Sometimes in blogging timing is everything. I had this post about Karl Rove all ready to go, and then he goes and resigns on me. Oh well. Anyway, this is a response to an excellent post by Maha about Karl Rove’s vaunted political acumen not being so, erm, acumeney. Maha writes:
Another factor: I’ve thought many times that the Bush White House has a weird inability to respond to unexpected events. Whenever something happens that was not on the schedule — like 9/11 or the tsunami or Hurricane Katrina or Dick Cheney’s hunting “accident” — they are flummoxed. Often they are slow to recognize the significance of an event until after everyone else on the planet has recognized it first. They are so focused on their pre-planned agenda they can’t see anything else.
Rove’s ‘genius’, such as it was, was not tactical. He had two things going for him: Ken Mehlman, who brought modern microniche advertising into politics, and his own ability to do anything without any sense of shame or guilt. Slime McCain’s adopted Bangladeshi daughter as McCain’s illegitimate black child in South Carolina? No problem. Use the 3,000 dead from the Sept. 11th attacks as political props? No problem.
If I decide to get rich by walking down the streets of a wealthy neighborhood, punching people in the head, and taking their stuff, that’s not a brilliant plan. But it’s highly effective if no one stops me (or even just crosses to the other side of the street). Most sociopaths aren’t successful at life; there’s a reason why our jails have 5-20 times the rate of people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder as the public at large*. The smart ones, however, can do a lot of damage because they are willing to do things no one else would do. Ultimately, they are only stopped by opposing them–something the Democrats still haven’t figured out how to do on a consistent basis.
Sociopathic behavior** is not genius.
*This estimate is from Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door. The variance exists because the estimates of antisocial personality disorder of the general population in the U.S. vary between one to four percent. The prisoner population is roughly twenty percent. Also, some antisocial personality disorder patients may have been misdiagnosed narcissicists.
**I have no idea whether Rove is an actual sociopath. In his professional life, however, he certainly behaves as one.
Update: Amanda thinks so too.