Turd Blossom pays a visit!
September 14, 2008 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Karl Rove is coming to my university to give a talk. What should I ask him?

First off, I'm not looking to be a complete d*ck and waste my potential question scolding him for his disgusting politics. I want to ask a legitimate, coherent question, because whether I like it or not he is an important political figure. Ideally, I am looking for a query that will simultaneously be good enough that the Republicans in the crowd don't immediately demand that I be tased, but also pointed enough to reveal his underhanded tactics, numerous scandals, etc.

I need your advice, hive mind!
posted by aheckler to Law & Government (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask him if he has any more tips for Obama.
posted by aye at 6:19 AM on September 14, 2008

Ask him what is the second biggest city in Alaska.
posted by briank at 6:48 AM on September 14, 2008 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Love him or hate him, you can't argue with the man's success. Considering he is a college dropout, he still has an amazing grasp of his job.

This is a different kind of election, though. Personally, I would ask one of the following two questions:

1. I would ask him if the "cult of personality" around both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama is a predictor of how future elections will be.

2. I would also ask how demographics, both racial and gender, and to a slightly lesser degree, economic and social, have affected the race. Could we expect more of the same four years from now? And for every election thereafter?
posted by Master Gunner at 6:49 AM on September 14, 2008

"On your deathbed, do you think you'll regret your career as much as Lee Atwater did?"
posted by elle.jeezy at 6:49 AM on September 14, 2008 [18 favorites]

Seconding elle.jeezy. That is genius.
posted by PTCHFRKR at 6:54 AM on September 14, 2008

You could ask him "As a student considering a career in politics, I was wondering how the course your career has taken compares to what you imagined, and what first inspired you to get into politics".
posted by Mike1024 at 6:57 AM on September 14, 2008

Watch this Daily Show video.
posted by EarBucket at 6:57 AM on September 14, 2008

He is very good at a game with very high stakes.
It's not a question of belief or "politics".
I think he is an exceptionally gifted technician of a highly specialized craft.
So I would ask him about his tools: what kind of surveys or polls he uses, what kind of questions he asks to assess a situation.
posted by bru at 7:08 AM on September 14, 2008

Response by poster: I was thinking of something along these lines:

"As you must know from your time at Fox News, American media outlets are heavily biased. But at the same time, they almost never admit it (e.g., "fair and balanced"). How do you think the U.S. would benefit or be hurt by a more European press culture, where news channels, papers, and so on are more forthright about their liberal or conservative bias, and why?"
posted by aheckler at 7:09 AM on September 14, 2008

If I were in your shoes, I would probably ask one out of the following:

1. Over the past eight years, have you held in any regrets regarding anything that you have done?

2. Besides having a very successful political track record as of late, what other accomplishments are you proud of?

3. (Sort of a spin-off of Mike1024's question) What are some notable roadblocks to your goals during your career?

4. What were your initial goals when entering a career in politics (other than what a good portion of the public perceives...)?

*reads wikipedia profile*

5. You once described yourself as "the complete nerd" with pocket protector, briefcase, etc. In your high school years did you ever have any interest in the sciences which (stereo)typically attract nerds? If so, which subject area were you curious in, and why? If not, then why not?

Good luck sir!!! Let us know what you find out.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:24 AM on September 14, 2008

To the OP, he'll just deny your premise with regards to Fox and put it up as a model for the rest of the "librul media" to follow.

If I had the opportunity, I would avoid a long descriptive question. Keep it brief, single issue i.e. no chance to evade and one that doesn't have a stock answer ready.
posted by Gyan at 7:25 AM on September 14, 2008

Ask about his father.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:32 AM on September 14, 2008

Best answer: Don't be a dick, good thinking. Especially not like the folks at my alma matter.

The amn has an encyclopedia knowledge of politics and history. To boot, he has an amazing talent to bullshit. So don't think that you can get him in a gotcha setting. His professional life is evading these types of questions.

So I would ask something serious and something that will help future generations and this one understand a man that helped shape the world we live in today.

Me, I'm fascinated by the guy as a person and as a political operative. He is the poster boy for a turn-of-the-century political operative in the same way Tammany was for a generation ago. So I would ask something along the lines of:

Why do you do this? Why of all careers did you get into politics? Was it the thrill of the kill, the competition? What makes someone like you devote 100% of your life (he's not married, has no kids and lives out of hotel rooms i think) to something like this?

and then I'd throw a pie at him :)
posted by willie11 at 7:40 AM on September 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

Rove's parents divorced when his stepfather, whom he considered his father, came out as gay.

What I would really like to know is whether Rove's stepfather molested him when he was a boy-- so much would be explained if the answer were to be in the affirmative-- but I think it is unconscionable for anyone to ask such a question of a stranger in public or private.

