The man known as “Bush’s Brain” doesn’t like the recent healthcare legislation, global warming or Moleskine notebooks. What he does like is the Internet, attractive women and being told he is beautiful.
Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s ’68 chief political advisor, shared these opinions, and many more, with hundreds of members of the Yale community at a Yale Political Union debate Tuesday night.
Rove’s speech, on the resolution “Repeal ObamaCare,” (in reference to the healthcare act signed into law March 23), drew a crowd that filled the Law School Auditorium to a maximum capacity of 515 and began to form at least an hour before the debate began. Law School Associate Dean Mike Thompson said between 200 and 300 people had to be turned away from the event instead of being moved to overflow rooms because Rove would not allow audio or visual recordings.
Those who made it into the auditorium heard Rove punctuate his speech with jokes and one-liners, eliciting equal parts laughter, applause and hisses.
He referred to the YPU as “barbarian illuminati” and “elks and lions,” and told the members of the Tory Party in the audience that he hopes they all become investment bankers. And after Progressive Party chairman Jordan Walker ’13 said the progressives were like the guest speaker in that “Mr. Rove has beauty,” Rove stood up, took a small bow, and then walked over and planted a large kiss on Walker’s forehead.
“If you were only 20 years older and an attractive woman,” Rove remarked to Walker later.
Budding bromances aside, Rove had several other revelations about his venue and audience.
“I have never before been in a group that was so obviously and clearly pretentious,” he said at the start of his speech. “Do you know how I knew it was pretentious? Moleskines!” he said leaning over to the table in front of the YPU president Conor Crawford ’12 and picking up two of the notebooks. “The president of the Yale Political Union has two black Moleskines! Oh, I’m sorry, a red one! How appropriate is that?”
The room erupted into applause and laughter in response — only the first of many times Rove brought the room to a standstill with a one-liner.
Later, when quoting statistics on the number of Americans who were uninsured before the healthcare law passed, Rove noted that the numbers could all be found online — and accordingly thanked former Vice President Al Gore for inventing the World Wide Web. But Rove also had some criticism for Gore.
“The Internet was way better than that other thing he came up with,” he said. “Global warming.”
Rove did not reserve the lampooning for his political opponents: He dispelled rumors that copies of Bush’s forthcoming memoir will include crayon packets.
The remainder of Rove’s speech, though, focused on policy and his criticism of the healthcare act, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he repeatedly called “a fraud” and accused it of being “unaffordable, unsustainable and bad for America.” Rove said the bill, in addition to driving up the cost of insurance and dissuading talented people from joining the healthcare profession, will negatively affect the quality of patient care. He said the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has already started rejecting Medicare patients because it is not cost-effective to accept them.
Instead of the PPACA, Rove said the United States government “should have solved [the healthcare problem] in a bipartisan way” that also makes strides toward medical liability reform — an issue he said was virtually unaddressed by the PPACA.
When the House of Representatives passed the PPACA on March 21 with of a vote of 219– 212, all 178 Republicans voted against it.