Alex Massie

Karl Rove’s Idea of the Special Relationship

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Dave Weigel has an entertaining takedown of Karl Rove's new memoir Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight (a title that, oddly, is simultaneously vainglorious and reeking of self-pity). Meanwhile, here's a snippet of the Rovian style, as relayed by Andrew Rawnsley in his new book*. It's December 2000 and George W Bush has just become President:

[Sir Christopher] Meyer [then British ambassador to Washington] had done his best to cultivate relationships with the Bush team. Karl Rove, Bush's senior political strategist sent both encouragement and a warning, via Meyer: "You're going to start with a blank sheet of paper. By your works shall ye be known."

Preposterous too, that Rove should assume that he had the wherewithal to "forgive" Blair's past transgressions (that is, its friendship with Bill Clinton) and revealing that he, a mere functionary, felt he had the right to lecture, and arguably and implicitly, threaten the British government.

As I say, a trivial but telling moment, revealing a certain arrogance, even hubris, that would plague the Bush administration. When your first act is to send a message demanding fealty from suspect allies, it's perhaps unsurprising that you find diplomacy a tricky subject to master.

*It's good! I recommend it, for whatever that may be worth.

UPDATE: In the comments ConservativeCabbie takes a more generous view of Rove's remarks that, while certainly possible, is at odds with most of what else we know about how Rove plays the game.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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