Africa,’ and when that happened, the Washington Post ran an exculpatory editorial saying, ‘Well, I guess this really didn’t amount to much because everybody knows Richard Armitage is not a political gunslinger and he didn’t do this for any bad reason.’ I mean, all these reporters who camped out on my front doorstep… There was an NBC reporter who was on with Don Imus when Imus was telling prison rape jokes about me, when they thought I was going to go to jail, and when Richard Armitage was relieved to be the source, I don’t remember her, you know, chortling along to any prison rape jokes told about him.

RUSH: Well —

KARL ROVE: I mean, ‘This is official Washington. Rove is conservative, Rove is defiantly conservative, and Richard Armitage is part of the Washington, DC, establishment. So when we think it’s Rove, ‘Let’s go get that SOB!’ and when we find out it’s Armitage, ‘Oh, never mind. Don’t worry about it.”

RUSH: Well, that’s the point, but Scooter Libby is the guy that paid the price for this, and Armitage knew all along that Libby hadn’t done anything, and so did General Powell. They both knew all along that Libby hadn’t done anything here and Libby, of course, was convicted for lying or some such thing.

KARL ROVE: Yes, five charges. It started with five.

RUSH: How do you guys have a civil relationship with either Powell or Armitage going forward?

KARL ROVE: Well, you know, it’s funny. I talk about it in the book, and Powell has a weird sense of humor at it. At a dinner in 2007, I was walking down the aisle, and there was Powell — who, you know, sort of gregariously booming — said, ‘I got somebody here I want you to meet,’ and he grabbed my hand and held me fast and turned, and behind him was Richard Armitage, and he made the two of us shake hands, which I was gamely willing to do. Armitage didn’t look too comfortable with it. Look, I don’t know what Secretary Powell knew and when he knew it, but I do know that in August and September of 2003, while the White House knew of my contact with Robert Novak, they did not know of Richard Armitage’s contact until August of 2007. The State Department, whenever they found out about Armitage’s contact with Novak, did not tell the White House. In fact, the State Department counsel, Will Taft IV, told the White House they had information regarding the incident but were going to share with Justice Department only and not the White House. This was at a point when the president was saying, ‘I want to know who told Bob Novak ‘Valerie Plame.”

RUSH: Well, this leads to another subject matter that I want to get into as we move into the present day and that is you’re a huge expert on presidential history. I’ve shared with some friends of mine, occasionally on this program, my overwhelming appreciation and admiration for your knowledge of the presidency. I’ve sat in Karl’s office at the White House for hours listening to the history of the presidency, and William McKinley is one of Karl’s favorites. I want to ask you: Aside from the Civil War, and the days of the founding, in the modern era has there ever been a time where things were so partisan as they are today?

KARL ROVE: (sigh) You know, they’ve been episodically partisan but what gets me about this one is that the president of the United States is so tone deaf and so intent upon conducting himself in a manner in which he basically is disrespecting his political opposition. He’s not taking them into account. President Obama has made three fundamental mistakes. The first one is that he ran as a centrist and he’s governing as an extreme liberal or a social Democrat. The second is that he went to great pains to paint himself as an advocate of postpartisanship or bipartisanship and he made no attempt to do so. I was shocked. Last March 5th he held a meeting at the White House with Republicans and Democrats to kick off a discussion of health care. His next bipartisan meeting at the White House was February 25th of this year. When John Boehner said that he had not had a substantive meeting at the White House on any subject for months and had not heard from the White House chief of staff in months, it was shocking to me, ’cause it basically said: Obama is outsourcing the writing of legislation and the legislative process to two of the most hyper-partisans in Washington, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. And, look, the president of the United States — regardless of the Congress being Republican or Democrat — needs to be involved in setting the right tone in Congress. And if what you basically say is, ‘I don’t care what you do up there on the Hill, just let me be able to check off cap and trade and health care and, blah, blah, and, blah, blah. You just get it done,’ he’s giving rise to the worse instincts of the hyper-partisans who run the Democratic caucus in the House and Senate, and that is an abrogation of leadership.

RUSH: Well, I know that bipartisanship is a big thing with people that work inside the Beltway. Those of us outside it with the pitchforks think bipartisanship is a Democrat-designed trick to get us to sacrifice and compromise away our core beliefs and go along with theirs so that there is this appearance of comity and so forth. Will you tell me how bipartisanship, in theory in your world, works?

