When I saw that Karl Rove had said that Chris Christie’s handling of the bridge-closing scandal would give “him some street cred with some tea party Republicans” and essentially proved that he had the right qualities to be president, I wasn’t just reminded that Rove was the main architect of the U.S. Attorney dismissal scandal (that Christie somehow escaped). I was also reminded of an experience reporter Ron Suskind had when he went to the White House to interview Rove. He wrote about it in Esquire back in January of 2003.
Eventually, I met with Rove. I arrived at his office a few minutes early, just in time to witness the Rove Treatment, which, like LBJ’s famous browbeating style, is becoming legend but is seldom reported. Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston, said he’d be just a minute. She’s very nice, witty and polite. Over her shoulder was a small back room where a few young men were toiling away. I squeezed into a chair near the open door to Rove’s modest chamber, my back against his doorframe.
Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. “We will f*ck him. Do you hear me? We will f*ck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever f*cked him!” As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. “Come on in.” And I did. And we had the most amiable chat for a half hour.
This, I imagine, is much like the phone call (or meeting) that Chris Christie made that drove his deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly to initiate the plot to close the Fort Lee access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Whether the idea was to get a piece of the Hudson Lights luxury development in Fort Lee, as Steve Kornacki proposed on his program this morning, or it was retaliation for the blockage of Supreme Court nominees, as Rachel Maddow has speculated, or it was for some unknown reason, it is very clear that those lanes were not closed because of the lack of an endorsement, or without Christie’s rage being the cause.
Karl Rove can obviously relate.