Former Trustee Conrad Black
Former Trustee David Radler
Yesterday I had a big surprise. I received an invitation to a reception and dinner from the far right wing Fraser Institute, the Calgary Herald's think tank of choice. The event will be held on September 24th at a tony downtown Calgary Art Gallery. The guests will be treated to a lecture by Karl Rove.
Rove, you will recall, until last year was the loyal and faithful servant of President George W. Bush. He served as the President's Deputy Chief of Staff, and headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. Despite these lofty positions he has been described as 'Bush's Brain,' - not exactly a complement. In fact, Rove is a university dropout. He did attend university for a time - long enough to get draft deferrals until the draft ended in June of 1973.
His boss the President, showing the privileged and Ivy League class for which he is so famous, calls him 'Turd Blossom.' For his part, Rove describes the President as "one of the most intellectually gifted presidents we've had."
Throughout the greater part of Bush II's political career as Governor of Texas and President of the United States, Rove has been his closest political advisor. Thus he has been in on all of the great decisions - like going to war in Iraq and the public misinformation initiative that was its foundation, the woeful lack of preparation for rebuilding Iraq after the invasion, paying little more than lip-service to the war against the Taliban, the feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, public policy that has brought about the near bankruptcy of the United States, the wink-wink approach to torture and rendition, and foreign policy that resulted in the plummeting of American influence throughout the world. And that is only a partial list of the catastrophes of the Bush II years.
Rove's political gifts however, are not something to sneer at. He is an expert in smear tactics and dirty tricks. Rove the draft dodger has been given credit for labelling 1972 Democratic candidate for President George McGovern as a "left-wing peacenik" notwithstanding McGovern's stellar World War II service as a B-24 pilot. Rove has been accused of masterminding a telephone poll to voters in the Texas Gubernatorial contest between Bush II and Democrat Ann Richards, wherein the people being polled were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for Richards if they knew that her staff was 'dominated by lesbians.'
He has been accused of doing the same thing in the 2000 Republican Primary in South Carolina, a contest between George W. Bush and John McCain. The telephone pollsters asked the question if they were more or less likely to vote for John McCain for president 'if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child."
During his long stint at the President's side, Rove had been up to his neck in other allegations -like being instrumental in the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative, dismissing U.S. federally appointed attorneys for failing to prosecute democrats, and being involved in the 'swiftboating' of John Kerry's military service during the Viet Nam war.
So Mr. Rove is the guest speaker at the dinner to which I was invited. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. If I were to go it is not for free. Tickets are $500 per individual, $900 per couple and $5000 for a table of ten. Mr. Rove does not come cheap these days. However, probably unbeknownst to the Fraserites in Toronto, he comes cheaper in Calgary. On September 23 in Toronto, the Bay Street Harperite cheerleaders will pay $700 for one ticket, $1300 a couple and $7000 for a table of ten. I guess the recent downturn of oil prices from $150 a barrel to $120 or so prompted the better Calgary deal.
The Fraser Institute is a registered charity with Revenue Canada. It is a rabid proponent of competitive markets, less government spending and regulation, less gun restrictions, more privatisation of government services and more private medicine. It opposes government involvement in global warming. Two of its illustrious former members of its Board of Trustees are Conrad Black and David Radler formerly of Hollinger fame, and presently indisposed. The current Board is comprised primarily of Canadian captains of industry, past and present. Among speakers at Institute functions in the coming months are former Socred Preston Manning, fallen Premier Ralph Klein, failed magazine publisher Ezra Levant, and Harper eminence grise Tom Flanagan. Just so you know.
As for me, I'm skipping the Rove banquet.