Karl Rove is fighting for his influence within the Republican party after a thorough defeat of his candidate, Mitt Romney.
In Rove’s “win some, lose some,” reaction to what just happened, it is evident he does not see what is clear in the eyes of mainstream America-that his political games that crush conservatism and advance moderate candidates may well have lost us the country.
George W. Bush’s Presidency was hijacked by the largest attack on the nation on 9/11/01, and whether it is agreed upon how he dealt with it, he kept us safe. However, he increased entitlement spending and big government under his banner of “compassionate conservatism,” and as Dan Riehl pointed out in “What Conservative Movement?” Bush was no conservative, and in fact, hostile toward the conservative movement.
“What is this movement you keep talking about in the speech?” the president asked Latimer. Latimer explained that he meant the conservative movement — the movement that gave rise to groups like CPAC. Bush seemed perplexed. Latimer elaborated a bit more. Then Bush leaned forward, with a point to make. “Let me tell you something,” the president said. “I whupped Gary Bauer’s ass in 2000. So take out all this movement stuff. There is no movement.”
Mark Levin points out that Bush was to Obama what Hoover was to FDR, paving the way for massive explosion of liberal policy by being open to liberal ideas.
Ralph Benko writes, “The End Of The Karl Rove Death Grip Signals A Reagan Renaissance“ in Monday’s Forbes, explaining the way forward for the ‘non-existent’ conservative movement.
Liberals do not grasp the distinction between Ronald Reagan and (either) George Bush. This blind spot creates a massive confusion and hazard to their ambitions. Obama defeated neither the Reagan Narrative nor Team Reagan. Team Bush appropriated, and then marginalized, both. Obama beat Team Bush, not Team Reagan. The implications are huge.
Conservatism wins elections, and Karl Rove’s brand of Republicanism divides the party, therefore losing elections. You needn’t go further than his Crossroads performance. According to the Sunlight Foundation,
“The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics, calculated that only 6 percent of Crossroads money went to winners; by comparison, the Service Employees International Union, an old war horse of Democratic politics, had a 70 percent victory rate.”
So what is Rove’s reaction?
Rove argued today that Romney lost in part because President Barack Obama outspent him on TV when outside groups are taken out of the equation. “This shows that money does matter in politics,” Rove said on Fox News, where he is a paid commentator.
Where until now it battled only in general elections and against Democrats, Crossroads is considering whether to start picking sides in Republican primaries. The idea would be to boost the candidate it deems most electable and avoid nominating the kind of flawed and extreme ones who cost the party what should otherwise have been easy Senate wins in Florida, Missouri and Indiana.
The vast majority of funds spent by American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS were invested in races they ultimately lost: the presidential race (where they spent at least $110 million), as well as Senate races in Virginia (at least $10 million spent trying to elect George Allen), Florida (at least $7.7 million spent helping Connie Mack), Wisconsin (at least $7.3 million to elect Tommy Thompson), Ohio (at least $6.3 million to help Josh Mandel), Indiana (at least $3.3 million on Richard Mourdock), and Montana (at least $3.2 million on Dennis Rehberg).
It is no wonder Rove is trying to blame candidates in Florida, Missouri and Indiana. After spending $11 million in two of the races, he neglects to explain how the moderate candidates in the other races lost with twice as much cash thrown at them. Florida’s Connie Mack, and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock won their primaries handily, and Crossroads pulled their money from Missouri following Akin’s remarks on abortion. From a party perspective, it was considered very bad form of Rove to pull the money after it was clear Akin was not going to step out of the race, but, given the results of the other races, perhaps it did not matter. Of course, he lent to the acid-hate and influence of the left by publicly and forcefully denouncing Akin, just like he did when O’Donnell won in the Delaware primary in 2010, defeating Mike Castle.
Rove’s influence on the consultant class pushed the narrative that a conservative cannot win in Delaware, which he made damn sure of on television everyday, and now is pushing the same narrative that Mourdock should not have been picked by the grassroots of Indiana, defeating an extremely liberal Dick Lugar. Lugar went on to split his own Indiana Republican party, refusing to endorse Mourdock, the same tactic Rove used with O’Donnell and Castle.
So Rove’s plan forward is to spend money in the primaries to defeat these “flawed and extreme” candidates that are primary winners because they get support from the grassroots.
That decision will not save him, will divide the party further, and will lead to more calls for a third party. I’m quite confident of my predictions, but if even one of the three assertions in the previous statement comes true, the Republican party will continue to lose election after election.
Rove’s characterization of a flawed and extreme candidate is establishment-talk for a conservative, brought to clarity by Benko’s article in Forbes. The conservative argument that Brent Bozell makes, “If I had 1/100th of Karl Rove’s money, I would have been more productive than he was,” shows the distinction between Rove’s thought that more money is the key, when it is how it is spent that is instead, the key.
Philosophy is not important to Rove and the rest of the Bush Mandarins as Jeff Lord pointed out,
But the first order of business for the Bush transition was turning out all of the Reaganites as quickly as possible. It was said of Bush appointees that, unlike Reaganites, they had mortgages rather than ideologies. Paul Weyrich said that he had always feared that the election of Bush meant the arrival of “country club Republicans who couldn’t wait for the end of the Reagan administration.” (Secretary of State) George Shultz’s top aide at the State Department, Charles Hill, recalled, “It was suddenly clear that this would be an adversarial transition. The new people were not friendly. The signals were: get out of here as fast as you can.” Newt Gingrich cautioned, “We are not Bush’s movement.”