KARL ROVE: Well, look, it is useful for you to be able to find areas of agreement because there are some things. Look, in the 2005 energy bill, for example — which passed with huge bipartisan votes — we removed the obstacles to the expansion of the nuclear power industry in America, which is really important for the future of our country. And when we came into office there are zero applications for nuclear power plants, as there had been for the last nearly 30 years. When we left office there were 22 applications for new power plants at the NRC. We got it by being work to say, ‘Okay, look, let us find ways. Don’t we all agree we need more nuclear power? Don’t we all agree that we need to have clear rules and greater ability for the country to drill off of its coasts? Let’s find ways to move those things forward,’ and so there are ways to do it.

Granted if you have a president, that president will dominate that process and bend it more his way rather than the other way. But nonetheless there are things over which we can broadly agree. This guy, though, is so ideological — this guy is so aloof from the process, this guy is so willing to outsource the writing of legislation to Reid and Pelosi — that for him ‘bipartisan’ means, ‘We won the last election. Do everything we want to do and don’t bother talking to me and don’t expect me to listen,’ and that’s wrong. That’s not the way it works. The Founders did not mean the system to work that way. They wanted us to try and find ways, imperfectly, to come together on areas of agreement where we could so that the country could sustain itself in the times when we could not agree. We’re not going to get Barney Frank to vote for a tax cut. We’re not going to get Bernie Sanders to vote for the Patriot Act. We’re not going to get Barbara Lee to be supportive of a strong national defense. We’re not going to get Maxine Waters to be supportive of limited government. You can’t recognize that.

RUSH: Okay. Right. Right, right, right. SO why do you care about working with those people? Why don’t we just go out and defeat ’em?

KARL ROVE: First of all some of them, they come from comfortable districts where they’re not going to be defeated, but we ought to find the people with whom we can find common cause. And let me give you an example. There were some very important pension reforms that were written by Ben Cardin and Rob Portman when they were together in the House and serving on the House Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee. These things will have far-ranging ramifications for the ability of private individuals to have a secure retirement that is funded by them and their company, rather than being dependent upon government.

RUSH: Well, that’s if the company’s in existence after Obama gets finished.

KARL ROVE: Well, that’s right. That’s right. Well, that’s another question. But the point is these two guys got together and said, ‘Here are some sensible things that we as a Republican, we as a Democrat can find agreement on. They’re common sense and good for the country.’

RUSH: Karl Rove is with us. We gotta take a brief time-out. Final segment with him coming up right after this. Don’t go away.


RUSH: Karl Rove on the radio on the EIB Network, and his new book, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. The big question right now, of course, is the health care bill, the reconciliation and all of this, the House basically passing the Senate bill as is. Frankly, I don’t think there’s going to be reconciliation; I don’t think there’s time. I think if the House does pass the Senate bill, Obama’s going to sign it before anybody knows what’s happened. But is he going to get the votes in the House for it?

KARL ROVE: I’m trying to write my column this Thursday about it in the Wall Street Journal, so I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure it out. I’d have to say at the end of the day I don’t think it happens, but we shouldn’t underestimate the powers of Nancy Pelosi. She can persuade, she can cajole, she can argue, she can threaten.

RUSH: And she’s got a lot of unspent stimulus money to pass around.

KARL ROVE: Yeah. Well, and, look, she’s got a lot of things that she can tell people we’ll take care of you. But, on the other hand, she has a heavy lift because, at the end of the day, her argument is, if you’ve got a problem with this bill, we can take care of it in reconciliation. Well, what happens if in the Senate they somehow pass it through the House, they get the pro-lifers to say, you know, I’ll vote for a pro-abortion bill; they get the deficit hawks to vote for a bill that is broken and is going to cause huge deficits; they get the liberals who want more of a public option, and they say we’ll fix it for you in the Senate reconciliation. And what happens if the Senate Republicans can keep them from fixing things in Senate reconciliation? And so, you know, they don’t get the pro-life provision or they don’t get all the stinky stuff taken out, or they don’t get all of the bribes removed and they don’t get, you know, where the taxes and the benefit cuts, you know, equal the cost of the bill for the first ten years, what happens with all this stuff?

RUSH: This is fundamental. I mean this is transforming the country in ways it’s never been transformed —

KARL ROVE: Our country will be fundamentally different in dangerous ways if this bill passes.

RUSH: You’ve met Obama, how many times?

