We are now debating whether Karl Rove will be remembered as a political boy genius, political prince of darkness, or political destroyer of the Republican Party. While I hope for the latter and suspect he will actually be remembered as, “Karl Who?”, he should be remembered mainly as someone with a mixed record at best, who managed only to be lucky enough to woo the Bushes at just the right time and amoral enough to cynically turn a massive tragedy into a worse tragedy and then spin the whole disaster into short-term political gain.
I have also read that some Democrats are secretly trying to emulate his methods to emulate his electoral record. This scares the hell out of me. Please, look at his actual record as it really is first, and then pretty please, do not copy this malicious loser.
Here, from a man who lived his first 37 years in his once beloved home State of Texas, and who finally left in disgust at how far she had fallen by 1998, is the thumbnail sketch of Rove’s alleged genius: He chaperoned a strapping, folksy, wealthy Texas Republican son of a former Texas Republican President to two gubernatorial victories in one of the most Republican states in the land, lost the popular vote in 2000, got creamed in 2006, and managed to exploit tragedy, fear and brave young soldiers to relatively narrow and short-lived victories in 2002 and 2004. Boy Genius why?
Rove is often credited with some combination of cunning and brutality in allegedly leading Bush to a somewhat unlikely victory over popular Governor Ann Richards. The truth is quite different. First, Ann Richards, God rest her soul and God love her, was engaging, funny and well-liked, but she was viewed with something between mistrust and contempt by conservatives, by which I mean the majority of Texans.
By 1994, Texas had become thoroughly Republican. In fact in 1990, Richards was on her way to being trounced by another vapid West Texas oil man by the name of Clayton Williams until a few weeks before the election when Williams said this: “its sort of like rape; once you realize its inevitable, you might as well just lie back and enjoy it.” I am NOT making that up. He said it on camera and on the record.
And still, the election was close, with Richards only winning 52% to 48%.
Then, in 1992, adoptive Texan Bush Sr. carried the state widely, but lost the Presidential election. Oh, did Texans feel bad for the Bushes. So, in 1994 we had George W. Bush, part owner of the Texas Ranger Baseball team (never mind how he got there); a Republican; son of former President (and the Goddess Barbara) Bush, whom Texans wanted so much to make feel better; coming off then as folksy and direct, fit and handsome; and did I mention Republican in an overwhelmingly Republican state? If Texans gave 48% to a man who said women should enjoy rape mainly because he was the Republican, how much of a chance did Ann Richards ever really have, even without Rove’s disgusting alleged rumors about lesbianism and his beating the drum about her former addictions (while his own candidate was a recovering alcoholic)? A trained monkey named Bush could have won that election running as a Republican.
That election, let us never forget, is what made the presidency for George W. Bush possible. A cake walk handed to the pleasant-enough eldest son of a locally popular former President and his even more popular wife, not a feat of political genius by Carl Rove.
So Rove’s first big election was a cakewalk from start to finish.
So was his second. How hard do you think it was to get Republican Bush reelected in even more staunchly Republican Texas in 1998? The Democrats, such as they were, barely even contested the election.
ROVE LOST. HE LOST. HE LOST. HE LOST.
Bush (Rove) lost the popular vote. Even in Florida, even if you don’t buy that Gore really won by 500 votes, Rove had his candidate’s little brother in the Governor’s office, his candidate’s statewide campaign chair counting the votes, Ralph Nader sucking away 90,000 votes and a scandalously misleading ballot in Palm County stealing another 37,000 from Gore, and still the best Rove could manage was a statistical tie.