Hardball: Bill Clinton = 'Unifying Moses', Karl Rove = 'Divisive Evil Genius'
On last night’s Hardball, Bill Clinton was depicted as a unifying "Moses"-like figure while Karl Rove was portrayed as a divisive "evil genius." In describing Bill Clinton on a campaign stop at Georgetown University, NBC’s Kevin Corke used biblical terms: "It was as if Moses himself had returned. Former President Bill Clinton, the man some believe could figure prominently in helping to lead Democrats back to the political promised land, was back at his alma mater, Georgetown, for a major speech this week."
And then later in the program the Washington Post's John Harris, painted Clinton's politics as a "unifying" but Bush’s, specifically, Karl Rove’s politics as "divisive" as he and Hardball host, Chris Matthews wondered what the "evil genius," had "up his sleeve."
The following is a transcript of the exchange between Matthews and Harris from the October 19th editon of Hardball:
John Harris, Washington Post: "But I think John McCain, and he is a formidable politician, as we write about in this book. He may be among the best-positioned, certainly in the Republican Party. But he's got his foot in both camps. We described Clinton politics tries to blur the differences, find the center and hold it. Bush politics is happy to divide people over divisive issues like gay marriage. John McCain cannot quite decide is he going run on a Clinton-style unifying politics, or is he going to basically take Karl Rove`s playbook and..."
Matthews: "Will the Republicans accept the unifier? Will the Republicans accept the unifier? Do they still want to have the, the ramparts up?"
Harris: "You know, I think the 2006 election we're going to have in 19 days from now are really going to answer that question. Karl Rove's brand of politics, which is divide, clarify, make sure you're on the winning side of that divide, has been incredibly effective for five years through the last two elections, 2002 and 2004. It flattened. Democrats caught them by surprise. It may be running out its rope. If so, you're going to be looking at Republicans saying maybe we ought to borrow a page from Bill Clinton's playbook."
Matthews: "I thought it was, well you respond. I'll just ask you the question. I saw in the NBC poll the other day that, it may not have been our poll but one of the other big polls, Gallup I think that only 15 percent of the people think moral issues, the way we usually describe them, you know, sexual mores, things like that, abortion rights, gay marriage, only 15 percent think those are top issues coming up into these elections next month."
Matthews: "What does that tell you? That we're tired of all those discussions, the divisive kind of discussion we`ve had on these issues?"
Harris: "It tells me that the war is a huge issue in American politics."
Harris: "It's bigger, and you know, this Karl, this election might be Karl Rove's Waterloo in one sense if Republicans get beat in this."
Matthews: "What's he got up his sleeve? What has he got up his sleeve?"
Harris: "We'll find out. I guarantee you that he`s got something up his sleeve. He's incredibly..."
Matthews: "Well, let's go, let's go to the usual suspects. Republicans know from the polls they've got two strengths right now. One is terrorism. Anything that reminds us of 9/11 reminds us of Bush's leadership back then and, and since then. Taxes, Republicans are good at cutting taxes. Democrats are notorious for not cutting them, whether the current polls back that up or not. Democrats want to talk about Iraq, as you say, it`s good for them and Bush, and of course, Foley. Now we have this priest popping out of nowhere in Italy saying, 'I was the one that had the relationship with him.' What is, what is, Karl Rove gonna do? Talk about? Is he gonna have another Cuban Missile Crisis in the next three weeks?"
Harris: "Let's find out. There is so much almost paranoia within Democratic circles because they believe Rove is, in their view, an evil genius. He's got something up his sleeve."
Matthews: "He's cooking up something."