Rove and Nixon and Anne Armstrong and the Work Yet to Be Done

I did a post last year, not long after Dick Cheney shot an old man in the face, tracing the ties between the Armstrong family and Republican corruption. I showed how Anne Armstrong has been present at all the big-name Republican scandals going back to Watergate.

Anne Armstrong Event Associated Republican Scandal
1971-1973 RNC Co-Chair Watergate
1973-1974 Cabinet-level Counselor to Nixon and Ford Watergate
1976-1977 Ambassador to the UK Â
1980 Reagan-Bush Campaign Co-Chair October Surprise
1977-2000 Board Member, Halliburton Cheney commissions KBR to studyprivatization of military contracts (1991); Cheney named CEO Halliburton (1995)
1981-1990 Chair, Foreign IntelligenceAdvisory Board Iran-Contra
1981 Â Armstrongs fund Karl Rove + Company
1997 Texas A&M Regent George HW Bush Library opens atTAMU, 1997

(Later in the same post, I showed how Anne’s daughter Katharine, always seems to be present when Bush is pitching an illegal war.)

That post focused primarily on the long-term connections between Cheney and the Armstrong family, right through the days when Cheney launched Halliburton’s KBR unit onto the military gravy train. But the post noted, too, that the Armstrongs have been equally tight with Karl Rove over the years.

And apparently, one of the finds from the recently-released Nixon materials shows how far back this relationship goes.

Tucked away inside 78,000 pages of documents from the Nixon administration, released by the National Archives earlier this week, is a little gem: a strategy memorandum from the man who would go on to become the architect of President Bush’s rise to political power.

Mr. Rove, then a 22-year-old aide on Capitol Hill, was planning a run to become chairman of the College Republicans, a position he would ultimately win twice. So he wrote to Anne Armstrong, then counselor to Nixon. Mrs. Armstrong had been co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, and therefore Mr. Rove’s ultimate boss the previous year when he was executive director of the college group.

In the memorandum, he thanked her for “taking time out of your busy schedule” to talk with him, and offered up his musings — in the form of a nine-page typed outline — on how to strengthen the Republican Party by motivating students.

“Appreciate anything you might be able to do for me,” he wrote, on simple stationery with only his name, Karl C. Rove, at the top. “I have taken the liberty of enclosing the rough outline of my platform. Of special interest is the ‘New Federalism Advocates’ mentioned in the campaign section.”

The memo is, as Stollberg notes, a strategy document detailing the ways in which College Republicans can support larger RNC campaign efforts. But it also a strategy document laying out several initiatives–things that reek of Grover Norquist and wingnut welfare–that have been the key to recent Republican success. Rove talks about:

  • Professionalizing the College Republicans and earning legitimacy within the GOP
  • Requiring all Republicans to adopt “New Federalism” that advocates
    • Decentralization of Federal power
    • Limitation of federal power
    • Challenging the “proper role” of government
  • Developing Republican spokesmen within the academic community
  • Developing a “talent bank” to put on workshops within the academic community
  • Mobilizing college Republicans in “state legislature” schools to focus on state races
  • Providing training in “practical politics” (precinct training)
  • Developing materials to be distributed in college PoliSci classes to “place GOP oriented materials into student hands”

The memo lays out many initiatives that would professionalize the College Republicans and would spread wingnut welfare to campus efforts.

The memo is instructive not just because it traces Rove’s ties to Texas’ big money back over 30 years. A lot of these are things the Democrats still haven’t implemented. This is what it takes, folks.

  1. CityGirl says:

    Ahh, you beat me to it in your last line, EW. I was going to ask, can we mail this to the DNC??

  2. Boo Radley says:

    Great work emptywheel. Amazing/sad that Stollberg and her editors left out that Anne was armpit deep with Rover in attempting to cover up DeadEye shooting Harry.

