Bill Keller, of the New York Times, referred to Matt Cooper’s abrupt non-incarceration as resulting from “deus ex machina.” There’s nothing like a little Latin to put me in mind of Greek tragedy, and soon enough the word “hubris” was rattling in my tiny skull like a ball-bearing in a bicycle tire.
Karl Rove was on TV today, wandering around a parking lot, cell phone to the ear. I was in a few U.S. Senators’ offices last Thursday and the phones were about to burst into flames from all the anti-Rove phone calls. And he just keeps digging in deeper.
But what’s more shocking than Rove himself is that his style of life-as-war has already so completely infected the young. Rove, the man who used voter disenfranchisement and dirty tricks to become head of the College Republicans, could be about to fall. But today, the young have learned all too well from him:
- Paul Gourley, new head of the College Republicans, won his election despite being wrapped up in a scandal in which his boss, the old head of the organization, raised money by lying. Michael Davidson, of California, challenged Gourley but lost because the South Dakotan kicked out the pro-Davidson voting delegates of two states. When they complained to the “credentials committee” at the convention, the committee turned a blind eye — it was controlled by Gourley supporters.
- In Nevada, the Young Republicans convention just wrapped up, $25,000 in the red. The head of the state party was accused very early on of walking off with — go figure — $25,000, if this report is to be believed. Now he’s trying to shake down the state’s Republican Congressional delegation. At last check, they were busy lighting one another’s cigars and competing for how much smoke they could blow in their young leader’s face.
- In New Jersey, Steve Damion, the head of the College Republicans, might have known before he became chairman that the group exists to offer volunteers and to train kids in the arts of grassroots politics and fundraising. But instead, he decided to take a quick shakedown route to the top, demanding pay from the state party in return for his volunteers. The state party, staffed largely by former College Republicans, looked at him rather like a drill sergeant might look at a recruit who says, “drop and give me 50.” He’s since been forced to quit in disgrace.
The good news is that the Republicans will soon be as decrepit and empty-shelled as the Democrats. The bad news is that civil society in the most powerful country in the history of the world will then be left entirely to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.