April 15, 2005


TELEVISION REVIEW | 'KARL ROVE - THE ARCHITECT': Tracking the Ambitions of a Political Adviser (VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN, 4/12/05, NY Times)

"Karl Rove - The Architect," a documentary on PBS tonight, spins a story of astounding stupidity out of a career it insists is among the most influential in American politics. This is unpardonable. To hint at so much intrigue without dramatizing any of it - by hardly offering evidence - is a dereliction of duty; it suggests that even the most tendentious account of Mr. Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, as a redeemer or a rascal might have done his story greater justice.

In harmony with dark synthesizer chords, the narrator speaks in haunted tones about Mr. Rove's "40-year plan to remake the American political landscape." (Mr. Rove is 54.) Talking heads confirm that "Karl Rove wants a permanent Republican majority," "His hand was in all of it," and - more scare chords - "He's the god inside the machine."

He sure sounds terrifying. And indeed, we do learn (shield the kids) that Mr. Rove, from an early age, was a Republican. He liked politics. And he worked to get Republicans elected.

Really, it's chilling.

Pervaded by interviews with reporters from The Washington Post, which joins "Frontline" in presenting the documentary, the program takes its title from Mr. Bush's 2004 victory speech, in which he thanked various advisers, including "the architect, Karl Rove." This workaday figure of speech is treated as an all-revealing slip of the tongue, and the movie goes into overdrive trying to make architecture seem sinister.

Here things get especially comical. Ham-handed still lifes of an architect's paraphernalia - including blueprints, compasses, graph paper - appear as a metonym for the title character. These arrangements are an embarrassment to documentary filmmaking.

The Wife said it was just appalling, and she's always right.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2005 9:06 AM

It was worse then appalling. Looked like something the DNC would produce as an infomercial.

Posted by: BJW at April 15, 2005 3:22 PM