Preppies Swift Boat Karl Rove;
Karl Rove's national rehab tour, which some are calling "More Venom and Then Some," makes a stop at the prestigious Choate Rosemary Hall School on Feb. 11 . After that, "The Divider" is off to the University of Pennsylvania to spread his unique brand of bipartisan bonhomie.
The kingmaker who conjured the modern political blitzkrieg that was to give us a permanent Republican majority for a millennium, more or less, was slated to be Choate's graduation speaker in June until the student body went, like, totally negative on the whole concept. Talk about what goes around coming around. Rove's term as graduation speaker-elect lasted just a few weeks.
Give him credit, though. In less than a month, Rove managed to do for Choate what he and his colleagues in the Bush administration have done to America over the past seven years. Members of this patrician prep school community were at one another's throats over the roly-poly power broker.
Left-of-center alums reportedly flooded the school with calls and e-mails threatening to cancel their donations if Rove wasn't replaced as commencement speaker.
The politicking got downright Rovian, as students sporting Topsiders and Uggs used all means, fair and foul, to make their case. Some floated the idea of an "alternative graduation" at which faux news commentator Stephen Colbert would preside.
Had that come to fruition, Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan and the board of trustees likely would have found themselves largely alone, chatting with Mr. Rove over plates of cucumber sandwiches.
Some of the "Throw Rove Overboard" cadre went straight to his resume. They pointed out that it was ironic that a man who has declined to talk under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in the firing of U.S. attorneys should be expected to tell it like it is to the class of 2008. The Senate committee has cited Rove for contempt of Congress. They added that Rove was notorious for not talking to the media, unless it involved a leak to a friendly journalist, often to skewer a political opponent.
Others sniffed that someone who went to college, receiving a deferment from the draft, but never earned his degree was hardly up to the standards expected of a graduation speaker at this elite preparatory school. Indeed, Rove wasn't the school's first choice - he got the nod when Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia couldn't make it to Wallingford.
A few argued that Rove, once touted as "Bush's Brain," wasn't exactly on top of his game of late. He has been confidently predicting a national Republican sweep in 2008, White House and Congress, as he did for the congressional mid-term elections of 2006 that put the Democrats in charge of the legislative branch.
If forced to concede that Rove was more successful in electing Republicans in 2000, 2002 and 2004, his detractors countered with assertions like "See what he hath wrought: the Katrina debacle, the quagmire in Iraq, mounting deficits, a slumping economy and a failed (amateurish) push to privatize Social Security."
Headmaster Shanahan finessed this delicate situation nicely. He, not Rove, would be the graduation speaker, but Rove would take part in a less formal rumpus with the student body on Feb. 11. This would appease the both sides of Choate's collective brain, the left and right lobes.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that my dear mother, who is 96, matriculated at Rosemary Hall in 1929 (long before it hooked up with Choate) and that my son is a 2005 grad. I think it's a fine school, if a bit pricey. But even good and honorable people, institutions and nations make mistakes. Take my mother, as an example. In 1932, she voted for Herbert Hoover. She has been atoning ever since at regular, four-year intervals.