Ahh, Karl Rove! Not too long ago, Rove had command of an astonishing political portfolio. From his perch, he created the many great works, for which he is still celebrated, like the awesome permanent Republican majority and the bases full of U.S. troops that will be in Iraq's cities forever and ever. Look upon his works, and, I don't know, bleat, maybe, with despair!
Sadly, times change. Seasons change. And these days, Rove has mainly been reduced to a Prince of High Dudgeon, with a portfolio of squawky bitchcraft. And the other day, the White House held a town hall meeting in Virginia, soliciting questions from the public on health care. Naturally, this gave Rove the vapors, something awful. Via Think Progress:
ROVE: This White House has carried prepackaged, organized, controlled, scripted events to a new height, and they're getting away with things that in any previous White House, the media would have eviscerated the press secretary and the White House for it.
Ha ha. Oh, the chortling! Uhm, here's some "previous White House" history:
- In April 2005, Bush's security detail threw three people out of an event in Colorado, citing a bumper sticker on their car that read "No More Blood For Oil." White House spokesman Trent Duffy said that if there's any evidence people might "disrupt the president," they "have the right to exclude those people from those events.
- In early 2005, North Dakota residents were refused entry to a Bush event after their names appeared on a "blacklist" of people banned from the event.
- In March 2005, people seeking tickets to a Social Security event were quizzed about their support of Bush and his Social Security plan ahead of time.
And, remember that time when the Bush administration prescreened soldiers for a Thanksgiving Day photo shoot in Iraq? GOOD TIMES.
Anyway, the Obama White House issued a statement describing the way in which they solicited questions. In their opinion, it was a pretty transparent process.
The President posted a video on YouTube several days ago, saying respond to this video with questions for me on health care, and we got hundreds, and all of those are online. So in terms of the videos that were selected, anyone can look at the range and see which ones we did and didn't select. That's fully transparent. They're all up on YouTube; they were all up yesterday on our website.
Because YouTube doesn't actually have a voting function, our new media staff took videos that were rated highly by other users and selected, from among those, questions that represented the range of things being asked. So a lot of people in the progressive community still want a single-payer system, so the first question was from a single-payer advocate. We took a question from a Republican member of Congress, Mike Burgess, about medical malpractice reform.
In terms of President Obama's health care proposal, questions about single-payer systems and tort reform can logically be deemed "adversarial." So, as far as processes that screen out those sorts of questions, it's not a very good one. But that's just two questions of many. And everything the White House says about how various YouTubes are rated could be worth exploring. In short, there's likely to be ample room to criticize this event. But Karl Rove needs to check himself.