Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rove bores me; thank goodness for Esteve

Last night's Washington County GOP fundraiser starring Karl Rove may have been one of the more surreal experiences I've had as a blogger. Its odd being in the same room with a guy who looks like a harmless Mr. Potato Head on the outside but gives off a vibe reminiscent of a charming sociopath.

According to the Oregonian, about 50 protestors showed up (which the O characterizes as "few"--but it was about 1/3 of the number that showed up for Rove's event)

When I arrived, I only saw about 5 protestors, but I was there pretty early. Other events I've attended where famous politicos give speeches have always been horribly crowded and parking is generally a premium. So I made sure to get there plenty early.

But that turned out not to be necessary. Only about 150 people showed up. Oddly, I know of at least one progressive who paid to get in and was called back and told that the event was sold out--and was given her money back. It looked to me like there was plenty of room for more people.

I heard Thom Hartmann say that he paid for both he and his wife to attend--and was called back and told that his money would be returned and that he could show up as press--without his wife. I can't fathom why they wouldn't take Thom's money either--unless they didn't want him mingling with the Republicans outside of the press corral.

I went up to sign in to enter the event--and a couple of young GOP pricks tried to misdirect me when I asked if I was at the correct table. Apparently for some Republicans, paranoia against the press runs deep. They considered themselves hilarious for their weak attempt--which likely explains why they lapped up Karl Rove's speech like dogs.

KPAM radio host Victoria Taft was trotted out to introduce Rove.

I can only assume that they couldn't get anyone else to do it. There were any number of local politicos who could have done the job and managed it better. While Taft knows how to toss the red meat to a willing audience, she doesn't have the kind of chops that I generally associate with introducing a major political party figure. There were several state legislators in attendance (I saw Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) and Sen Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). GOP Party Chair Vance Day was there as well.

But then Rove is extremely radioactive. Taft had to shake hands with Rove once he arrived at the podium. Its unlikely that any elected officials in Oregon want a photo out there of themselves shaking hands with Karl Rove.

Which probably explains why neither Gordon Smith or Greg Walden were in attendance. It would have been pretty tough to keep them from having to give a speech or stand next to Rove. Photographers would have had a field day.

Rove's speech was typical GOP pablum. His two pronged rhetoric dealt with taxes and Iraq. The taxes rant was essentially what anyone would expect: taxes bad! (crowd roars) Democrats don't care about you--they just want your tax money for their pet programs! (crowd roars) Here are a bunch of numbers that don't have to do with anything real but it looks like Democrats are screwing with your wallet! (crowd roars extra loud)

Then came the Iraq rant--which was also the same recycled crap: We're in a war against terrorism! (crowd roars) We have to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here! (crowd roars) The Democrats are weak and confused in their response to terror! (crowd roars) Here are a bunch of half truths and lies to stoke the crowd! (crowd roars extra loud)

Rove also referred to "winning the war" numerous times--but like the rest of the Bush Administration, consistently and conveniently doesn't tell anyone what "winning the war" means. Nonetheless, the crowd stood riveted at attention.

When Rove finished his speech, he rushed out quickly with what appeared to be about a half dozen Secret Service agents. Perhaps someone who knows more about the Treasury Department than I do can explain this: is it customary for non-elected, non-cabinet Executive branch employees to have a Secret Service detail? There was also a heavy contingent of Tigard police. I would guess this visit cost the City of Tigard a hefty chunk of change more than the Washington County Republicans took in for their fundraiser.

On his way out, Harry Esteve of the Oregonian tossed out a question, "Hey Karl--do you want to talk about the emails?" Referencing of course this story in which four years worth of Rove's emails seem to have gone missing.

Rove rushed right on by after the question, leaving the press corps cracking up.

Which turned out to be the most entertaining part of the entire event. I was sort of hoping for Rove's head to turn 360 degrees and for a good spitting of green pea soup..but alas, all we had was Harry Esteve.