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Karl’s Rove Secret: Bush’s "Architect" Launched Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign After Burying Gay Father

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The Washington Post recently reported that there is widespread panic amid the Republican establishment about next week’s midterm elections. But the paper found that there are two people whose confidence about Republicans prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat — President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove. Does Rove know something the rest of the country doesn’t? James Moore, co-author of the new book "The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power", helps us answer the question, and also talks about Rove’s secret: in July 2004, Karl Rove launched the national Republican campaign against gay marriage within days of burying his gay father. [includes rush transcript]

The Washington Post recently reported that there is widespread panic amid the Republican establishment about next week’s midterm elections. But the paper found that there are two people whose confidence about Republicans prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat.

They are President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove. Last week Rove told National Public Radio’s Robert Siegel about why he remains so optimistic.

Karl Rove: "Unlike the general public, I’m allowed to see the polls on the individual races and after all, this does come to individual contests between individual candidates... I’m looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math, I’m entitled to the math."

Karl Rove’s comments have led many to ask whether he knows something that the rest of the country doesn’t? To help answer that question we are joined by journalist James Moore in Austin Texas. He is co-author of the new book "The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power." He is also co-author of "Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential."

  • James Moore. Co-author of the new book "The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Rove told National Public Radio’s Robert Siegel about why he remains so optimistic.

KARL ROVE: Unlike the general public, I’m allowed to see the polls on the individual races, and, after all, this does come to individual contests between individual candidates... I’m looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math, I’m entitled to the math.

AMY GOODMAN: Karl Rove’s comments have led many to ask whether he knows something the rest of the country doesn’t. To help answer that question, we’re joined by journalist James Moore in Austin, Texas, co-author of the new book, The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power. He is also co-author of Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. James Moore, welcome to Democracy Now! What do you think Karl Rove is talking about?

JAMES MOORE: Well, there’s no doubt, Amy, and this has happened historically, and Karl knows it better than probably most of us, that within a national race like this, you can get into local districts and you can have a dynamic in a local election in a congressional district that drives an election and is completely disconnected from what’s going on nationally.

Now, the problem is that when Karl Rove says these kinds of things, it immediately spawns conspiracy theories and a number of other things related to electronic voting and voter suppression and any number of other things, that he has the confidence that they can turn an election and keep it, quote/unquote, "close enough to steal." Whether Karl Rove knows bad things that the rest of us don’t know is what’s causing a lot of people concern right now.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about how Karl Rove was integral to the creating the pretext for war, for the invasion. Can you talk about what he did around the issue of information, propaganda, misinformation?

JAMES MOORE: Well, what happened with Karl when the 9/11 attack occurred, Karl was in on the planning very early on, from before the President was elected. There was talk about Iraq and what must be done about Iraq, about the oil resources. Karl was in on that from the beginning, Amy. And when 9/11 happened, not just Karl Rove and the President and Donald Rumsfeld and the Vice President, Dick Cheney, they all saw an opportunity to take that event and frame it in a way that gave them the chance and the resources and the political and public support to do something that they had intended to do anyway, which was to somehow find a way and a reason to project United States military power and U.S. influence into the Middle East and to put us on the ground in the Middle East, where all of those critical oil resources are.

The President’s belief was and continue to be that, regardless of whether there were WMD or not, that there was a madman standing on top of what may be the world’s largest supply, the largest reserves of oil. It was Karl’s job to take a failed domestic presidency after 9/11 and create messages that would turn this president into a wartime president and would get the public to rally behind him. And that is what has sustained George W. Bush up until this point, until his presidency has shown signs of falling apart.

AMY GOODMAN: We were just talking about evangelicals with Chip Berlet, and a very strong voting bloc in the past. Now, you write in your book about how Karl Rove led the whole anti-gay marriage movement while protecting a family secret. What is that, James Moore?

JAMES MOORE: Well, his family secret is that Karl’s parents’ marriage fell apart his senior year in high school. Karl’s father had been a geologist throughout the Intermountain West and was gone a lot, and there’s some indication that Karl resented that fact. He was not a child of Louis Rove. His biological father and his mother had divorced, but the only father Karl had known was Louis Rove, and he had raised Karl from the time he was very young, and his brother Eric, and then Louis Rove had three daughters with Reba Rove.

