Monday, August 20, 2007

You're a Genius! (Until You're a Schmuck.)

Just finished reading "The Rove Presidency" in The Atlantic (sorry, not online) and it's pretty clear that we're in the second half of the classic American "You're a Genius! (Until You're a Schmuck)" media cycles. Rove gets a dimwitted playboy selected for elected to the most powerful office in the world. He's a Genius! Against all odds, he does it again. He's The Architect! A Genius! Then Bush loses congress and Rove's The Guy Who Fucked Everything Up. He quits and everyone (yes, even Repubs) start piling on. He goes on tour to try to salvage his reputation (and maybe, as Rachel Maddow just said on "Countdown," to draw some attention away from his boss, who's on vacation and who everyone save the mouthbreathers pretty much hates at this point). "He's been fucking up since Day One!" "He made Crucial Mistakes along the way!" "And we never liked him much, either. So there."

You've been through this before. It happens all the time in business. Steve Case was a Genius! Until AOL bought Time Warner and he (and Gerald Levin) became World Class Schmucks. Jeffrey Skilling was on the side of the angels, until he was the Devil Incarnate. Carly Fiorina was The Bestest CEO Evah! until they booted her ass out of HP. Sub-prime mortgages are the bomb, until they are The Bomb.

I guess it's the same in politics and the only thing new is that tomorrow there will be more Geniuses -- and some of those will, somewhere down the road, become Schmucks. And when they do, the media will be there to tell us how they always knew he was a schmuck. But the media will never ever stop writing the Genius story because it's a lot less fun to be cautious , thoughtful, and/or honest than it is to write for posterity in the hope you'll be guy who discovered the next big Genius. Plus, if the Genius thing doesn't work out, there are always column inches to be filled writing the Schmuck narrative.

Karl Rove: Schmuck.

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