Karl Rove Is No Genius

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET
  • Catherine Ingram Catherine Ingram is the author of "Passionate Presence," "In the Footsteps of Gandhi," and "A Crack in Everything." A Crack in Everything, and In the Footsteps of Gandhi.

I am so tired of hearing Karl Rove referred to as a genius. It’s like saying the mob boss, known for getting his way by kneecapping people and stuffing bodies into car trunks, is a genius. When informed friends of mine acknowledge Karl Rove’s intellectual prowess, they are always careful to qualify: he’s an evil genius, conjuring up images of the Penguin in Batman, or Goldfinger in James Bond. But it didn’t take genius to figure out the base fears of the religious right and the conservative heartland in the last election. The specter of gay people having the right to marry was one of several hot-button issues that anyone who reads the news could have predicted would inflame the red states. It didn’t take genius to exploit those fears; it took venality. It is time we called things by their proper names -- and apply the word genius, whether used for good or ill, to understandings that include nuance, foresight, and an intelligence that can clearly advocate its opponent’s position.