  3. Anonymous says:


    She did mention that Armstrong owns the ranch where Deadeye Dick shot the old man–she just didn’t mention the cover-up. That’s typical for Stollberg. She has interviewed me twice, and I’ve laid out all the details of Cheney’s involvement in the CIA Leak both times. But instead she uses quotes from the Off the Record Club to the exclusion of anything critical of Cheney.

  4. SaltinWound says:

    This strikes me as the official platform. Rove’s true platform has always involved stealing elections at any cost, including his â€election†as head of the college Republicans.

  5. Mimikatz says:

    The connections are interesting, but in terms of where the Dems ought to be going, let’s not get mired in the past. The progressives have it all over the GOP in developing online organizations and fundraising. There are new, progressive campus organizations, but the Dems will never be top-down and shouldn’t try to be. More to the point is to move people into practical political (field) operations and give them support. And there need to be many more internships for young people who want to work on organiziong as well as policy.

    But we should never try to imitate the GOP; we should build on our atrengths and enhance truly progressive, networked institutions.

  6. orionATL says:

    mimikatz is right.

    we do NOT need to emulate the rnc or rove strategy, or bush, or mehlman, or armstrong, or lee atwater, or dick cheney.

    i’ll just point out that rove, bush, and cheney between them have nearly destroyed the republican party nationally in the last six years

    (which is a very good thing since we need both parties, and the republican party must purge itself of its racist/authoritarian/theologic members and leaders.)

    rove, et al. very clearly knowshow to wage political war

    but equally clearly have no sense at all of how to govern.

    i’ll also point out that the republican party since 1980 has become increasingly authoritarian and theologically oriented in order to win elections by even small percentages – theirs is not a recipe for success absent their political scheming.

    howard dean is providing the kind of organization and discipline the democratic party needs.

    what we need now is to get rid of those old dinosaurs in the party who cannot or will not speak out publicly


    who are incompetent public speakers.

    i am much more partial to drew westin’s ideas arguing for more passion in public speech

    than i am in george lakoff’s recipes for manipulating language and emotion.

  7. albert fall says:

    Dems have failed, individually and institutionally (now that they hold a Congressional majority) to mount clear and memorable responses to GOP attacks, or to articulate the value of Dem positions.

    That isn’t â€acting like Republicansâ€â€“it’s doing blocking and tackling, the basics.

  8. Anonymous says:

    albert — true, that, but there’s also another issue that we haven’t tackled. All the while the Republican Party was adopting the long-term program or system that Rove espoused, the same Republican Party was doing everything possible to denigrate public service by bad-mouthing any and all liberal and progressive public figures. Their push against government also made public service as a career or elected official to be rejected, yet they were grooming their own to step up into office, in contradiction to their push against government.

    In the mean time, we liberals/progressives failed to fill the pipeline; we failed to aggressively push back against the negative meme and praise service to the public in the government sphere. We abandoned government to these fascist monsters when we failed to ensure our very best people were fighting to become our representatives. When our best don’t serve and our mediocre step up by default…well, you can see for yourself.

    Public service must be promoted again, as it was by the example of the Kennedys: â€Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.â€

  9. says:

    the dems are hopeless. if they can’t mount anything in this current political atmosphere then they are toast.

  10. albert fall says:


    I appreciate your comment, and it mirrors a recent recognition of mine. I was spending time socially with a Republican who recited a number of times the Republican theme of â€government can’t work,†and I realized after the fact a few things about that theme:

    1. It’s wrong. Government, like any other human institution, can be made to work by dedicated individuals committed to making it work, rather than to making it fail. (Albeit, government success can be harder to measure than a commercial activity that either finds customers or does not).

    2. It is used by Republicans to excuse their failures.

    3. It is a dishonest version of what can be an honest Dem/Rep disagreement over scope of government.

    4. It is implicitly being used by Reps to justify their treating government and politics as a â€power grab†game between parties, rather than a requirement to the party in power to use government to benefit society through just regulation and thoughtful policy initiatives.

