Yesterday, ThinkProgress attended a Yahoo-sponsored Citizen 2.0 event in Washington, DC, at which Karl Rove discussed the intersection of politics and the Internet. Rove lamented the loss of civility in politics on the web, but then proceeded to use his speech as a partisan bashing of the netroots. According to Rove, bloggers are “nutty,” “vitriolic,” and “kooks.” The Washington Times reported on his remarks:
“The Web has given angry and vitriolic people more of a voice in public discourse,” said Mr. Rove, who served as one of President Bush’s top strategists until he resigned this past summer, and is a noted technology nut.
“People in the past who have been on the nutty fringe of political life, who were more or less voiceless, have now been given an inexpensive and easily accessible soapbox, a blog,” Mr. Rove said during a speech about politics and the Web at the Willard InterContinental, a hotel just blocks from his former place of employment.
“I’m a fan of many blogs. I visit them frequently and I learn a lot from them,” Mr. Rove said. “But there also blogs written by angry kooks.”
He also claimed that liberals use more “bad words,” comparing sites like DailyKos and Democratic Underground to Townhall and FreeRepublic. The “netroots often argue from anger rather than reason, and too often, their object is personal release, not political persuasion,” said Rove.
– When Bush ran against Democratic Texas governor Ann Richards in 1994, Rove was connected to a rumor that Richards was a lesbian.
– A former Rove staffer said that during the 1996 Alabama Supreme Court race, the campaign of Harold See — run by Rove — “initiated a whisper campaign” that See’s opponent “was a pedophile.”
– “Political operatives” have charged that Rove orchestrated a “widely disseminated rumor that John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, had betrayed his country under interrogation and been rendered mentally unfit for office.”
During the Q & A session, Rove admitted that despite the coarseness of the political debate, he hopes the netroots “keep at it” because it helps Republicans. If only the blogosphere were as civil as Karl Rove.
UPDATE: Looks like Rove took some time out to get his picture taken with some of those crazy netroots activists.
UPDATE II: Atrios highlights one of Rove’s oh-so-civil quotes: “We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!”
UPDATE IV: The Washingtonian writes that Rove later IMed MoveOn’s Tom Matzzie, admitting he criticized him:
Rove criticized MoveOn.org’s Tom Matzzie for boasting that an antiwar group would end the war. Later, the two IM’d on a T-Mobile Sidekick provided by Clay Johnson, a Democratic Internet consultant and friend of the antiwar leader. According to Clay, Rove wrote to Matzzie: “This is rove and I did take your name in vain.” He then mysteriously added, “Have enjoyed listening to your [MoveOn?] calls!””©
Michael Bassik at TechPresident and Ari Melber at The Notion have more. Danny at Beltway Blogroll notes that “the fact that Rove clearly only likes bloggers who help his cause or share his views shows that he, like too much of official Washington, still doesn’t appreciate the medium. What a shame.”