Who is Karl Rove's historical counterpart?
November 9, 2004 1:32 AM   Subscribe

Who is Karl Rove's historical counterpart? Is there any figure in history that can match his level of cunning intellect and political expertise?
posted by invisible ink to Law & Government (26 answers total)
Is there any figure in history with the intellect and talent for politics of Karl Rove. Wow. Is the man that highly rated right now? Granted, it's no small feat getting a chimp elected POTUS, but really, isn't this question a little overblown? Have we reached - and passed - the point of comparing Karl Rove to Winston Churchill, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Ghengis Khan, ...? Can we really think of no one on Karl Rove's level, without help? Does "God" count as a historical figure?
posted by scarabic at 2:39 AM on November 9, 2004

Dick Morris was cunning. Lyndon B. Johnson was cunning and politically expert (read Robert A. Caro's 'The Years of Lyndon JOhnson' and be awed - both by the book and the man). Talleyrand was véry cunning (survived five regimes during the French revolution, no small feat for someone in power). So yes, I'd say there are figures in history that match his intellect and expertise.
posted by NekulturnY at 3:05 AM on November 9, 2004

Roger Ailes, in service of Reagan/Bush (communications director). James Carville/Paul Begala, Clinton.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:13 AM on November 9, 2004

perhaps it's giving him way too much credit, but the first name that popped into my head was Niccolo Machiavelli.
posted by crunchland at 4:42 AM on November 9, 2004

posted by Mo Nickels at 5:38 AM on November 9, 2004

R. Daneel Olivaw.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:49 AM on November 9, 2004

Two common names that are given are Gen. Patton (for his drive and need to win) and Bobby Fischer (for his ability to "see the whole board").
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:51 AM on November 9, 2004

Cardinal Richelieu.
posted by zadcat at 5:52 AM on November 9, 2004

James Bond
posted by repoman at 6:06 AM on November 9, 2004

Boss Tweed
posted by briank at 6:09 AM on November 9, 2004

posted by contessa at 6:14 AM on November 9, 2004

Lee Atwater.

And if a few thousand votes had been different in Ohio, everyone would be sneering that his concentrate-on-the-base strategy was dopey and flawed.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:23 AM on November 9, 2004

P.T. Barnum
posted by whatnot at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2004

Professor Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime.
posted by Hildago at 7:13 AM on November 9, 2004

Karl Rove is a rank amateur compared to the likes of Lee Atwater and even Atwater cannot compare to the likes of Machiavelli, Tallyrand and Johnson. Rove is shrewd and has a good feel for the non-urban population, but his accomplishments in this election are highly overrated.
posted by caddis at 7:13 AM on November 9, 2004

The closest historical analog I can think of is a guy whose name I can't recall or retrieve with my weak-assed Google skilz.

But my ever useless memory recalls that this advisor to Harry S Truman crafted the political strategy that enabled President Truman to win in 1948, after polling at 36% earlier that year. And he did it despite not one but two "third-party" challenges directly siphoning off Democratic votes, and without a national calamity or war.
posted by mojohand at 7:15 AM on November 9, 2004

Tony Randall.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:26 AM on November 9, 2004

i'm surprised no-one has mentioned (that i can see) the equivalent for the uk labour party - that shouty chap and mandy. you might even stretch things to include blair himself (not that i think he's evil - he's a succesful political pragmatist).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:40 AM on November 9, 2004

A Machiavel like that is truly without peer.
posted by kenko at 7:49 AM on November 9, 2004

On the political power deals leading to and during WW2, I read Mosley's On Borrowed Time and Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

The frighteningly easy way the two world powers were duped into believing Germany was powerful at the eve of WW2, indeed reeked of "cunning intellect and political expertise".
posted by ruelle at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2004

My friend who works at the Pentagon was musing over this very question the other night. He says either Richelieu or Dr. Strangelove.
posted by scody at 8:45 AM on November 9, 2004

He likes to compare himself to Mark Hanna, McKinley's advisor.
posted by stopgap at 9:21 AM on November 9, 2004

maybe there's something to that: Newspapers caricatured McKinley as a little boy led around by "Nursie" Hanna, the representative of the trusts. (and another manufactured war, too!)
posted by amberglow at 9:54 AM on November 9, 2004

mojohand, Clark Clifford is generally given credit for fashioning Truman's election in 1948. Is he of whom you think?
posted by joaquim at 10:45 AM on November 9, 2004

Lenin, then Trotsky, then Stalin?

Lots of cunning political manouevering (and, admittedly, backhanded killing) there.
posted by dazed_one at 11:08 AM on November 9, 2004

Joaquim, Clark Clifford was President Truman's political consigliere, but the guy I was thinking of was the now forgotten (especially by me) James H. Rowe, his assistant and drafter of a lengthy memo presented to HST by Clifford and followed exactly by the campaign.
posted by mojohand at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2004

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