KARL ROVE: A lot. We actually shared common friends, so when he got elected to the Senate whenever he’d come to the White House we’d sort of hang around and talk to each other and chitchat about our mutual friends. And look, he’s got a lot of personal charm, he’s very bright, he’s incredibly intelligent. He also doesn’t think he needs to apply himself. In these White House meetings when the president would go around the table, Senator Obama would be probably the least useful comment in the room, generally something along the lines of, ‘I’m honored to be here, I’ve listened with interest to what my colleagues have said, it’s an important issue, and I’m going to take what I learned here today home and think about it a lot.’ I mean that was basically, you know, he’d dress it up as he can, but he was one of the least impressive legislators I saw there.

RUSH: Well, now, Karl, you said that he’s very intelligent, and I get caught up in all this and how do we define intelligent, how do we define smart, because in my view and I’m not asking you to concur with this, I think he’s wrong about everything, I think he’s dangerously wrong, I don’t subscribe to this notion he’s very smart. I think he’s been ill-educated, I think he’s been ill-mentored, and I think he poses a great danger, and whether he’s smart IQ-wise doesn’t matter. I think he’s dead wrong on all of this, and a lot of people do. There’s a Democracy ‘Corpse,’ in his word, poll out today from Greenberg and Carville saying if he’s going to have any success with foreign policy he’s going to have to cowboy it up like Bush did.


RUSH: How does that make you feel?

KARL ROVE: Well, look I think he’s very intelligent. I don’t think he’s right. I’m with you, I think his worldview is wrong, I think he is very liberal, I think he plays like he’s a centrist, and I thought during the campaign, frankly, that he was being so emphatic about his centrism that we would expect to see more of it, and we haven’t. But, look, he is a very bright individual who’s capable of making a compelling argument as he did in the 2008 campaign, some of it is artifice, some of it is, frankly, not true. It’s well reasoned, some of it is emotional and appealing, but at the heart of it is somebody who is fundamentally trying to portray himself as something that he’s not. I talk about this in the book, because in 2007, an aide of mine came in and said, ‘Do you know that you’re in Barack Obama’s book?’ I said, ‘Really, Audacity of Hope, I’m in there?’ He said, ‘Yeah, saying quote: ‘We are a Christian nation,” end quote, and he has it in quotes with my name attached to it. Now, look I’ve never said any such thing. It’s one thing to say we’re based on the Judeo-Christian ethic or draw from the Judeo-Christian ethic, that we have enshrined the free expression of religion, that we have no state establishment of a state church, but you can’t say we’re a Christian nation ’cause that leaves out the Jews and the Buddhist and the Sikhs and the nonbelievers, all of whom under our Constitution are as good an American as anybody else. So, you know, but he easily said that about me, and I confronted him about it. And he had no good explanation of why he would attribute to me something that I didn’t say. He then went on in his book to accuse me of being a 1960s radical. And as I say in my book, isn’t that rich? I don’t remember trying to bomb a government office building —

RUSH: Yeah.

KARL ROVE: — like his buddy Bill Ayers or saying God damn America like the pastor in whose pews he sat for 20 years or having said I was proud of my country for the first time at the age of 40 like his wife. And for him — I mean here’s a guy who positions himself as the advocate of a new kind of politics and who engages in the worst kind of old-fashioned political slurs, and it’s not that, you know, look, I’m used to that kind of stuff, but it really is hypocritical for somebody to say, I am better and newer and —

RUSH: Karl —

KARL ROVE: — fresher and different and then go do that kind of stuff.

RUSH: — he’s just Ted Kennedy Jr.

KARL ROVE: Yeah, well —

RUSH: As they said, he’s the last surviving Kennedy brother. They’re no different, they’re all the same, they’re all Ted Kennedy.

KARL ROVE: You know, somebody the other day showed me a piece of footage from 2006 in which he said Karl Rove — he invoked my name in 2007, 2008, several hundred times generally to say we’re going to end Karl Rove-style politics.

RUSH: Yeah, but that’s because they had drummed up so much hatred for you guys it was a talking point.

KARL ROVE: It’s convenient, it’s convenient for him.

RUSH: Right.

KARL ROVE: But that’s not who he professed to be, was it? I saw this clip in which he said, quote, ‘Karl Rove does not believe in government,’ end quote. This was at the time when I was serving in government. I mean to accuse me of being —

RUSH: Karl —

KARL ROVE: — an anarchist.

RUSH: — I gotta go. I’m at one of the hard breaks. It’s the only one of the hour that we have. Thank you so much. Talk to you soon.

KARL ROVE: Thank you, Rush.

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