Sunday, June 14, 2009

Karl Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Rove?

Do the publishers of The Atlantic Monthly have no shame at all?
Ahmadinejad's bag of tricks is eerily like that of Karl Rove - the constant use of fear, the exploitation of religion, the demonization of liberals, the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin . . .
Really, Sully? I mean, really? WTF goes through someone's mind when they dream up an idiotic comparison between (a) Karl Rove, a Republican political strategist, and (b) Mahmoud Ahmadinejed, a Jew-hating genocidal maniac?

You might as well compare Rove to Charles Manson or Pol Pot. Please note that Sullivan's comparison involves no hypotheticals. It does not appear to be any sort of parodic humor, except unintentionally. He evidently means to suggest in all seriousness that Ahmadinejad and Rove are similar in some meaningful way.

Whatever you think of Karl Rove -- and I am certainly not his biggest fan -- there is something absurdly puerile in the suggestion that his political strategies involve "the deployment of Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin" (???).

WTF? How did Palin become involved in this? It's as if Sully is merely reacting at some kind of Rorshach level of subconsciousness.

More from William Jacobson and Donald Douglas. Via Memeorandum.

UPDATE: I went outside, smoked a cigarette, then took a shower and ate a pizza and now, an hour later, I'm still agog at the wretchedness of Sully's phrase, "Potemkin symbolism like Sarah Palin." Sully attributes this to Rove -- as if the governor of Alaska were self-evidently a signature "Rovian" tactic -- and then says it is part of a "bag of tricks is eerily like that" of Ahmadinejad. Or vice-versa, actually, but the idea of moral equivalence is there.

How? Why? I'm scratching my head. Given that hyperbolic extremity of ad hominem is sort of a speciality of mine, and that I am a three-time nominee for Sully's "Malkin Award," you might think I'd have the kind of insight necessary to reverse-engineer a thing like this.

This morning, I ignored Frank Rich's column, in which he cited Shep Smith as having "tied the far-right loners who had gotten their guns out in Wichita and Washington to the mounting fury of Obama haters." A flimsy theory of causality -- a connection asserted rather than demonstrated -- and I thought to myself, "Well, other people will tear that to shreds. No need for me to get exercised over it."

So now I'm wondering why this particular excursion by Sullivan made me react, whereas Rich's idiotic column did not. Perhaps it is that Sully boils his slander down to a single sentence so transparently false.

Or perhaps it is that Sully decided to throw in the name of Sarah Palin. Remember, my Donkey Cons co-author is now collaborating on Palin's autobiography. I actually covered Palin during the 2008 campaign. So I have a concept of Palin as being an actual human being, rather than some kind of "Potemkin symbolism."

WTF? I look at phrase, and try to figure out exactly what Sully means by it. "Potemkin villages" were <>the cruel propaganda hoax by which the Soviets sought to convince naive foreign visitors that everything was hunky-dory in the worker's socialist paradise.* In what sense does Sarah Palin deserve the descriptor "Potemkin"? What is the meaning of "Potemkin" in this context? And exactly how does Karl Rove fit into this?

It is a meaning, and a connection, that exists only in Andrew Sullivan's febrile imaginings. He evidently aims to denounce a certain style of Republican political rhetoric, and grasps randomly to pluck the names of two pet bogeys -- Rove and Palin -- out of thin air. To him, these people are indeed merely symbols, and it doesn't occur to him that there might be anything offenisve in mixing them together in a comparison to Mahoud Ahmadinejad.

If a supposedly serious political commentator like Sullivan doesn't hesitate to say such things, why are we shocked when a late-night comic jokes about A-Rod having sex with Palin's 14-year-old daughter?

UPDATE II by Smitty:
I think a better title would have been: "If Sarah Palin is a Karl Rove production, does that mean Andrew Sullivan is Trig?"

UPDATE III: * Struck the incorrect sentence about "Potemkin villages," a concept which several historical-minded commenters tell me dates to the time of Catherine the Great, and not the Soviet era.

UPDATE IV: And welcome Instapundit readers. Insty links Ann Althouse working over Sully on the Palin front. I think Althouse misses the basic dynamic of what Sullivan (and others) are doing. It's as simple as this: "Bush sucked. Therefore, we can say anything we want to about any Republican."

