The "Civil War" Breaking Out Over Karl Rove's Super PAC is Incredibly Lame

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 7 2013 4:29 PM

The "Civil War" Breaking Out Over Karl Rove's Super PAC is Incredibly Lame

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Karl Rove in 2009.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The single most overplayed story of the week is the "Republican civil war" breaking out over Karl Rove and Stephen Law's new Conservative Victory Project. It's overplayed because every player in the story wants to overplay it.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Here's what I mean. Yesterday morning, Jonathan Collegio (spokesman for American Crossroads and the CVP) went on Breitbart.com's radio show hosted by Larry O'Connor to speak up for the project. Over eight mostly friendly minutes, Collegio argued that the CVP was anti-gaffe, not anti-Tea Party, and that (this is true) it had funneled millions into independent expenditutes for "Tea Party candidates." Then O'Connor name-checked a critic of the project: L. Brent Bozell III, the president of the Media Research Center.* Collegio huffed that Bozell was a "hater" with "weird axes to grind."

Collegio, who's in his early 30s, appeared to be using "hater" the way people in their early 30s use it. But Bozell joined a coalition of 24 conservatives—some obscure (Angelo M. Codevilla, author of a book that was endorsed by Rush Limbaugh during the height of the Tea Party) and some famous (Ginni "wife of Clarence" Thomas). All of them had an interest in looking like anti-Roves.

Dear Mr. Law,
We, the free men and women of this great nation, affirm everyone’s natural right to speak their mind, but we cannot and will not abide the unjust, personal broadside your aide Jonathan Collegio leveled against a man whose family has dedicated itself to advancing the cause of liberty for over half a century.
This morning Mr. Collegio attacked L. Brent Bozell, III and labeled him as a “hater” twice in an interview.  His attack was not grounded in reason or principle; its justification was nothing more than disagreement with your newly formed organization. 
Mr. Bozell is what we call in our movement a “legacy.” He has devoted his life to the cause of American conservatism as did his father, Brent Bozell II, who wrote “Conscience of a Conservative” for Barry Goldwater.
Maybe you’ve heard of Brent’s uncle, Bill Buckley, whose words you misquote and twist as the basis for your organization enough to falsely suggest you know something about him.   
You may have heard of his other uncle, Jim Buckley, a former U.S. Senator, or Brent’s mother, Patricia Buckley Bozell—both important figures and writers in our conservative movement.
Ronald Reagan often saluted the contributions of the Bozell and Buckley families to the cause of American conservatism.
Mr. Collegio calling Mr. Bozell a “hater” publicly on WMAL radio this morning reflects the language of the establishment Republicans. It is the divisive language of the Left.
Rather than engaging in an intellectual debate, you, Mr. Collegio, Mr. Rove, and others in the consultant class attack good conservatives and Tea Party leaders and members.
On behalf of the conservative movement, we are demanding you terminate Mr. Collegio.  An apology is not acceptable.
American Crossroads and the so-called Conservative Victory Project have already been severely marginalized.  The sheer audacity of political consultants maligning a beloved and critically important player in American history is simply a bridge too far.
You obviously mean to have a war with conservatives and the Tea Party.
Let it start here.

What is the next stage in the "war"? Why, more fundraising letters, on both sides!

*Personal bias: I sat next to Bozell at a Greg Lake concert and obviously like the guy.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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