In the memoir’s final chapter, humbly titled “Rove: the Myth,” the architect of a two-term Republican presidency reports how angry he was when he read a passage in then-Sen. Barack Obama’s second book lumping him in with Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed as “conservative operatives” with “fiery rhetoric” like “No new taxes” or “We are a Christian nation.”
“I certainly don’t believe and have never said, ‘We are a Christian nation,’” writes Rove. “I put the offending page in my pocket and went about my business.” Later that day, he encountered Obama and fell victim to “feistiness,” challenging the senator for using “my name and the word ’said’ and quote marks.” Obama, Rove reports, blanched when the torn-out page was shown to him and tried to wriggle out of the conversation: “It seemed to me he didn’t much care that he had attributed to me something I had never said and found offensive.”
Four years later, Rove offers up the encounter as proof that Obama’s image as “the truest, purest proponent of a fresh new style of politics” is a ruse, and snarls that “the last time I checked, I hadn’t bombed any government building (like, say, Obama’s great friend William Ayers); or asked that God ‘damn’ America (like, say, Obama’s former pastor and close friend Jeremiah Wright); or declared that I was proud of my country for the first time in my life only when I was in my forties (like, say, Obama’s wife, Michelle).”
It’s a revealing passage — it takes up three whole pages — that demonstrates just how Rove thinks. Accused of being a steamrolling, divisive political operative, he locates a loophole in the argument, and closes by insulting the wife of the person who criticized him.