Go back to that Frank Rich column I ignored Sunday morning. Everybody in the news business gets e-mails from cranks. Shep Smith reaches a television viewership of a million or so, and gets crank e-mails, whiich he mentions in relation to the Holocaust Museum shooting. This, says Frank Rich, is the smoking gun proving that Republican "Obama haters" have blood on their hands.

Well, no, it doesn't. Here's a little clue for the clueless: The Holocaust Museum shooter used to send crazy letters and e-mails to The Washington Times when I worked there. He probably sent the same kind of crap to lots of publications. That's what crackpots do. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party.

In the current political climate, the liberal media have some kind of Bush = Nixon = Hitler formulation in their minds that justifies them saying anything they want about Republicans. And do you know who I blame for that? Republicans.

The GOP's media operations are third-rate. Cynthia Yockey is running a one-woman campaign against Letterman. Where are the Republican Party media operatives lending her assistance and support? Nowhere.

If the Republican Party even has media operatives, that is. They certainly don't have good ones. And when you run a bad media operation, you get bad media.

UPDATE V: Also linked by Nice Deb, who notes that CBS compared Ahmadinejad to Bush on June 8.

UPDATE VI: Wow. Linked twice by Insty on the same post. George Carlin called it "vuja de": When you get the feeling that nothing like this has ever happened before. Did I mention that Bill Kristol is wrong?


  1. Its ANDREW SULLIVAN. I thought we'd learned to not take him seriously anymore?

  2. Besides his mother, Palin is the only woman that gives Sully a hard-on...and it's not the healthy kind...more like the "it puts the lotion on the skin" kind of hard-on.

    Honestly, I wish someone would legalize gay'd make asshats like sully completely irrelevant.

  3. People are still paying that blowhard to slap his flippers against a keyboard?

  4. And can you even imagine Karl Rove or Sarah Palin being asked to speak at Columbia?

  5. Deep down, or not so deep down, Andrew Sullivan hates Sarah Palin because she is everything he wants to be but can't: a beautiful, intelligent and principled WOMAN.

  6. Muswell HillbillySun Jun 14, 10:20:00 PM

    The idiocy and odiousness of the comparison itself isn't even the worst part of that sentence.

    Note the direction of the comparison - that is, by engaging in all of these insidious behaviors, Ahmadinejad is like Rove, not the other way around. So, Rove is the original, gold standard of despotic, demagogic evil, and Ahmadinejad is just following in his footsteps.

  7. Do people still read Sullivan? Seriously? Haven't we finally arrived at the point where he can simply be ignored? Who exactly is he speaking for?
    So he used to be a well read conservative once. Big whoop. He has more flip-flops in him than an IHOP. How much LESS creditability does a commenter need to have before he is no longer considered a serious thinker. Which he clearly no longer is.

    2 cents..

  8. re: Rove or Palin being asked to speak at Columbia.....

    That's the funniest comment I'ver read all day. How appropriate.

  9. Uh, one correction. A Potemkin Village was a sham village constructed by minister Grigory Potyomkin to fool Empress katherine the Great in 1787. Nothing to do with the Soviets.

  10. Minor correction: Potemkin villages were supposedly created during the reign of Catherine the Great, and were not a Soviet invention. There's some dispute as to whether such villages were actually built even in Czarist days. Either way, it wasn't exactly a Soviet thang, even though I believe the Commies did do similar stuff.

  11. To really understand the Rove and Palin statements, you have to study South Park's episode "Cartoon Wars II". The manatees in Sullivan's head just keep going back to the Rove and Palin "idea balls" is all. It's *not his fault*!

  12. Sully has a mind?? WHO KNEW???

    Seems that it has been MIA for some time now.

  13. Sullivan is deranged. He is the crazy cousin who bounces in and out of the mental hospital and whom you try to ignore at family gatherings as he spouts his paranoid delusions. He tops the list of former or so-called conservatives like David Frum, David Brooks, and Kathleen Parker that we should ignore. He and Keith Olbermann should be stranded on Gilligan's Island, never to be rescued.

  14. You gotta admit that Rove is a sooper jeenyus. First he gets John McCain to pretend to ignore him, then he gets McCain to pick Palin as his running mate, all the time keeping it a total secret. Except from that darn Sully.

    He'd have gotten away with it if it wasn't for that darn Sully.

  15. 1: Sully is so deranged about Sarah and Karl that he's apparently forgotten that is was McCain who picked Palin as his VP, not Bush.

