“Rove hates me,” Barack Obama once confided to adviser Valerie Jarrett, according to a new book by Republican strategist Karl Rove that portrays the president as a “nasty and condescending” hypocrite who “plays fast and loose with the facts.”
Rove, who was the top political strategist to former President George W. Bush, uses his memoir, “Courage and Consequence,” to settle some scores with Obama, including a shot that Obama once took at Rove in his own memoir, “The Audacity of Hope.” Specifically, Obama accused Rove and fellow conservatives Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist in the 2006 book of declaring, “We are a Christian nation.”
“I certainly don’t believe and have never said, ‘We are a Christian nation,’” Rove insisted in “Courage,” which is scheduled for publication next week. “What happened to the Jews? The Muslims? The Hindus? The Buddhists? The skeptics and nonbelievers?”
Rove, now a Fox News contributor, said he confronted Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, about the quotation during a chance encounter in the White House cafeteria. According to Rove, Obama initially denied attributing the quote to Rove, who then showed Obama the page in question.
“He looked surprised and began insisting he really wasn’t saying what he had quoted me as saying,” Rove wrote in “Courage,” which will be released Tuesday. “After a few moments, the conversation drew to an awkward and unsatisfactory conclusion; he was unwilling to acknowledge the mistake or apologize. It seemed to me he didn’t much care that he had attributed to me something I had never said and found offensive.”
Later, at the 2008 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Rove and Jarrett were guests at the table of Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham.
“Jarrett e-mailed Obama on her BlackBerry to let him know she was breaking bread with Satan himself,” Rove recalled. “He e-mailed her back and Jarrett made the mistake of showing Jon and me his reply, which was ‘Rove hates me.’ I knew Senator Obama was alluding to our run-in over the passage in his book. I asked Jarrett to tell him I wasn’t in the habit of hating people.”
This was not the only score Rove settled with Obama.
“Though we didn’t discuss it in our West Wing encounter, Obama also went on in his book to describe me and other conservatives as ‘eerily reminiscent of some of the New Left’s leaders during the sixties,’ who ‘viewed politics as a contest not just between competing policy visions, but between good and evil,’” Rove wrote.
“Now, that’s rich, isn’t it?” he marveled. “The last time I checked, I hadn’t bombed any government buildings (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).”