You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Rove On Obama As Veep

Noam has an excerpt from that interesting GQ interview with Karl Rove:

What do you make of this whole thing where Hillary was talking him up as a vice president and he came back saying, "Wait a minute, I'm winning—why are you asking me to be your number two?"
Very calculating on the part of the Clintons, and a mistake for him on his part.

Because they wanted him to get down to their level. They want him to look like, you know, not the golden inspiring figure but instead, you know, like an average ordinary pol who's got three years in the United States Senate. So they lay it out there. And rather than having it be dismissed by a surrogate, instead he goes out there! And rather than having an inspiring, forward-looking message, instead he's out there as an ordinary pol saying, "Hey, I'm number one, I'm in first place! I won more states than she did. I won more delegates than she did. What the hell's she doing offering it to me? That's insulting." And he did it in an arrogant way that I don't think made him look that good.

So you don't think his response played well?
No. Take a look at the footage. Turn the sound off and look at it. You can tell that he is arrogant, and you can tell that he's a little bit angry, and you can tell he's very dismissive. He takes his hands and he sort of, you know, waves his hand like, "I'm dismissing something." That was the moment to say, you know, "Look, I know what my opponents are saying, but you know what? I'm focused on one thing and one thing only, which is to help bring Republicans and Democrats and independents together to move America forward." Instead of "Hey, lemme just remind you, I'm winning! I'm beatin' her!"

So he took the bait?
He took the bait.

I had dinner a week ago with some friends who don't follow politics obsessively but do pay some attention and always vote. They are older Democrats, skeptical of Clinton but also slightly turned off by the Obama hype. And the first thing they mentioned was this particular issue; they were outraged that Clinton would "arrogantly" offer Obama the #2 slot. Obviously this is very, very anecdotal, but when I read the above passages something did not seem right. Like many political operatives (and commentators/bloggers!), Rove appears to be overthinking things in a major way. Every time the race has devolved into skirmishing between the two campaigns, the media is quick to say that the Clintonites have brought Obama down to their level...and therefore he will suffer. The problem is that there isn't any evidence that this is actually the case. 

P.S. Rove's implication that the Clintons brought this issue up not to diminish Obama and offer Democrats a two-for-one (Hillary and Barack on one ticket), but because they wanted to "bait" Obama into answering and thus reduce him to their level seems very, very far-fetched.

P.P.S. Rove's focus on Obama's arrogance is interesting, and does highlight the senator's biggest problem: He often seems arrogant!

--Isaac Chotiner