  11. P J Evans says:

    Government can’t work – when the people running it are lazy, incompetent, or criminal.
    Governmetn can’t work – when one party is determined to prevent it from working, whether by blocking attempts to improve it or by removing anyone who stands in their way.

    The Republicans, and this maladministration, have done everything they could do to convince people that government doesn’t work. They almost succeeded – that’s why people are mad at the government, because we know it isn’t supposed to be like that.

    We know what they’re doing, we’re pushing back, and we need to be able to get the story out to the rest of the country.

  12. freepatriot says:

    wait a minute …

    you’re telling me that the repuglican party finds itself on the edge of the cliff because of â€Long Term Thinking†???

    you’re sayin they PLANNED this ???

    how does that work

    we’re about to enter a two decade period where the Democratic Party dominates America’s political scene, and the repuglican party disappears into history’s trash heap

    george bush’s repuglican party has totally discredited and crippled conservatism for Generations

    and you’re saying this was the result of some â€Long Term Planning†???

    if that’s what â€Long Term Thinking†does for a political party, I’m glad the Democrats don’t do any â€Long Term Thinkingâ€

  13. marksb says:

    Yeah, â€Long Term Planning†is all fine and good.
    But these people, well most of them, can’t manage their way out of a paper bag.
    They can scheme and plan and turn some very dirty tricks.
    But to actually run an office or organization that isn’t turning those dirty tricks is W-A-Y beyond them.
    Thus, everything they touch turns to shit.

    Now my problem these days is the recurring theme that â€since the Democrats have taken control they’ve been unable to stop the war or do anything else…†and so on, repeated daily in the press and on the TeeVee. Ignoring the situation in the Senate, the strange unitary executive trip we’ve got to deal with, and the Cheney&Rove factors toward manipulating governmental offices.

    Plus we’ve got the whole presidential primary horse race with the associated focus-group-tested shallow position speeches…

    Well, it’s not a good way to create a revolutionary change to restore our country.

  14. Katie Jensen says:

    I see no problem with having well constructed and thought out long term goals and then a set of short term goals that lead to the long term goals. I no problem in this at all. I would also advise that the successful party is the one that gathers the first set of data from the american people instead of from corporations. If the democrats did a good job of finding out what is important to the average american and then did a good job of setting long term goals within a flexible framework, that would just be good strategy.

    However, the republican goals were not to meet the needs of the american people, ever. Those goals were establish to meet the needs of corporate america. Then the rebublican went along selling their plan like a stock portfolio.

    That’s the difference. The planning is always a good thing. It’s who you draw from for direction that causes problems. The republicans are where they are because they took their lead from corporate america. Corporate America is not America. It was not founded by our constitution and it’s only mission statement is to grab more of the gold and hence more of the power.

    I loved Moyers last night and it has generated a great discussion. I would like to see a show about the goals of americans, the true democratic like majority and how each party stacks up to meet these needs.

  15. zhiv says:

    Any criticism of the fact that the plan resulted in bad governing and widespread incompetence completely misses the point of this blueprint of the early steps to the repug permanent majority: follow the money. These people have made billions of dollars. Not just millions, billions, over this 40 year period and it has come to fruition in this administration and this war.

  16. Mimikatz says:

    They had a blueprint for taking power and, essentially, making us a One Party State.

    We don’t want that, but we do want power, both as a party (Dems) and within the Party. There’s nothing wrong with some long-term planning to acquire power to use it for the public good, and there will never be a shortage of ideas in the Dem Party how to use power when we get it.

    The idea of reinfusing public service with respect is great. I spent my entire working life as a public servant–high school teacher and then government lawyer, which isn’t surprising since Kennedy was elected during my freshman year of college. Public service ought still to be attractive (1) because of the benefits and (2) because of the opportunity to work for others and for the public good. But that requires countering the â€me†culture that has taken such hold.

    (See my posts last summber on the common good ).

    Of course government can work–who built the railroads and the interstates and educated and housed the generation who fought WWII–for that matter, who won that war? Individuals in all cases, but under the guiding hand and the financing of the government. The post WWII government built the middle class, and the Republicans and their elitist allies in the Dem party like the Clintons and Robert Rubin have been undoing it ever since 1981.