But Karl’s senior year in high school, his father landed a big job with Getty Oil in Los Angeles, and he was to come home on Christmas Eve and tell the family about the big plans to move down to Los Angeles, and happily ever after, moving from Salt Lake City. But there was an argument that ensued behind closed doors, and Louis Rove left, and he was not there for Christmas Day, which also happens to be Karl’s birthday. And it turned out many years later that Louis — not many years later. Many years later I found out about it. But Louis Rove went to Los Angeles and decided to live openly as a gay man. He had been gay all of his life, but had repressed it and had tried to live as a heterosexual, but he decided to live the second half of his life openly as a gay man.

He retired to Palm Springs, California. And when he passed away, there was no — his friends, many retired gay men there who were close friends with Louis Rove, were unaware of any memorial service. Karl has taken exception with what my book says, that there was no public memorial service. Karl indicates I’m trying to claim that there was no service at all whatsoever. That’s not the case. However, it seems as though Karl was trying to suppress and continues to suppress the notion that and the fact that the man who raised him, a man who he has said he had a loving, open, honest relationship with, was, in fact, a gay man.

Karl buried his father Louie Rove in July of 2004. There was no public notice in the newspaper. And then he got on the campaign plane, and he went to eleven key swing states to help facilitate the anti-gay marriage amendment around this country, which drove turnout in the last election.

AMY GOODMAN: You have written a book about Karl Rove before: Bush’s Brain. And now, you have written this book a few years later. First of all, is that new information that you just revealed? And what else has — I mean, you have been investigating Karl Rove for years. What else have you uncovered in between the first and second book?

JAMES MOORE: Well, what I just spoke to you about, yes, it is indeed new information. And there are any number of things that have been revealed in the course of working on writing and reporting on Karl Rove. I first met him in 1978, and I recall after a television interview, coming out and telling my cameraman at the time — this was the first time I had met Karl then — I told the cameraman, I said, "Look, if this guy ever gets any real power, we’re all in trouble." And I think that that particular truth has been born out.

But there are a number of things that are quite disturbing. For instance, you were just talking briefly about religion, which is obviously an issue in every election, but since the Republicans have taken charge under George W. Bush, it’s been a hugely significant issue. And it turns out that Karl Rove, the man who is the architect behind evangelical voters and their turnout and a voter delivery system of the Christian right, is agnostic. He doesn’t have any deeply held faith.

What people do not realize about this man is that everything about him is political utility. When he looked at what was going on with the megachurches, and when he did the polling and he saw how gay marriage was animating the Christian right, Karl decided he was going to take these gigantic churches on the Christian right and to turn them into a gigantic vote delivery system. And that’s precisely what he has done. This is not a man who has deeply held religious faith. It’s a man who believes that faith can be used to drive voters to the polls. In fact, his own president, in an interview with — or an offhand unguarded moment aboard the press plane with my co-author, Wayne Slater, had referred to the Christian right and the fundamentalists north of Austin as "whackos." They hold these people in more disdain than these individuals are aware of.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, explain exactly what happened on the plane.

JAMES MOORE: Well, we were on the press plane, and we were traveling. And this was early in the campaign. And Wayne Slater was standing next to the future president of the United States, and Wayne was talking about some of the issues in the first campaign and what Wayne perceived to be the issues and what Wayne’s personal beliefs might be at that particular moment and how he arrived at those beliefs and what his analysis was. And Governor Bush just turned to him, and he said, "Well, you know why you think that way? That’s because you live up in Williamson County, north of Austin. You live up there around all those whackos." And that’s not the first time we had heard that reference privately.

AMY GOODMAN: James Moore, can you talk about Karl Rove’s relationship with Jack Abramoff and the latest casualty, Susan Ralston, the top Rove aide who had to resign?

JAMES MOORE: Well, the thing that people have to understand about Karl, Amy, is that he has been building the Republican Party from a voter and donor list that he started creating on IBM electronic tape back in 1978. And anytime he found people with money, he got their address, their phone number, and he put them on a log. And the tapes for — the donation lists for the Republican Party that are used by the RNC today grew from the germ that Karl created many, many years ago. People with money, he’s drawn to. He knows them. He knows their value and what they can do for him and the Republican Party.

