Where did the negativity begin?

Published 10:48 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“To applaud the U.S Army’s capture of Saddam Hussein and, therefore, in retrospect, justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq, is like deifying Jack the Ripper for disemboweling the Boston Strangler.” —Arundhati Roy

Charlotte Brocker from Maplewood wrote in a letter to the editor in the Star Tribune what Paul Wellstone said at a small fundraiser in White Bear Lake just a few days before the tragic airplane crash. Much of the talk she says was about Iraq, and Paul then had two things to say.

He said that night that Karl Rove was the most evil person he had ever met in his life and he said, “the power of the presidency is so strong that its occupants can make anything happen. They can manufacture events for their agenda.” At that time there were few people in this country who would have said either of those things.

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Of course it was Karl Rove who engineered George W. Bush’s campaigns. This, however, may bring to mind the late Lee Atwater, who was featured in the New York Times recently where mention is made of all the nastiness of this year’s presidential campaign. The downward spiral into ever-meaner electioneering really started about 20 years ago with Lee Atwater, who was best known for engineering George H.W. Bush’s win in 1988 that some newly registered voter might not be aware of.

For old timers such as myself, I remember Atwater clearly. The article says that “Mr. Atwater became such a mythic figure in American politics that he was praised at his funeral in 1991 for being Machiavellian ‘in the very best sense of the word.’

Now there may be some of you not sure of what “Machiavellian” means; it isn’t complimentary. I think it is indecent. One definition of Machiavellian is political manipulation.

This seems to apply more today than ever.

An example cited tells of one of the cruelest examples involving a former State Senator from South Carolina Democrat who as a youth had shock therapy for depression and Atwater, who worked for Republicans, was not sympathetic by going around telling people that the Democratic candidate had once “been hooked up to jumper cables.”

Then there was the Willie Horton thing in the anti-Dukakis commercial that helped defeat him.

And more recent were the Swift Boat attacks that helped defeat John Kerry in 2004 by Lee Atwater’s protégé Karl Rove.

Joseph Biden said John McCain had gone “Karl Rovian.” Karl thought Gov. Sarah Palin had done a very good job of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past association to the 1960s era radical William Ayers, a guilt by association.

Obama was 8 years old. Ayers is a professor now.

Going up against Mr. Rove, former Senator Max Cleland said, was like going up against the devil himself. You may remember that Max Cleland was a disabled Vietnam vet who spoke two years ago on behalf of Tim Walz at the American Legion Club here in Austin.

I would like to put a plug in for the Oct. 16 issue of the Rolling Stone that gives “a closer look at McCain’s life and a career that reveals a record of recklessness and dishonesty by Tim Dickinson.

This I haven’t read yet either, but I will.

Then in National Affairs Rove: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.

The intro snippet tells us Bush may be history, but his brain, Karl Rove, has been transplanted to the Mc Cain campaign written by Matt Taibbi with a photo showing Rove’s disciple Steven Schmidt, who helped Rove take down John Kerry, and who took charge of the McCain team in June — and immediately launched a smear campaign against Obama.

And finally in Reviews hard-boiled, raw bootlegs document Dylan’s late period revival.

Last week a good friend unveiled Bob Dylan’s Tell Tale Signs — The Bootleg Series at his hideout. There is a great illustration of Bob Dylan by Scott Laumann and a page and a half article including the illustration.

Dylan’s music helped us get through Vietnam and helped many of us get through life and if you are interested, beside the CD, Natalie Goldberg and a friend put together a movie searching for Dylan that I think you can find by bringing Natalie Goldberg up on the computer. That may be a task for me but hopefully not for you. Or, maybe the library can help you find it.

Don’t forget to say goodbye to the leaves.