Karl Rove’s Links

Full disclosure: I have two immediate links to Karl Rove. First, I sat next to him at a meeting in Austin, Texas, in the late 1990s when he was the political mastermind behind Dubya’s governership of Texas. There were about eight people in the room. I don’t remember saying anything but “hello” to him. Second, there was once a small item in the Austin American Statesman noting that Karl and I were two new occasional guest hosts of a public affairs program on the local public television station. My interviewees included Richard Rorty and Ernie Cortes.  I don’t think Karl ever interviewed any pragmatist philosophers or community organizers.

But enough about me. What about Karl? This morning’s New York Times has him linked to an “early query over dismissals” of U.S. attorneys. Yes, even before Alberto R. Gonzales showed up to take over the justice department, Karl Rove dropped by the office of a white house lawyer asking if it would be possible to start replacing some “underperforming” prosecutors. As Kyle Samson (a White House lawyer who later became Gonzales’ chief of staff and this week resigned), recounted in an email, “If Karl thinks there’s the political will to do it, then so do I.” In that email, Sampson also wrote, “The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc.”

Get it? Doing a good job as a U.S. attorney, in their minds, equals being a “loyal Bushy.”

I’m hoping that, contra Rorty (see his “Solidarity or Objectivity” article in his collected papers), there’s got to be more to “doing a great job” than solidarity. Or perhaps, with Rorty, solidarity can be more than narrow factionalism. A measure for even political performance should be more than does it promote the values of me and mine, of my partisan faction, but whether it promotes something a little bigger than that. Maybe a U.S. attorney should be looking out for the larger aspirations of the U.S. (and I’m hoping these are something better than what we’ve seen lately) and not just the Bush clan?

Rove so far has deflected fall out from the Valerie Plame scandal. How’s he going to fare here?

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See also today’s Daily Kos

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.