A Post-Calvin Commencement Thought

Via “Ed”:http://www.goesping.org I read Jim Wallis’ “post-game analysis”:http://www.sojo.net (registration required) of Bush’s commencement speech at Calvin College (first Polytropian mention “here”:http://www.polytropos.org/archives/2005/05/commencement.html). It included a particular notion that I’ve come to consider an error, to whit:

Rove expected the evangelical Christian college in the dependable “red” area of western Michigan to be a safe place.

The implication here is that Rove expected Calvin to be a _conservative_ institution, and that going there was part of a “massaging the base” strategy. I think, though, that Rove knew full well that Calvin was a more moderate institution, and that _that_ was his political goal — broadening Bush’s image from just being an icon of the Religious Right. I _do_ think Rove made a miscalculation, but it wasn’t because he thought Calvin was something other than it was. Reasons:

1. Rove is very smart and does his homework.
2. As noted in the “Grand Rapids Press”:http://www.mlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-22/1116602310294150.xml?grpress?NEG, he has family connections (albeit distant ones) to Calvin, and so has an even greater chance of knowing the culture there.
3. He arranged this shindig through Congressman Vern Ehlers, a former Calvin prof and Republican moderate, who certainly would have been able to accurately describe what Calvin was like.

So I think Rove was deliberately targeting a moderate institution. Nevertheless, I’m sure he wouldn’t have gone ahead with it had he known the amount of controversy it would stir up. Not anticipating the controversy has little to do with apprehending or misapprehending Calvin, and more to do with misapprehending the fact that lots and lots of people oppose this President not because of their spot on the political spectrum, but because he’s been a disastrous President.