The Devil Wore an Orange Tie

Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday. I haven’t come up with a decent costume since the early 1980s, when I went to a Halloween party dressed up as Sue Ellen Ewing and shot a J.R. impersonator (my husband, of course) with a cap pistol. He collapsed on the floor and the party hostess almost had a coronary.

Also, the day’s kind of taken a nosedive ever since our kids grew up and stopped trick-or-treating. This means I’ve been robbed of the opportunity to order them to bed and rifle through their stashes of candy; nobody appreciated peanut butter cups as much as I did, I always figured.

This year, though, we had an exciting Halloween premise. Karl Rove, the legendary Bush operative, was speaking to a monthly club we belong to. Karl Rove! Good grief. How scary could you get?

So we showed up and he spoke after dinner. As advertised, he’s physically unprepossessing — pale, stocky, balding. The only thing that stood out was his pumpkin-orange tie. Then he started to talk. It was like entering bizarro world, where black became white, evil morphed into good, gravity yanked you skyward, the earth tilted precariously. Forget the peanut butter cups, baby. Where, oh where, was the valium?

As you might not have suspected, Rove really and truly was rooting for Barack Obama to succeed, since he was our first African-American president and therefore historic. Unfortunately, Obama has disappointed him — and let Karl count the ways. The ineffective stimulus! The rampant partisanship and complete disregard for the goodwill of Republicans in Congress! The deficit! The economy!

Eventually, Rove wound down and questions were asked. Patterns emerged in his lengthy answers. Democrats did bad things. Republicans — with the exception of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — did not. Deregulation? Started with the Democrats. War in Iraq minus weapons of mass destruction? Democrats saw the same WMD intelligence the White House did — and, anyway, wasn’t getting rid of Saddam Hussein worth it?

Some audience members booed and hissed. At the table where I was sitting, my friend Sandra and I went from grotesque facial contortions to mutters and hisses.

“Have some common courtesy!” the woman at the next table said to me.

“But he and the Bush Administration ruined our country,” I tried to explain helpfully.

The questions ended, the booing and hissing stopped, one man thanked Karl Rove for his talk and his service to his country, and some people applauded. Today, there is an ongoing controversy as to whether the audience behaved badly.

My personal view is that Karl Rove and his fellow Bush henchmen acted reprehensibly for eight years. They commandeered a disastrous administration that wasted tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars on a war of choice, benefited only the rich, and squandered the opportunity to inspire and better this nation in the wake of 9/11. I had to live through two terms of their arrogant and disastrous incompetence — but I didn’t have to sit on my hands to hear it defended and others disparaged.

Not to be nit-picky, but I would also like to mention that since Karl Rove loves the word imprimatur so much that he uses it repeatedly, he might want to check its proper pronunciation.

Halloween. Ghouls and monsters. A bad guy who clearly views himself as a patriot and a hero. Nothing but tricks. I’m still waiting for the treats.

(Copyright 2011 by Ruth Pennebaker)


Please read one of my favorite posts, Just for Today, I am Pat Robertson

26 comments… add one
  • Sandra Wilkie Link

    I’m famous as a hisser with a hissy

  • Mark Link

    Groucho said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” While that may be good advice, I refuse to join any club that would have Karl Rove for a member. That man is truly, unrepentantly evil. I feel your pain. And if he had stopped by Monday night, we would not have given him candy.

  • At least you got to not vote for them. For us out here in the rest of the world, we just got to look on and hope they didn’t pick on us next. (I have to say we were pretty safe as these things go but who knew!)

    viv in nz

  • Cindy A Link

    If I believed in an Anti-Christ, Karl Rove would be it. Good idea to check out the opposition rhetoric, but I wouldn’t put myself through the pain of it!

  • Well, I hope you at least had some alcohol to help you through the night.

  • Sheryl Link

    Wish I could have been there! Had to be way more entertaining and better than any Halloween party or any peanut butter cups.

  • Susan Link

    I usually enjoy dressing up for Halloween but this year I was just too busy and stressed to plan a costume. In a very Scrooge-like move, I left the outside lights turned off and hoped we wouldn’t get any trick or treaters (we didn’t). Hopefully next year I’ll come up with a great idea for a costume and get back into the Halloween spirit!

  • I wouldn’t have been able to sit through it. I dislike this man thoroughly.

  • Sure hope dinner was good to make up for the pain, but hey, you got a good blog post out of it!

  • I would have liked to have been there to see you explaining the situation to that “shusher” next to you. Priceless!

  • This just made me spit iced tea all over my computer screen … >>Not to be nit-picky, but I would also like to mention that since Karl Rove loves the word imprimatur so much that he uses it repeatedly, he might want to check its proper pronunciation.<<

    Thanks for the laugh.

    I don't believe I would attend a Rove event, but I do enjoy Stephen Colbert's "ham Rove," where he simply puts a pair of glasses on a canned ham.

  • You had me at the first paragraph, and great ending. Thanks for the laughs.

  • The fact that you made it through his speech without the fake cap gun is commendable. 🙂

  • I loved the way you told this story. I salute you for being able to sit through Karl Rove. I would have bolted.

  • M.K. Link

    I knew there was some reason I liked you. Besides your beautiful writing, of course.

  • Ha! And here I thought my Halloween was interesting.

  • Craig Link

    Let’s see… wasn’t Karl Rove one of the people Hank Williams Jr had Hitler playing golf with?

  • You know, he knows your town is liberal. He knew what he was getting into when he came. Like if Obama gave a speech in the reddest part of a red state, I’m guessing boo-ing would be the least of his worries. Karl got off lucky.

  • Patricia N Link

    I don’t know if I could have tolerated the event. You give me hope, though, that there are still normal, sane people in my home state of Texas. Uh, not counting Rick Perry…
    Thanks for another great post!

  • OMG, this was hilarious! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. You are an exceptional writer. I am so happy I stumbled on your blog. I would have been right there with you hissing and booing up a storm!

  • This is very sweetly satisfying — THANK YOU for denying common courtesy” from the discourteous a**hole responsible for the unspeakably arrogant “Mission Accomplished” sign and for helping Bush trash the American economy and ensure the deaths of thousands of deaths in Iraq, etc. etc. How lucky for us that Karl found himself in YOUR company that evening!

  • It’s interesting that the debate has focused on whether the audience was ill-behaved; one could ask a host of other questions, such as why it’s okay for someone who’s left as much disaster, damage and disgrace in his wake to be pocketing speaker’s fees and standing on a podium tossing blame at others? I think you did well to remain quiet as long as you did!

  • Courtesy is not due such monsters. Thank you for this post.

  • That’s one truly scary Halloween. How brave of you.

  • Phil Brandt Link

    Re “The Devil Wore an Orange Tie” : I’m guessing that Eckerd College is not a “finishing school”; otherwise you would’ve instinctively known that, regardless of the cutesy excuses you foist on the reader to rationalize your publicly demonstrated distaste for Karl Rove and the Bush administration, you, your friend, and apparently many other upscale attendees were acting boorishly. But then that’s the type unseemly behavior many of us in the surrounding “sea of red” have come to expect from the inhabitants of the “blue island” that is Central/West Austin.

  • leigh mcmillan Link

    Ruth –

    Please weigh in on Botoxed Ann Romney, please! Her comment that her sons taught her straight talk, and that’s a lesson daughters could not have taught her has me yearning for your insight!


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