Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Rove Question

How worried should we Democrats be about our buddy Karl Rove? Clearly he has some talent, but does he really warrent us discussing him in hushed whispers? Walter Shapiro, writing on several books that relate (in some cases tangentially) to Mr. Rove says no.
Fixated on the Cult of Karl, hagiographers, like the authors of "The Architect," constantly miss all the ways that Rove's gambits end up doing little more than mobilizing the Democrats in opposition. Moore and Slater lavish considerable attention on Rove's fantasy of wiping out the fundraising basis of the Democratic Party by crippling unions and trial lawyers and wooing wealthy Jewish donors with the administration's pro-Israel tilt in the Middle East. There is even a hint of anti-Semitism when the authors trot out the odious dual-loyalty charge: "A president who'd famously bragged that he didn't read newspapers or deeply study policy had surrounded himself with advisors whose interest in Israel's sovereignty and safety might have outweighed their concern for the United States."

Rove, in his efforts to defund the Democrats, apparently forgot about the law of unintended consequences. Bush's conspicuous efforts to pander to his social conservative supporters prompted a fundraising backlash from partisan Democrats. As Edsall writes in discussing the financing of the 2004 campaign, "[John] Kerry not only came within striking distance of Bush, but he also tapped into the small donor universe to a degree that had never been even approximated on the Democratic side of the aisle." This year, although Internet-based small giving is apparently down, the Democrats are in surprisingly strong shape for a party that reaps none of the obvious rewards from controlling Congress or the White House. All this prompts the obvious question: If Rove is so smart, why are the Democrats so comparatively rich?
I think Rove is a great media creation, and he has some skills. But mostly he's been lucky, as Shapiro points out. Lucky that Gore ran a crap campaign, lucky that the Media waged a 2 year war against Gore, lucky (if you can call it that) that September 11th happened, and so on and so forth.

I don't think his luck will hold forever

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