WHEN FORMING theories of conspiracy, as I’ve written before, it’s important to remember the words of John A. Bingham, the special judge advocate who investigated the Lincoln assassination: “A conspiracy is rarely, if ever, proved by positive testimony. Unless one of the original conspirators betrays his companions and gives evidence against them, their guilt can be proved only by circumstantial evidence.”
With that caveat in mind, I’d like to examine the latest conspiracy theory, which I hereby dub Rove Hack. The allegations, which crossed my desk via a post by Samuel Warde on the Liberals Unite website called “Did Anonymous Block Karl Rove’s Attempt to Steal the Election?”, are as follows:
Karl Rove invested some of the whopping $105 million he raised from secret donors via his American Crossroads SuperPAC in voting-machine-rigging technology that would ensure a Romney victory, no matter how many votes the GOP candidate actually received. The “hacktivist” group Anonymous got wind of this plot and unleashed the full force of its vigilante might to disable Rove’s feeble programs, ensuring the proper result.
What’s so delicious about this particular conspiracy is that it’s one of the precious few where the nefarious forces of darkness are defeated. The good guys won! Which, sadly, is an argument against it being true.
Nevertheless, there are elements of the story that check out.
In October, a left-leaning activist group called Velvet Revolution posted on its website a $100,000 reward for evidence of election rigging. Around the same time, Anonymous released a video warning Karl Rove not to interfere with the election. In mid-November, after Obama’s victory, Velvet Revolution received a letter from “The Protectors,” an Anonymous splinter group, claiming that they had disrupted Rove’s attempt to rig the election, and explaining, in tech-speak, what they had done.
As Bingham noted, allegations like this are impossible to prove without a whistleblower. But there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that Rove Hack is real.
1. It’s the polls, stupid.
Nate “Hi Ho” Silver of the New York Times, the walking Revenge of the Nerds movie, nailed the election, predicting the correct result in all 50 states. His methodology included what was referred to as his “special sauce,” but it’s not like Silver was privy to inside information—he was looking at the same polls everyone else was. How could Silver have been so right, when the entire GOP, which claimed to be working from their own mysterious polling data, was totally, egregiously wrong?
Plenty of liberal columnists blamed this on groupthink—FOX News fell for its own lies!—and this is likely true. That network has a way of bringing anyone who joins its ranks down to its lowly level, as a study of Charles “Sith Lord” Krauthammer’s Washington Post archives pre- and post-FOX News will demonstrate. But it may also be that the many GOP pundits who predicted a Romney romp were, knowingly or otherwise, creating cover for Rove Hack. If both right and left forecast re-election for the president, a Romney victory would have seemed that much more suspect, and thus more likely to be investigated. For Rove’s plan to work, he needed the GOP to predict a big win for his guy.
2. Romney thought he would win.
Remember how long it took him to concede? Remember how he was supposed to not even have prepared a concession speech, and thus made America wait an hour before we could go to bed on Election Night? Wasn’t that fishy?
If there’s a takeaway from the night of November 6, it’s that Team Romney was, to a man, stunned at the result. The New Republic reports that after the results were in, Tagg “You’re It” Romney “looked like he was in a complete state of shock…[as if] these numbers cannot be real.” Could it be that Mittens thought he would win in the same way Arnold Rothstein thought the Reds would win the World Series in 1919?
3. Romney’s “blind” trust owns stock in a company that makes voting machines.
That would be Hart Intercivic, a company that built machines used to count votes in Colorado and, crucially, Ohio. (I’m sure you saw the clip of the machine that changed a vote from Obama to Romney.) As reported by the Free Press, that company is owned by another company that has a board of directors of Bain Capital cronies. This is not to suggest that the folks at Hart Intercivic would do such a dastardly deed; just that they could. Hey, it’s like like Ohio hasn’t been stolen before. Put it this way: if I were running for president, I would rather have Sean Beaudoin and Jennifer Kabat in charge of counting the votes than a bunch of strangers.
4. Karl Rove’s Election Night behavior on live TV.
This is the semen-stained blue dress of Rove Hack. On Election Night, Rove had a well-publicized freak-out on FOX News. With a quarter of the vote still uncounted, his network, along with The Associated Press and every other major news outlet, decided to call Ohio for President Obama. The decision to do this was explained ad nauseum on every station. CNN’s John King did a masterful job with his info-screen, informing us that although there were many votes still to be counted in Ohio, most of those votes were in the Cleveland area, and, demographically speaking, Romney had a better chance of taking Woodstock than Cleveland.
Karl Rove has been doing this a long time. Whatever his protests about not calling states until all the votes are counted, he must have known Ohio was lost. And yet he persisted. Why? It could be that he was a victim of his own spin—that, like O.J. Simpson, he repeated the lie often enough that he convinced himself it must be true. It could be that he was in grumpy denial—that he knew that he had a lot of angry billionaires to answer to after his epic fail on Election Day, and he’d go down a sore loser. Or it could be that he believed Romney would win Ohio because of voting machine rigging he’d help organize—and was shocked when his scheme succeeded about as well as something from Scooby Doo. I wonder which of these is the most likely?
Again, I am merely presenting the latest conspiracy theory. I’m not accusing Karl Rove of wrongdoing. I’m not saying it’s true. But, as Hemingway once wrote, isn’t it pretty to think so?