So, the whole notion that a Jack Abramoff would come to Washington and be able to function and to move around that town and spread his money and his influence around without Karl Rove getting in front of him and saying, "Hey, wait a minute, pal. Here’s what you need to do, and here’s where your money needs to go," is nonsensical. I mean, nobody has been involved in the Republican Party with that money who hasn’t taken their traffic directions from Karl Rove. He had an ongoing working relationship with Jack Abramoff. It’s outlined — a couple of incidents, in our book, are outlined, in the way that they worked together. For instance, it’s obvious to anybody who has watched Karl and the President for years that they had an uncomfortable relationship with Tom DeLay, the former House Majority Leader, and they would use Abramoff to keep DeLay in line, and they would use Abramoff to make sure that the millions of dollars he had to donate were donated to the right candidates and the right places.

And Susan Ralston had worked for Jack Abramoff. She was his office manager and business manager and did just about everything he needed to be done. And the next thing we know, she’s in the White House working for Karl Rove. And there was so much scrutiny on this relationship, Karl was aware that some day somebody might look, so they conducted a lot of street corner meetings. They conducted a lot of meetings in restaurants or walking across the Capitol Lawn. I mean, this is the kind of thing that Karl did not want to be publicly known and to be on the White House visitor records, but it’s clear that there are many of them that were there, and I would suggest that for all of those that are on the White House logs, there’s probably four, five or six times more that occurred elsewhere that are not recorded.

AMY GOODMAN: You have been following Karl Rove for a long time. He knows you and Wayne Slater. What is his response to this book?

JAMES MOORE: Well, he’s angry about this book, as he was angry about Bush’s Brain. When Bush’s Brain first came out, he sent a ten-page single-spaced fax claiming that virtually everything in it was untrue. Unfortunately for Karl, the book has stood the test of time, and that’s a pleasing thing to anyone who is a reporter or a writer.

Now, the second book, he doesn’t call me, but he does call Wayne. And in the second book, he called, and originally he did what Karl always does: he will send word through a political operative in Texas, who is a friend of his, who will then approach Wayne and will make his complaint to Wayne. And then, Karl will eventually call Wayne and delineate what he believes are wrong, incorrect matters in the book.

And always, everything that he points out is —- we don’t write things that we don’t have corroborated, that we don’t have more than one source. And originally, he called and said, when he heard that we were writing about his relationship with his father Louis Rove, who was gay, his response was not to attack the facts of the matter, his response was to do what Karl Rove always does and attack one of the primary on-the-record sources. And he took an individual who was one of his father’s oldest and best friends of about twenty years, a man who described them as being closer than brothers and a man who was a vice president of a major corporation, and he began to try to humiliate that man’s background and suggest that he was nothing more than his housekeeper, when in fact he was a very successful man. This is the way Karl works, Amy. He attacks the messenger, rather than the message, to try to repudiate and discredit. And he has tried to dismiss this book as being a similar sort of thing, but -—

AMY GOODMAN: The New York Daily News said that he wanted sections excised, taken out?

JAMES MOORE: There’s no question. He made these kinds of demands to Wayne. He asked that the publisher, Random House Crown, have its attorneys call his attorney and begin to get things straightened out. But there’s nothing to straighten out. And my response was, if Karl wants to take on the book, have his attorney call the publisher and challenge it. But he didn’t do that, because he knows that would draw more attention to the book.

AMY GOODMAN: James Moore, in this last minute we have, this is your second book on Karl Rove. What have you learned at this point? What do you think is most significant before this mid-term election?

JAMES MOORE: I think, Amy, the thing that people need to know, as we go into next Tuesday, about Mr. Rove and the people that he leads in the Republican Party is that there is virtually nothing he will not do to continue to retain power and to win an election. Now, am I accusing Karl of being willing to do something illegal, unethical or immoral? He has done all of those things in the past. It would not be anything new. In my heart, I hope that — I want to believe that even Karl Rove, if he got to the point where he was doing something that was to violate the sanctity of our electoral process, he would back away from it, but I think everyone should be very, very concerned, and there should be attorneys in every one of the congressional districts in this country ready to file appeals, because I believe we’re going to see a very ugly Election Day with lost data discs, voter suppression, people turned away from the polls who shouldn’t be, and it’s going to be an ugly day, I’m afraid.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, the leaking of names, of stories that made him such a target of investigators. We have 30 seconds.

JAMES MOORE: Well, I think that this is the kind of thing that Karl does and the kind of thing that is used for political purpose over and over and over, and nobody does it better than he does, and will continue to do it in ways that will help him and the Republican Party.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, James Moore, co-author of The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power.

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