Karl Christian Rove oozed into Bend last week. You probably didn’t hear about it because—even though Rove, as architect of the lamentable political career of George W. Bush, is a pretty important figure in 21st century history—his visit didn’t draw any media attention. He made no public appearances, gave no speeches, kissed no babies—luckily for the babies.Turdblossom (to borrow Bush’s affectionate nickname for him) did, however, find time to have a cozy chat with certain local and regional Republican politicians at the Oxford Hotel downtown.
Now, one might think that, as the brains behind the man regarded by many historians as The. Worst. President. Ever., a man whose presidency (just to hit some of the high spots) brought us the bloodiest terrorist attack in American history, an unnecessary war that was based on faked evidence and cost more than 4,000 American lives, and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, Turdblossom would be about as welcome a presence among Republicans as … well, a turd in a punchbowl.
Not so. Rove has remained an influential figure as a consultant, commentator and money-raiser. And when he showed up in Bend, prominent local Republicans were quite happy to snuggle up to him.
US Rep. Greg Walden, state Reps. Gene Whisnant and Jason Conger, and state Senate candidate Tim Knopp all made the scene. Most interestingly to us, four members of the Bend City Council also attended: Mayor Jeff Eager, Kathie Eckman, Tom Greene and Scott Ramsey.
Their presence piqued our interest for a couple of reasons. First, it’s against Oregon law for a quorum of city councilors (that means four or more) to get together and discuss city business unless the meeting is open to the public and proper notice is given in advance. Eager assured us the four councilors who met with Rove didn’t say anything about city business, but still the whole deal has an unsavory aura. In fact, Eager said that if he’d known a quorum would be present he would’ve had city staff put out a public notice.
Second, the city council supposedly is non-partisan, so how come only the four Republican councilors were at the Rove wingding? Two of the three others – Jim Clinton and Mark Cappell – told us they weren’t even aware of it. The third, Jodie Barram, said she heard about it but wasn’t invited.
Finally, the meeting shows the extent to which local Republican politicians are in lockstep with the right wing of their party. They’re not only drinking the Kool-Aid, they’re slathering it on like cologne. And to a great many Central Oregonians, Republicans and Democrats alike, the fragrance of Eau de Turdblossom isn’t pleasant.
We don’t question the right of any American, whether an elected public official or not, to associate with whoever he or she chooses. But why do it on the sneak, behind closed doors? Maybe that’s the way Rove prefers to operate, but voters deserve more candor from the people who represent them, or aspire to. And that’s why all of them are getting THE BOOT.