  17. Tross says:

    â€we’re about to enter a two decade period where the Democratic Party dominates America’s political scene, and the repuglican party disappears into history’s trash heapâ€

    They planned to make a lot of money off the backs of the poor and middle classes — I’d say they achieved they’re goal. They don’t care about our opinion of how they govern, as long as their â€brethren†are happy.

  18. Jodi says:

    Look, people on both (or all) sides, do this all the time. We could go through and make list of lists that most prominent people in Government have made for plans concerning the future.

    Nothing new there. The only time it is instructive or significant is when it is publicized, advertised, and it works, like with that older guy from Georgia, Newt Gingrich.

  19. radiofreewill says:

    We need to appeal to the ’Rule of Law’ Republicans – that’s our common ground, the Rule of Law.

    We know they’re out there – Fitzgerald, Comey, Walton – there have to be many, many more.

    Those folks didn’t make the cut, either. They are getting left behind by the Rapture of the BushWorld Elites, just like US.

    It’s the Rule of Law versus Loyalty to Royalty.

    The numbers are with us, we just don’t know it.

  20. prostratedragon says:

    But it still would be a good idea for the Democrats, or someone willing to make a progressive opposition to the Repugns, to develop a body of articulate people to do both groundlevel organizing and everyday public interfacing, wouldn’t it?

    That’s one thing the College Republicans have done to which the Democrats seem to have no counterpart. I don’t think most Dems want an ideological canon that has to be learned and stuck to, or else, which is fine by me were anyone to ask. But on the other hand, what would be wrong with having an apparatus within the party that keeps members, including Congresspeople, prepped on the relevant facts of current issues before they go to represent on talking head shows and the like? One of the best things Bob Somersby at Daily Howler has done —unfortunately it has been necessary to do it over years— is to point out how unprepared most Dems have been when going into an arena, usually tv, where the advantages of preparation would seem to be obvious. One really has to wonder why that has continued to be so for so long, and at such cost.

  21. Katie Jensen says:

    I have to say one of my favorite moments in all the michael moore cnn business was when michael said â€government works great. I love my government!†I thought, how refreshing was that. No defending, just the truth. I think the same must be said in reference to taxes. Taxes are not evil. They are the way we take care of the needs of society. We have to make decisions for the greater good, and my hope and prayer is that trickle down economics are finally dead. It doesn’t work when the top gets money. They are hoarders. We all need to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good, that is what democracy is all about, and this is what has made america the great nation it can be, when republicans aren’t leading.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I forget. How was it that Karl Rove got out of serving in Viet Nam?
    I know Rush had an anal cyst and Cheney â€other priorities†and we
    know about Bush going AWOL and the Texas National Guard.
    But what was KKKarl’s excuse?

  23. P J Evans says:

    [email protected] 16:38

    Not the railroads. The government’s part was limited in that; it was mostly private companies. I won’t say that they had no help from DC – they did, and it was very generous – but the railroads have, AFAIK, never been government run. Except for Amtrak, and we know how that’s being (not) run. (The conductors on my commuter trains came from Amtrak. They don’t want to go back. They tell stories about what it’s like.)

  24. marksb says:

    Now I’m not one for responding to Jodi much.
    But WTF?!
    Look, people on both (or all) sides, do this all the time.
    If I had a dollar for every time some yahoo used this bullshit line I could retire in Republican splendor.
    What exactly are we talking about here that both sides do all the time?
    Long-range planning? Well, duh, every business and organization in the world does long-range planning.
    Maybe Jodi is talking about long-range planning to rape and pillage the country? Sort of a twenty-year plan to put robber barons in charge of the treasury? Or long-range planning to lie to the country so a war can be waged in some far-off corner of the world where we can squander thousands of our citizens lives and health so the long-range planners can make a fucking fortune?
    And Gingrich’s name in bold? The only living republican hero left? The pond scum from Georgia who’s only claim to positive government policy was delivering a copy of Drucker’s The Effective Executive to every member of Congress when he was made speaker? (Great book, BTW)
    Go back under your slimy rock, Jodi.