    2: Potemkin villages are from the Czars (Catherin the Great, IIRC). The purpose was to convince the Czar that everythign was great. Since if she knew the truth, she might try to force changes to improve the lives of the lower classes.

    Too bad Sully hasn't got the first clue of what he's talking about.

  16. I think Sully's using the Family Guy writing manatees again. This time the "Rove" "Potemkin" and "Palin" balls came out when it was time to write an Iran column.

  17. "Do the publishers of the Atlantic Monthly have no shame?"

    This is a trick question, right? After all, they kept Excitable Andy on the payroll all through his Great White Whale hunt on Trig Palin. Obviously they're deliberately paying him to bring on 'teh crazy'.

  18. Actually a Potemkin village refers to villages built by Grigory Potemkin, an adviser and lover of Catherine the Great. They were elaborate but primarily empty villages built in the Crimea. They were meant to impress foreign dignities who were traveling with Catherine to prove Russian rule over the Crimea better than the Ottomans for the downtrodden peasants. The Soviets just copied them.
    That said hacks like Andrew Sullivan play a role for the left much like Goebbels for the National Socialists or Pravda for Stalin Stalin. It is to convince others of things they know aren't true to be truth.

  19. Sullivan is I fear suffering from brain deterioration due to his HIV; sad ... sad.

  20. Seriously. AIDS dementia is a real syndrome, and Sully has AIDS.

  21. First thought: WHAT!?

    Second thought: I need to look up Potemkin village.

    Third thought: After getting a gloss of the meaning of the phrase, I understand Sullivan's mind. It's quite simple- he's conspiratorial lunatic. Apparently he thinks Palin is some type of Manchurian candidate who is designed to disarm the public. She'll tell you everything you want to hear, and while she looks independent she really is being controlled by some greater outside force-

    Wait. I've heard this before...

    But anyway, Sullivan is still a conspiracy nut.

  22. It's the "Red State Iran" crack that really got me. It ain't just Palin, Rove, and Cheney that trips this lunatic's hate-trigger -- it's all of us.

  23. "You might as well compare Rove to Charles Manson"

    Been done.

  24. I'm not sure the Republican Party actually has any kind of operatives.

    Here in Los Angeles, the GOP organization can't even organize a Tea Party. Well, OK, they said they were going to organize one, but then some elements in the county leadership thought that was too confrontational, so they said, well, let's call it a picnic celebration of America. Then they found out they couldn't get a permit for the venue... AFTER they announced the event.

    Fortunately, a local woman's group stepped in to act like professionals, so there WILL be a Tea Party in Thousand Oaks on July 4, but the local GOP leadership had nothing to do with it.

  25. Look at the good side. Sullivan was comparing Ahmadinejad to the DEVIL (as Sullivan sees things).

    This supports stopping the Iran mullahs at all costs.

    I suggest the slogan "If you wouldn't give Rove the bomb, how can you let Ahmadinejad have it?"


  26. "Bush sucked. Therefore, we can say anything we want to about any Republican."

    That says everything that needs to be said, everything that can be said, about liberal thinking.

    According to the Catherine the Great bio that I read, the Potempkin Villages were a real thing--but it was pure theatre and the audience knew it. Potempkin built them to amuse Catherine and her guests while they were on a trip, not to fool them. Which means virtually all "Potemkin Village" references are wrong.

    That's the least of Sully's sins. He is hatefully spitefully demented. A sad sad caricature of his once interesting self.

  27. Rove outwitted the hate-foaming liberals; Amandajine guns down unarmed protestors. There's your correlation, clear as a bell. The connection of General Potemkin's fake villages to Govenor Palin is not quite so clear. In fact,I don't get it at all.

  28. "Where are the Republican Party media operatives lending [Cynthia Yockey] assistance and support?"

    Can they? Isn't there a First Amendment aspect? To the extent that the Republican Party is involved with the Federal government (and it is), it can't try to punish someone who's just mouthing off, and whose only crime is being a creep.

    A professional hair-splitter might claim that the Federal government, or a part of it, can't jail or fine the offender, though it's perfectly OK to try to get him fired. But I don't buy it.

  29. A man whose politics are ultimately based on his genitalia is not someone I spend a lot of time thinking about

  30. The infuriating irony of it all is that Democrats consider it an article of faith that only Republicans use divisive rhetoric.