If you were to ask him how his relationship with his stepfather has influenced his career in politics, however, I think he would understand exactly what you meant.
posted by jamjam at 8:16 AM on September 14, 2008

he's not married, has no kids and lives out of hotel rooms i think

He's married, has a son, and owns houses in D.C. and Florida.
posted by decagon at 9:10 AM on September 14, 2008

Best answer: As you rightly say, I don't think you should use this as an opportunity to unburden yourself of anger, and trying to make him feel bad or look stupid is probably futile and/or pointless too. But you could hope to ask a question to which his answer might end up creating a news story damaging to McCain/Palin. Others may have better ideas for this, but I'm thinking something along the lines of making a connection between anti-McCain tactics in 04 and McCain's anti-Obama tactics in 08, or whether McCain is finally learning from the Rove playbook...? Keep it fairly light, and he might get jokey and a little more candid. Anything resulting in a statement from Rove that overtly connects the rise of Bush to the rise of McCain would be problematic for the McCain campaign at the moment, and might have legs as a story.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:12 AM on September 14, 2008

Best answer: Agree- don't be a dick. Right or wrong, he is a guest in your school. Ask questions that are respectful and would tend to let him tell his story and give listeners a view into his personality. We are free to disagree, or course. But heckling and protesting just reinforce his worldview and don't further anything.

"In your view, what are the ethics of running a campaign? Where is the line between doing everything you can to win, and engaging in unethical behavior? What is something that another campaign has done that you wouldn't have done?"

"How do you view your role in a campaign versus your own political ideals? Do you advise certain candidates because they are who you believe will be the best person for the office, or do you look at yourself as more of a consultant, who owes his duty to the campaign more than to your own world view?"

"Do you have any regrets about any of the campaigns you've run?

"What advice have you given candidates that they didn't take, to their own detriment?

"Do you believe it's better to lose an election by sticking to ones principles, or win an election by mortgaging ones principles?"

"What policy ideals do you respect the most, and least, about the Democratic Party?"

"If you were advising a Democratic presidential candidate, what advice would you give him or her?"

"What change would like to see in the GOP?"

"What do you believe is the biggest difference between running a campaign and running an administration?"

"If you weren't a political consultant, what would you be doing for a living?"
posted by gjc at 9:19 AM on September 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

Another one:

"After running President Bush's 2000 campaign, what was the biggest surprise, challenge or learning experience you had after being in the White House? What "thing" was most different than you expected it to be?"
posted by gjc at 9:23 AM on September 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for your help everyone! You certainly did better than Reddit.
posted by aheckler at 9:44 AM on September 14, 2008

Ask him to roll the clock back to mid 2007, when Hillary Clinton was steamrolling to the nomination and John McCain was coming in third or fourth in Republican polls. What did Clinton do wrong and what did McCain do right, or where they simply victims / beneficiaries of their opponents successes and failures.
posted by MattD at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2008

Here's what I would ask him:
(excuse my english, not native)

While I disagree with you politically, I'm pretty impressed how much impact you, your style and your methods have had on the way politics work today. I'm worried that more and more people think all politicians will do whatever it takes to win, and few really trust politicians to put their voter's interests over their own any more. Would you agree that it is a danger to our democracy?
posted by dnial at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A few things removed. I know Rove's a big target, folks, but try and answer the actual question instead of taking shots or chatting/riffing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:16 AM on September 14, 2008

it this
posted by dnial at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2008

Best answer: "Mr. Rove, on August 10, 2008, you appeared as a guest on CBS News's Face the Nation and suggested that having been mayor of the "small city" of Richmond, population 220,000, and governor of the twelfth largest state, for only two years, Tim Kaine of Virginia was not a properly qualified candidate for the democrats to choose for the vice presidency. In light of those remarks, can you please speak as to the qualifications of your party's candidate, Gov. Palin, please?"
posted by Dreama at 10:38 AM on September 14, 2008 [7 favorites]

"In your view, what are the ethics of running a campaign? Where is the line between doing everything you can to win, and engaging in unethical behavior? What is something that another campaign has done that you wouldn't have done?"

"Do you believe it's better to lose an election by sticking to ones principles, or win an election by mortgaging ones principles?"

Similarly, I'd like to hear his response to the question: "Do the ends justify the means?"
posted by ludwig_van at 10:58 AM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm seconding Dreama's question because it really puts him between a rock and a hard place, with legitimate reason!

The transcript of that Face the Nation episode is available online, so you could print a copy to have with you as backup.

I'd really like to hear what Rove has to say about that...
posted by ktpupp at 6:50 PM on September 15, 2008

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