Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Monday, January 19, 2004

In a device meant to flatter the apprentice’s sorcerer while reinforcing a false idea of historic Bush inevitability, the New York Times’ easily befuddled Elizabeth Bumiller wonders why Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Joe Liberman and Tom Harkin talk so much about the President’s Mayberry Machiavelli Karl Rove.
In another coincidental faux-stunning Bushian coincidence, Ms. Bumiller arrives at a frequent press conclusion first introduced by Karl himself prior to the ill-fated 2000 Presidential Election:

Mr. Rove… like Mark Hanna, the strategist and fund-raiser behind William McKinley's 1896 drive to the presidency, he has longer-term goals… Rove is an avid student of Hanna's role in history…. Like Mr. Hanna… Rove "clearly wants to establish a Republican majority for decades to come."

Cartoons of Rove and Hanna

This concept or meme takes advantage of carefully selected historic props to reinforce in the public’s mind a sense of historic inevitability to the Bush occupation of the White House:

Hanna's name was used in a similar way with McKinley, and cartoonists of the time often drew the president as a small boy with his strategist telling him what to do. But historians note that McKinley was re-elected in 1900, ushering in a period of Republican dominance.

Like so many in media and government these days, Ms. Bumiller and Mr. Rove are somewhat selective with the factual record.
While it’s true that McKinley pioneered the supposedly hands-off executive style preferred by the current, incurious officeholder:

Every important letter addressed to the President is boiled down to six lines by the secretary, before it is seen by Mr. McKinley.

The 43rd, in reality, is no 25th:

All the great questions of the day are as familiar to him as the A B C's. He knows the exact standing of all the men that call upon him or correspond with him. He possesses in a remarkable manner the faculty of quick analysis and decision.

Accuracy need not conflict with Bumiller and Rove’s fanciful inevitability:

Historians note that McKinley was re-elected in 1900, ushering in a period of Republican dominance.

But, of course, historical periods are of variable length.
Unlike 1900, 2004 has not yet revealed itself and inevitability is not yet inevitable.
A Vice President with a weak heart, an industrialist past and a disdain for public speaking is an, unsurprisingly, unspoken element that could dash Rove’s desire for party dominance as Hanna’s were ultimately dashed by the November 21, 1899 death of Garrett A. Hobart.
In a July 24, 1999 Washington Post article, David Drehle quotes Marshall Wittmann of the Heritage Foundation:

McKinley's apple cart was upset when he chose Theodore Roosevelt as vice president. Roosevelt became president and redefined the party all over again. What if Bush meets his own version of Teddy Roosevelt in the primaries instead of a few years down the road? A reformer, a war hero, a tough, plain talker . . . Doesn't that sound a little like John McCain?

Howler Must Read!

Bob Somerby outs the reporter whose behavior shocked Tucker during Campaign 2000:

It was shocking. I was embarrassed, and I wasn’t a Gore man. And I remember talking to her afterwards, you know, “Boy, you know that was pretty rough, what you did to the vice president,” and she said, “I just don’t like him. He’s a phony.”

Photos: Reuters, AP, Ohio State University Department of History, Newsmakers
Cartoons:, OSU, The Daily Howler
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