  31. Sullivan is a crass opportunist...nothing more.

    Back in the 90s he was writing anti-gay marriage columns in The Advocate, a gay magazine (or magazine for gays, whichever formulation works best.)

    When 9/11 came, public opinion swung to the conservative side of the fence and along came Power Glutes to jump on the bandwagon.

    When the public mood on Iraq soured, he couldn't say he was wrong, so he seized on Bush's opposition to gay marriage to "switch sides" once again.

    Now comes Obama with essentially the same exact position on gay marriage, and he stands behind him. Why? Because Obama is popular now. If and when Obama's popularity falls precipitously, you can bet that Glutes will find a reason to "switch sides" once again.

  32. Mr. McCain,

    I agree wholeheartedly. The Democrat party has been waging a propaganda campaign to demonize Conservatives going back to the mid-1970's. They basically took the old fashioned big city slicker prejudice against rural yokels and updated it by using the social movements of the 1960's as a line in the sand. Either you were an enlightened progressive who supported all those social movements, or you were a hateful redneck who wanted to bring back segregation, force women to stay home and be housewives, and exile homosexuals who come out of the closet to a desert island.

    The media, the entertainment industry and academia have all aided and abetted the Democrats in spreading this myth about Conservatives. The irony is that all three of these institutions have suffered for implementing these biases, while the Democrat party has benefitted from it. While liberal bias results in newspapers losing readership, Hollywood losing money on anti-war flops, and universities alienating alunmi, the Democrat party walks away smelling like a rose as it's able to portray itself as the party that represents mainstream popular culture.

    I have no clue why the Republican party does not engage in a PR operation that openly exposes and mocks the liberal bias of these cultural institutions and calls attention to this ongoing propaganda campaing to demonize Conservatives. Instead, they maintain a safe distance from Rush Limbaugh while making sure that they don't whine too much about media bias.

    It's a losing strategy and always has been.

  33. Certainly the Republican Party ought not to stifle Andrew Sullivan's brave dissent (or whatever it is now that his side is in power); but it wouldn't hurt for them to have a media strategy, would it?

  34. Sullivan was most likely referring to the great Eisenstein propaganda film "The Battleship Potemkin," but I don't know who he thinks Palin is in that formulation. Is she a mutinous but brave and patriotic sailor? One of the poor slaughtered inhabitants of Odessa? Or a heartless Czarist? If she is the latter, then she isn't a popular figure, so that doesn't work. If she is either of the other two, then she is a sympathetic figure with or without the propagandizing . . . I actually doubt Sully knows what he meant by his phrase.

    But, let's turn the tables on him. Surely, we all recall the ugly episode of Andrew Sullivan trolling the personal ads for "bareback sex," even while knowing he was HIV positive. He claims he was searching for fellow HIV+ men, but he probably wouldn't have turned away any bugchasers. So, let's just say Ahmadinejad is Sullivan, seeking to bareback a sick, desperate and/or deluded populace.

    Ugly, aint' it Andrew? Tough luck, tough guy.

  35. There's a reason the GOP is known as The Stupid Party.

  36. So yeah. Who cares of Allah hates you? Insty lurves you, man!


  37. I'd just like to point out, the boys over at are doing an AWESOME job of going 100% Al Sharpton on Letterman over this. I've not seen any content as persistent or on-target as theirs.

  38. Republican media operations? What Republican media operations? The Republicans' idea of effective public relations is to act like a punching bag and suck up the punishment.

    Remember the firing of the 9 prosecutors--a total non-event. The Dems made political hay out of this, even though the Bushies were well within their rights in firing them. But no-one responded to the attacks, and the
    congress made political hay out of it, held hearings, bloviated, and just had themselves a really good time.

  39. The problem, though, with deciding "No more Mr. Nice Party" is that you have to believe it'll work out - that you're either not going to alienate a big chunk of people by taking that route or that the people you'll alienate won't matter in the long run. Surely, we ought to do it on principle. But it's nerve-wracking.

    As (more or less, and as opposed to soi-disant "progressives") conservatives, that group based on what has actually (a) worked best to maintain the U.S.'s foundational principles and (b) actually worked over time, the historical truism that "uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" is never far from our minds: it's to our credit, theoretically, that we don't act like "the winners" even after we've won, but by acting like "the running-scared losers" we don't do much to impress those looking for a party to believe in.