Me and Mr. Rove
From the way that the media reports on Karl Rove, you’d think he was the equivalent of Joseph Goebbels, a propagandizing monster, whispering insidious deeds into President Bush’s ear and spinning his web left and right. I’m a Rove fan from the Bush years. I never bought the hype about him being some sort of evil, devious character. If you know me, you know I’m not one to follow the sway of public opinion. Were that true, my time in liberal academia would have long ago turned me into a left-winger. If I like something, I like it completely independent of what others say (though sometimes I am introduced to something new by others). Same goes for NOT liking something or someone. I’ve watched Mr. Rove in interviews and always respected his views (as a fellow conservative), loyalty to our 43rd president, and strength of character as he faced off with some of the worst offenders in the liberal media. He *seemed* like a nice guy, but one never knows until one comes face-to-face with someone.
Wednesday afternoon, I took a spin up to Babies R Us to add one more item to my registry (yes, in case you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, Aaron and I are expecting). After a quick jaunt through that busy store with oh-so-tempting goodies for me to buy for our little son, I decided to go get a drink at Borders Books next door. I had just been up to Barnes and Noble the day before to purchase Chelsea Handler’s new book with my 40% off coupon, and debated on whether to grab a copy of Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. I decided that maybe one book this week was enough and that perhaps I ought to wait till his book had a bigger discount. My trip to Borders on Wednesday, however, seems to have been somewhat serendipitous. Immediately upon walking in, there was a huge Karl Rove book display (40% off, no less) with a sign saying there would be a book signing on Saturday. I was intrigued. I picked up the book, still debating on buying it, and read the first few pages. Needless to say, I was riveted.
I grabbed a copy and went up to the register. I was asked if I planned on attending the book signing, and said I wasn’t sure. 5 1/2 months pregnant with lupus is no time to be standing in some long line even if it is to meet someone I admire. The woman assured me that a purple wristband would get me into the first group of people to get my book signed, so I agreed, took the band, and started racking my brain for people to take with me. I thought of my dad, but knew he was a busy guy. Weekends, especially. He and my mom spend those days running errands and having fabulous lunches together. So, I called my friend, Christine, with whom I had gone to the McCain/Palin ’08 campaign rally. It wasn’t to be: Christine had yoga that day.
When I arrived home, I told my mom about it. She was excited for me (and I think she wanted to go, too), but she had plans with some of my baby shower planners to do invites that day. She thought I should take my dad, mentioning that it would be a great 50th b-day gift. OF COURSE! I hadn’t known WHAT to get my dad for this auspicious occasion, but what could be more perfect than a book by a conservative we both like AND a trip to meet him and have the book SIGNED? I quickly went to find Dad and asked him of his plans for Saturday. LONG story short (and I apologize for the length), I ended up driving back up to Borders that afternoon to grab a second copy. Conveniently, I also got another purple wristband for Dad’s 50th b-day.
After much anticipation, Saturday finally arrived. It was a dreary day, windy, rainy–just all around gross outside. Not the type of weather you want to go out in. Dad and I got up to Borders around 11:10; the signing was at noon. We browsed the store (like my father, I can spend long periods of time perusing the shelves and discovering new and exciting books that I just HAVE to read) and awaited the announcement for everyone to start lining up for the signing. The store wasn’t too crazy when we arrived, but it quickly filled up. At around 11:45, they manager asked everyone with purple bands to meet at the front of the store and then herded us through a winding maze of shelves back toward the podium from which Mr. Rove would be signing our books.
As we waited in line, surrounded by somewhat like-minded conservatives, Dad in his Harley jacket and I in my newsboy cap and vest, we were approached by a smallish older woman wearing glasses and a rain jacket. She was accompanied by her young assistant. She turned out to be Jo-Ann Greene from the Sunday News. With a wry smile she asked politely if she could ask us a few questions. We said that would be fine. I was thinking, “This should be interesting.”