  25. Anonymous says:

    The young Karl Rove was thinking along the same as (if not sitting at the feet of) William Simon, Bush’s Treasury Secretary.

    Except that Simon’s aims were even grander: To get wealthy conservatives to stop funding non-conservative colleges and media and to instead set up and/or fund conservative colleges and media, as those are the two places that have the most power in defining what we call reality in America.

    This is why they had to kill the Fairness Doctrine: So they could use their money to literally buy up all the AM bandwidth and starve out any voice to the left of Attila the Hun.

    If the richer liberals had caught on to this thirty years ago and acted accordingly, we’d be in much better shape.

  26. marksb says:

    Karl and the Draft
    From Wiki, that well-known liberal organ of participatory informational democracy:
    (Now there’s an ugly sentence)
    Vietnam War and the draft

    In December 1969, the Selective Service System held its first lottery drawing. Those born on December 25, like Rove, received number 84. That number placed him in the middle of those (with numbers 1 [first priority] through 195) who would eventually be drafted.

    On February 17, 1970, Rove was reclassified as 2-S, a deferment from the draft because of his enrollment at the University of Utah in the fall of 1969. He maintained this deferment until December 14, 1971, despite being only a part-time student in the autumn and spring quarters of 1971 (registered for between six and 12 credit hours) and dropping out of the university in June 1971. Rove was a student at the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall of 1971; as such, he would have been eligible for 2-S status, but registrar’s records show that he withdrew from classes during the first half of the semester. In December 1971 he was reclassified as 1-A.

    On April 27, 1972, he was reclassified as 1-H, or â€not currently subject to processing for induction.†The draft ended on June 30, 1973.
    So it looks like he dodged the draft with nifty but false student status. Unlike some of us who received a nice little note inviting us to appear with a few of our future friends for immediate induction. I remember my notice. Man. now that was a fun time.
    And what’s with the 1-H? That’s a nice little touch. Usually it meant you knew someone or someone you knew knew someone. Here’s more from Wiki:
    In June 1971, Rove dropped out of college to take a paid position as the Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee. Joe Abate, who was National Chairman of the College Republicans at the time, became a mentor to Rove.

    Rove traveled extensively, participating as an instructor at weekend seminars for campus conservatives across the country. He was an active participant in Richard Nixon’s 1972 Presidential campaign. As a protégé of Donald Segretti (later convicted as a Watergate conspirator), Rove painted the Nixon opponent George McGovern as a â€left-wing peacenikâ€, in spite of McGovern’s World War II stint piloting a B-24.[6]
    Ah ha. There ya’ go, he knew somebody. I should have traveled in more influential circles, that much is clear!

  27. texas dem says:

    The much-observed fact that these guys are authoritarians sheds light on both their built-in strengths and their built-in weaknesses. Yes, they’re exceedingly good at drafting a nine-page plan, forcing all their minions to accept it, and then executing it. (We will NEVER be able to do that same thing in that same way. Ever.) They’re also exceedingly bad at admitting new information from the outside world into their thinking, especially when it comes from non-in-group sources. Information cannot move up their chains-of-command, their leaders are egotists surrounded by yes-men, and so they make mistakes, like Katrina, or Iraq, or invading the Soviet Union. We can only thank the Cosmic Order that these formidable (and apparently omnipresent) opponents have built-in weaknesses. We are continually narrowly escaping being overrun by these nincompoops. The universe is a kind of twisted place. So far, we go on barely surviving. But with scars, such as no Jews in Poland, and the Sierra Nevada burning to the ground in 2025. (A predicted consequence of global warming, if that wasn’t obvious.) wtf.

