Bob Schieffer to Karl Rove: Are You Saying Rush Limbaugh Takes Things Out Of Context?

Bob Schieffer attempted a nice little gotcha on Sunday when he asked former Bush adviser Karl Rove, "Have you come on 'Face the Nation' this morning and said for the record that Rush Limbaugh takes things out of context?"

The man commonly referred to as The Architect didn't take the bait (video follows with transcript and commentary):

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let’s talk about the Tea Party a little bit. Rush Limbaugh said you feel threatened by the Tea Party because you and the-- the other establishment folks didn’t have anything to do with forming it.

KARL ROVE: No, no. I-- I welcome it. I think it’s one of the most positive and wholesome developments. What he took out of context was a comment I made in an interview with a bunch of hostile German reporters in which I said, “The Tea Party is not sophisticated.” And then yet, in my definition of the word sophisticated, I was using the one about pretentiously or superficially wise. These are not people who are skilled in the ways of Washington. They don’t want to be. They’re ordinary Americans from Main Street America who have created a massive grassroots effort driven by a sentiment in this country. Even more important than the groups is the sentiment that’s driving it, that the government is on a terribly dangerous course of spending too much money, running up too much deficit and taking up too much of our-- too much control of our lives with things like Obamacare. And I consider it to be wholesome, patriotic, and incredibly positive for the country. It’s going to drive turn up at this election. Four years ago, eighty two million people voted in races for the U.S. House of Representatives. I would not be surprised to see it be eighty-five or eighty-six. I wouldn’t-- I wouldn’t drop over if it got to ninety million. And a large amount of that new participation in this year’s election is being driven by a vast army of local grassroots organizations, organized around a kitchen table, organized in a community center, organized over a-- in a coffee shop of people who want to do something to save America.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I want to get back to that but I must ask you about something you just said. Are you saying, have you come on FACE THE NATION this morning and said for the record that Rush Limbaugh takes things out of context?

KARL ROVE: Well, in this instance, he-- he didn’t-- he may have commented before he saw the entire interview. Look, he’s a friend of mine. And he is more-- he is almost more than anybody else is responsible for helping encourage people to educate themselves about the-- the impact of the spending, the deficit and Obamacare so that they have become politically active. He has a vast audience and that audience and-- and others have talked to that audience as well. And people have come to-- think about it. The President of the United States has the biggest bully pulpit in the country. He’s got vast majorities in the Senate and the House. And yet, the health care bill goes from being a-- as a general concept favored by American people in the early part of 2009, by two to one to when the bill actually passed--forty-four percent of the Americans favored it, forty-seven disapproved of it. And today, if you take a look at the average of the polls over the last several months, it’s an average of forty percent of the American people favor the bill and nearly fifty percent today don’t favor. It’s the only piece of major social legislation that I’ve seen in modern times that became less popular after it was passed.

For the record, here's what Limbaugh said Wednesday:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: "'Election Day is coming, the hurricane force has not diminished and it is going to hit the Democrats head on,' said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. 'It's hard to say that the Democrats are facing anything less than a Category 4 hurricane,' Hart added." That is from the pollster. Hart also said that the lead is somewhat hollow because not all registered voters will participate, especially in midterm elections but that the generic ballot is still strongly favoring Republicans. Among those expressing high interest in voting in this election, Republicans hold a 13-point advantage in the generic ballot, 53 to 40. That's unprecedented. That hasn't happened, gosh, in I don't know how long. And among Tea Party supporters who make up 35% of all likely voters in the poll, Republicans have a whopping 84% to 10% edge, among 35% of voters, the Tea Party.

Now, meanwhile, there are Republican political operatives insulting Tea Party members of not being sophisticated, not having read Friedrich Von Hayek. Wonderful, great people, but just not sophisticated. Karl Rove said this, but he's not alone. I got a note today from a friend, "Why would Karl be saying this, Rush? You know Karl. Why would he be saying this? Why doesn't Karl learn to keep his mouth shut?" I said, "Karl means to say this. Mike Murphy, all these guys, they think this." It's not easy for me to say here, folks, it really isn't. But it's what ought to be a euphoric period still indicates that on the Republican side there are divisions and jealousies and egos and competition. And the simplest explanation is that the Tea Party cannot be claimed as credit by anybody. Nobody can say, "I am the Tea Party." Nobody can say, "I started the Tea Party." Nobody can say, "I saw the Tea Party coming, and I steered it." Nobody who makes a living generating political support, generating political donations, nobody in that business can point to the Tea Party and say, "I did it." So it's a threat.

It's a genuine effervescent, grassroots effort. Nobody has any control over it, nobody can honestly claim any credit for it, and therefore it's a threat. Folks, I could give you the greatest analogy I ever could, but I would probably end my career doing so in talking about this program in its early days. None of the experts -- and they were all very nice people -- none told me it would work. They all told me it wouldn't work. Therefore when it did, none of them can say they had anything to do with it. So there was ambivalence about it while people were happy about it at the same time. Same thing with the Tea Party movement. Any time people that are considered unprofessional or outside the professional realm enter somebody else's professional realm and shake it up, you have a bit of a threat there. And I think it's partially what's going on here.  

And this is what Rove told Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove: Sure. There have been movements like this before -- the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That's exactly what's going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.

SPIEGEL: Is the Tea Party movement a repeat of the Reagan Revolution?

Rove: It's a little bit different because the Reagan Revolution was driven a lot by the persona of one man, Ronald Reagan, who had an optimistic and sunny view of what the nation could be. It was also a well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution. If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated. It's not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care.

Doesn't seem to be a lot of smoke in any of this, does there?

I guess liberal media members just can't stop themselves from trying to discredit a conservative despite the absence of substance.

Gotta give Schieffer an "A" for effort though.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.