With pen and steno pad in hand, she asked us why we had come out to the signing. “Why Karl Rove?,” essentially. As I spoke, she furiously scribbled down my words, or so I tought. I responded, “I think it’s interesting to get an inside perspective on the Bush Administration.” She smiled, hearing what she wanted to hear, and pressed for more. I followed with, “It seems Karl Rove would be the right person for that.” She asked for my name and then turned to my dad to find out why he was there. He smiled and said, “Basically the same.” She asked for his name. “Dan,” he replied. She asked, “Townsley?” Dad: “No, Coon, this is my daughter.” Then I piped up and said, “I bought him the book for his 50th birthday gift.” She jotted that down, thanked us for our time, and walked away. As soon as I heard that she was a reporter, I had a feeling I would be misquoted. I barely said anything as she hardly asked us anything. I, however, instinctively knew what she was looking for and I didn’t think my words fit her template.
Finally, Karl Rove arrived. The press got first crack at him. They all stood up there smiling and laughing with Karl as the rest of us stood in line, anxiously awaiting our turn to talk to “The Architect.” He was running slightly behind, though not terribly so, and we all really wanted to get up there to meet him. I grasped my book standing on my tip-toes believing I’d only have five seconds to see him as he signed my book. I wanted to see all I could before the moment was gone.
Sometime during the time we waited, Mom arrived at the store to meet us, and came to grab my coat from me. After carrying that through the store for over an hour, my pregnant, lupus-filled body was tired and I needed to unload the only thing I was carrying besides my book.
Then, slowly, the line began to move forward. “We’re moving now!” someone excitedly said behind us. We were only the 10th and 11th people in line, but it still felt like we’d been waiting a long time (especially stuck waiting in the Sci-fi book section–boring!). What initially struck me about Karl was that he actually came over to meet everyone. He wasn’t sitting at a table waiting for people to come to him. Instead, he stood at a podium and walked the 5 feet over to meet each and every one of us. When it was my turn, he came over with a warm smile and stuck his hand out to me. I shook his hand and spoke first, “Hi Karl.” Perhaps it was bold of me, but I didn’t want him to have to introduce himself yet again. He said, “Hello, what’s your name?” I said, “Jessica Townsley.” To which he replied, “Jessica, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” and he took my book and guided me over to the podium. Before he turned his attention from me to the book, I said (pointing to my baby bump), “I’m carrying a little conservative baby in here.” He smiled the biggest smile and said, “Oh, wonderful! When are you due?” Me: “July 23rd.” Karl (with a warm smile): “Congratulations, Jessica. And remember, all the cliches are true!” I was so taken aback by his genuine kindness that I nearly walked away before I heard him say, “Here, why don’t we get a picture?” And yes, the photographer took a picture of me–5 1/2 months pregnant with my son–smiling happily and proudly, next to Karl Rove.
Dad was next in line and nearly didn’t get his picture taken. They called him back to make sure he got one after waiting in line like that. As I said, these people–all of those involved from Karl and his staff, to the store manager and employees–were so kind. Once the event photography website posts pics, I will be certain to share them. Below are some shots from the event that I nabbed with my little camera phone. Also a picture of my signed book 🙂
UPDATE: Yes, Dad and I were mentioned in the short story in the Sunday News paper. And, as expected, I was misquoted. I actually think this makes for a better story. I feel as though I am an official “conservative in the fight” now. It’s a badge of honor. A right of passage. If you’ll recall, I said, “It’s interesting to get an inside perspective…” I was quoted as looking for “insider knowledge.” Perhaps this is a minor quibble. However, if you’ll think for a moment, you’ll begin to understand the difference between the definitions of the word perspective versus the word knowledge. I was and am looking for perspective. But the reporter heard the somewhat more insidious sounding “insider knowledge.” As though I take anyone’s perspective as FACT.
It’s interesting that a reporter would confuse a word meaning “point of view” with a word meaning “facts or information.” But, as we know, “journalists” often confuse the two, intermingling their own point of view with the actual facts. At least they got the “50th birthday gift” part correct. You can read the “riveting” (and I use sarcastic quote marks) piece from Jo-Ann Greene here: Right-Hand Man Meets Left, Right (That link has since “expired”, here’s a new one as of 11-24-10). In the print edition, there’s a huge picture of the massive crowd of six protesters who stood in the rain with their hateful signage. That picture is the biggest one The Sunday News posted from the event, and it’s at the top of the page. Typical. But, hey, I say God bless them! The First Amendment is a beautiful thing. Let freedom ring!
And as always, ASAP, my friends!