Thursday, July 14, 2005

Patriot Games

Is the Karl Rove-A-Thon still running? After reading 6,754 articles and blogposts about his latest vile behavior, I had to check out and let others do the squawking. Not that there's nothing to bitch about, mind you -- Rove's a filthy political beast and richly deserves every single blow he receives (whether it registers with him or not is another issue). The mere sight of the man reminds one of the sheer depravity of American corporate rule, that porcine white face squinting with the coarsest self-regard. So yeah, Rove should be stripped to his briefs and run out of DC, pelted with garbage as he retreats.

That's the humanitarian response. Others may have harsher ideas.

Still, even if Rove is forced to resign or is otherwise punished, the criminal state keeps moving. The machine is bigger than transitory figures like Rove who spent his entire adult life trying, and mostly succeeding, to harness it for his personal political gain. Which is why I don't get all excited about feeding frenzies like this one -- Rove could be anybody up for demonization. He's merely the latest political celeb who's been caught pushing his advantage. Nothing new, and he won't be the last. Some libs, like the must-read Billmon, dream of Rove being charged with treason and/or espionage. As highly entertaining as that would be, I wouldn't plan the "Fry Rove" parties just yet.

Like Billmon, many of the libs I've read these past few days are throwing around terms like "treason" and "traitor" to describe Rove's apparent outing of Valerie Plame. I understand this on one level -- piss off the uber-patriots who've rendered unto Karl what is Karl's by throwing the "anti-American" slander back at them. It's not the most sophisticated polemical tactic, but it does hold some short-term charm: force the Repubs to look in the mirror, then smash the mirror over their heads. I can see the attraction in that.

But, ultimately, where does this tactic take us? In the grand scheme, Rove is nobody. Yes, he'll rake in serious bucks on the lecture circuit when not privately advising future reactionaries running for office. Rove's made the system work for him. But get rid of Rove, and what remains? That's right, kids -- this corrupt, violent, hypocritical system! As I type, little Karl Roves are practicing their moves, anticipating the day when they too can push arrogant dimwits into higher office. And they'll probably succeed. Why? Again, this system, this arrangement, nurtures and rewards political animals like them. Banishing Rove won't dissuade them; they'll see it as another opening. American corporate politics is a high-risk racket. This is well-understood by those looking to exploit it. Indeed, it's part of the thrill.

Stating that Rove is a "traitor," while momentarily bracing, is in the end pointless. What is Rove a traitor to -- the American corporate state? Hardly. He epitomizes the status quo. Has he then undercut our dear American values? Depends on what "values" you're referring to. If you mean Mom & Dad & Apple Pie, then I guess the answer is yes. But again, Rove has no use for such quaint concepts of Americana, save for election-year imagery and propaganda. The "America" romanticized by flag-waving liberals doesn't exist where Rove and his like operate. So to say that he's betrayed something that he doesn't even believe in means nothing in the real world. And it serves as a poor substitute for real analysis and criticism, which is needed now more than ever.

Patriotism is a state religion used by elites as a form of control, and embraced by the powerless as a substitute for politics. People who consider themselves "progressives" should demystify this state of affairs, not help to prop it up. The Karl Rove circus is an excellent place to do so.