  28. texas dem says:

    The much-observed fact that these guys are authoritarians sheds light on both their built-in strengths and their built-in weaknesses. Yes, they’re exceedingly good at drafting a nine-page plan, forcing all their minions to accept it, and then executing it. (We will NEVER be able to do that same thing in that same way. Ever.) They’re also exceedingly bad at admitting new information from the outside world into their thinking, especially when it comes from non-in-group sources. Information cannot move up their chains-of-command, their leaders are egotists surrounded by yes-men, and so they make mistakes, like Katrina, or Iraq, or invading the Soviet Union. We can only thank the Cosmic Order that these formidable (and apparently omnipresent) opponents have built-in weaknesses. We are continually narrowly escaping being overrun by these nincompoops. The universe has a kindof twisted script. So far, we go on barely surviving. But with scars, such as no Jews in Poland, and the Sierra Nevada burning to the ground in 2025. (A predicted consequence of global warming, if that wasn’t obvious. And one that I learned here from Mimikatz.) wtf.

  29. says:

    whoever said this doesn’t know much about history or how things can change radically in a short period of time, especially like the one being facedg now… >>â€we’re about to enter a two decade period where the Democratic Party dominates America’s political scene, and the repuglican party disappears into history’s trash heapâ€

  30. On the Clock says:

    I spent most of my discretionary time trying to get laid when I was 22. Judging from the memo to Armstrong, Rove had given up.

    My bad, I guess.

  31. Anonymous says:

    In all fairness to Rove, considering the short squatty bald chipmunk appearance and inability to be competitive in the collegiate educational system, personally shredding the Constitution and turning the US into a Republican monarchy was probably a much more likely bet that actually getting laid.

  32. oein says:

    Hi. First-time poster.
    Good to see the dots being connected, many good thoughts and info here. the neo-cons and roves have succeeded in privatising much of what we knew as government; they have at least dismantled so much of accountability that the 3 branches appear disfunctional and so monied business can just step in and do whatever it wishes and expect little reprisal.

    the plot to assume control was well planned: control of fox tv and talk radio, fcc rule changes allowing money to buy more bandwidth rather than fair auctions.

    but for me the biggest card is the bolton card, the bulldogs who fight on the front, who act out the war at home. he’s the pointperson who stopped the recount in Florida (well, in cahoots with Harris, good ole James Baker–go-between for ghwb and junior–and others). and how the dem leadership allowed that all to happen without any foresight and sense of right action remains mystery to me. â€it’s gotta get really bad before it gets better…?†ugh.

    if we witness anything like a stolen election in 2008 it has to be strike time. in the streets. riot in kennebunkport, houston, crawford, you name it.

    no more floridas. no more ohios.
    and we gotta get rove behind bars.

  33. redirises says:

    The tools Rovians use and the views they hold are two different things.

    Democrats could successfully use the most important strategies and tactics Karl Rove and his gang use. Sometimes, Democrats do. It isn’t even necessary to have a highly authoritarian organization to get the job done. Good communications, and the will or self-discipline to use proven methods rather than just “whatever I feel like doing at the moment,†are all that is necessary. Democrats can do that! Liberals can do that!

  34. Anonymous says:

    bmaz, this will probably be epu’d but what the hay.
    Your comment implies that Rove has always looked the way he looks now — beige — is how Jon Stewart put it IIRC.
    I don’t know if he has always looked that way.

    Once I was watching BBC news and they ran some story about him and Bush Sr.
    They showed a picture taken at the time and I had a hard believing it, but thinking it might also have explained a few things.

    Young Rove looked (and here I gag a little) kinda hot in a Nordic nerdy sort of way. He was slim with glasses and a shock of blond hair. I only saw the photo for a second, but that was my impression.

    Given the rumors that surround Rove, many Republicans and the Bush 39 administration, I can understand how a good looking toady like Rove, who was willing to do *anything* could do very well for himself.

    The funny thing is that I was not able to find an older photo of Rove online. All the images that came up when I googled were from W’s administration time period, which struck me as a little strange, considering his long term association with the family and R politics.