By Marty Rosenbaum

Perhaps no sentence better describes the absurdity of the internet age than the following.

The National and Karl Rove are feuding.

Buckle in, this one is good.

The song “Walk It Back” from The National’s new record features a spoken-word passage saying,

“People like you are still living in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

As Stereogum points out, the quote comes from a 2004 New York Times Magazine piece about President Bush’s administration and was attributed to an anonymous “senior adviser to Bush,” later identified as Karl Rove.

The National gave royalties to journalist Ron Suskind to use his piece on their record. Frontman Matt Berninger jokingly asked Suskind to share it with Rove.

Newsweek took that request and ran with it asking Rove what he thought of The National using the quote. Rove responded,

“Not familiar with the band and the quote is fictitious.” The only person in the room who supposedly heard this quote was the ‘reporter’ — none of the other people in the room heard anything like it, including its supposed author (me).”

As for the song itself? Rove said,

“Off the record: starts with a Euro Tech Pop thing and transition into a more peppy tune that’s easier to dance to and has a sound track that on YouTube is impossible to heard. Suspect it won’t make Casey Kasem’s Top 40.”

After reading Karl Rove’s response, The National got straight to the point on Twitter.


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