The tone was set. And it quickly got worse.
Rove’s way of thinking pervades every bit of the so-called conservative partisan media, and he’s not a conservative, as Benko points out, he is instead a Bush Mandarin. Let us not forget the influence of Rove. He is the idol of the DC consultant class, whom I have dubbed, “Rovians.” He is a political commentator for Fox News, and writes in the Wall Street Journal. Fox News is owned by NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Wall Street Journal, both mediums which are becoming quickly and more blatantly liberal. He is in control of a vast amount of money, which he raised, I understand, no problem, but then he is asked repeatedly by Fox News anchors what his take is on every Republican candidate. He is asked what his predictions are, county by county, scrawled on a white board. He influences every key Senate race, and during the primaries, positioning his preferred moderate candidate, and as David Lane points out in this Business Insider piece,
Karl is far more formidable…in the presidential Republican primary in 12′, Karl stepped on Rick Perry and then Newt Gingrich every chance he got — albeit with deceit and sophistication — and elevated Mitt Romney at strategic, crucial points along their way to the Republican nomination — Rove’s candidate.
As an example of how sophisticated Rove is…Karl Rove was out raising money to keep Santorum alive until they could kill Newt — Santorum basically ran for Governor of Iowa in 2011, visiting all 99 counties; Santorum, out of Iowa, had no organization, no money and no chance in 2012 to be the Republican nominee; he was only a stalking horse for Mitt Romney — Rove kept Santorum alive until he could kill Rick Perry first, and then Newt Gingrich.
Considering that Rove is already making plays in the primaries, and wants to zero in on primary candidate nominations, could it be possible that he would swing money to a third party? Or perhaps a Democrat in the general?
Lane’s assertions are illustrative of Rove’s blindspot for what wins elections. After all the work Fox News put in to pushing for Mitt Romney during the primaries, putting Rove on the stage for the Iowa primary, proved his ineffectiveness in prediction then.
That evening, Joe Trippi looked at the same numbers as Rove did, and concluded Santorum would win.
“I can’t believe it but Rick Santorum is going to eke past Romney and win this thing.” Karl looked down at his sheets of equations and said he couldn’t believe it either – that Santorum was going to give Romney a dogfight no one had really expected – but he had Romney with a slight mathematical advantage. The two of us had calculated the race in minutes to within a tenth of a percent of each other.
Trippi goes on to say that Rove is masterful at predicting outcomes, but I remember that night, when Rove figured Romney would still win when the total number of counties still out were Romney counties, and everyone was waiting on a truck, that would deliver the necessary votes for Romney. Santorum ultimately won the Iowa caucus, with no money, just county to county old-fashioned-sleep-in-your-car campaigning. And conservatism.
With his mathematical ability to predict outcomes, Rove is ignoring that face to face interaction with voters is crucial to winning elections, a point he sort of expressed during the Sean Hannity radio program on Monday, but missed the point again. When asked what to do going forward, Rove answered,
“I hate to say it, but we need to copy what Howard Dean did,” he told Hannity. “And that is make our ground game in all 50 states.”
Rove said Republicans had a “reasonably good” ground game in Florida and Ohio, two major battlegrounds they ended up losing to President Obama. (Mitt Romney’s Florida adviser said in the days after the election that the state was “winnable” for Romney but that the organization there was lacking.)
Rove told Hannity that the lack of GOP ground game made a big difference in other states.
“We didn’t have a ground game in a lot of these states with Senate races and so we lost North Dakota by 3,300 votes,” he said. He added the lack of ground game also cost the GOP a chance at winning the Senate seat in Montana. “We need to have a better ground game in all 50 states,” Rove said.
Any question Rove would advise what ever ground game he could muster next go-round be Bush team players?
“Crossroads served as referee, says CEO Law. “Conservative activists tend to act like six-year-olds on soccer teams,” he explains, “with everyone grouping around the ball and getting in each other’s way. Karl’s idea was that all of these organizations should share information, coordinate polling, reduce redundancy.”
Rewriting history about what won the day in 2010, Rove asserts that it was his efforts with Crossroads who “served as referee” with AFP, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Chamber of Commerce. When the fact was that the tea party grassroots went all out to put conservatives in the House of Representatives. Conservatism won in 2010, but Rove reaches toward the same plan made by Howard Dean a Democrat, (who lost) and plans to fight the grassroots conservative tea party going forward.
The good news for tea party Reagan conservatives is, that his plans going forward are self-defeating. The bad news is, Rove can and will take down the Republican party.
The fact is, that the grassroots is already effective in the primaries, proving there is more conservative boots on the ground than moderate “Bush Mandarin” types. Also, there aren’t party moderates who would knock on doors like the tea party does, especially if they are told by Rove that their candidate is superior, and is bound to win. As Benko writes, they have the same blindspot as Rove and the left.
The only question is, will the tea party Reagan conservatives stay with the party? A lot depends on how obstinate the Bush team is. They just lost a huge election, and plan on losing more. The conservatives in the party are not so interested anymore in voting for the establishment pick, a point lost on the Rovian class. The results of the election compared to the hype prior should be evidence enough that Rove was wrong by prediction and strategy, during the most pivotal election ever.
An election Rove figured was winnable by an electable candidate, and drove the narrative until the results proved him very, very wrong.