Secret meetings of conservative all-stars -- many of which have secret donors! -- only adds to the image of Rove as a manipulator first, commentator second. In 2007, just after Rove left the White House, his criticism of Hillary Clinton launched a ton of op-eds and blog posts -- surely Rove was trying to sink Hillary because he thought it'd be easier to run against Obama. Unless! He's attacking Clinton because he only wants liberals to think Republicans are scared of her, but she'd actually be easier to beat! But that was before Citizens United make it possible to create groups like American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Now we have some way to measure Rove's actions against his words -- whether all that speculating about his hidden meanings has any basis in reality. It's still early this election year, so there isn't that much evidence to work with. But here are a couple examples.
Public Rove: Last week, Rove wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed saying President Obama's decision to kill Osama bin Laden was no big deal. Rove included a partial quote from Bill Clinton that completely distorted the former president's meaning. Clinton: "When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, `I hope that’s the call I would have made.’” (A compliment to Obama.) Rove's version of Clinton: 'Even President Bill Clinton says in the film “that’s the call I would have made.'" (A boast from Clinton bordering on an insult to Obama.)
Private Rove: This one is speculation, most of it from liberals, that Rove was telling Republicans how to run on foreign policy against Obama. "Keep an eye on this one, too, because it will also be central to GOP efforts to rewrite the history of the Obama presidency," The Washington Post's Greg Sargent wrote of the no-big-deal spin. "There is no disputing Karl Rove’s political skills. I don’t mean to say I admire him: He’s dedicated to causes I find repugnant. But when Mr. Rove strikes, you have to pay attention, because he’s wicked good -- in the Massachusetts and original sense of that word -- at playing the public," The New York Times' Andrew Rosenthal said. But the vast majority of both Crossroads' groups' ads are focused on the economy and taxes, not national security. But one does make a reference to this theme: an American Crossroads ad mocks Obama for saying his "legislative and foreign policy accomplishments" ranked only below Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ. It notes the foreign policy accomplishments of JFK and Reagan.
Public Rove: When Chrysler's Super Bowl half-time ad, "Halftime in America," seemed to fit nicely with Obama's economic message, Rove said he was outraged. "I was, frankly, offended by it," he said on Fox News. "It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising."