N.Y.Times – Karl Rove Losing Influence? They SURE Hope So!


By: Warner Todd Huston

Sept. 2nd’s edition of the Times has a pretty misleading article filled with Karl Rove’s woes and informing all of us lowly beyond the beltway lifeforms that Rove is now useless to his Party where once he was a kingmaker. At least they are hoping this to be the case.

Where it is misleading is that, as they fill the piece with how Rove is losing influence, they don’t balance that claim with the simple fact that nearly every 2nd term president and his team struggles to keep hold of the Party reins as that president’s last years in office roll on. It happened to Clinton, too, if the Times will remember?

One would think that Rove has lost his Midas touch and is now routinely ignored by Party hopefuls and candidates all up and down the line after reading this piece.

“Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser, is struggling to steer the Republican Party to victory this fall at a time when he appears to have the least political authority since he came to Washington, party officials said.”

Ah, the famous “party officials said” line! I’d bet no one the reporters interviewed said this but that it is an amalgamation of claims and analysis as opposed to a direct statement made by any such “party official”.

It sems the Times is reveling in letting us all know how Rove is losing it…

“But outside the White House, as President Bush’s popularity has waned, and as questions have arisen among Republicans about the White House’s political acumen, the party’s candidates are going their own way in this difficult election season far more than they have in any other campaign Mr. Rove has overseen.”

Hardly anywhere in the piece is a mention of the common “6 year curse” or that this is the first campaign Rove has ever been in where that curse has been in play (they mention this fact but one time, and that close to the end of the piece). That “curse” is the common statistic that Americans begin to lean to the other Party than the one in power every 6 years. This has been a general rule in American politics and has often enough been the case to make it something of a maxim. The American people just plain don’t like it when a single Party seems always to be in the driver’s seat and a pretty steady swing back and forth to some degree can be seen in the polity’s voting history. While this common swing of the voter’s support is a central hurdle for Rove to negotiate, the article barely mentions it.

Next the Times acts as if conservative commentators have been in lock step with Bush since 2000, but now Rove has somehow lost control of them…

“Influential conservative commentators have openly broken with the White House, calling into question the continued enthusiasm of evangelicals, economic conservatives and other groups that Mr. Rove has counted on to win elections. Some Republicans are ignoring Mr. Rove’s efforts to hold the party together on issues like immigration and Iraq.”

What a load! Few conservative commentators have been under the thumb of Karl Rove in ANY reading of reality. Rove has never been able to control them and neither has the president. From Bill Krystol of the Weekly Standard (who supported McCain in 2000 and has constantly told Bush he is not strong enough on the war on terror since 9/11), to Pat Buchanan who has railed against Bush since forever, to icon William Buckley who has said that Bush is not conservative enough, the conservative Punditry has never been slavish Bush supporters under Rove’s control.

“The diminishment in Mr. Rove’s influence reflects the fact that his power is to some extent a function of Mr. Bush’s popularity. In some cases, Republican candidates have made a deliberate strategic decision that the way to win is to distance themselves from the White House.”

This is also somewhat misleading. Bush is on the way out no matter what and this is the time when politicians begin to look for ways to put themselves ahead of the pack for the immediate future when a new Party head is in ascendance and an old one is going away, losing his position and becoming yesterday’s news. THAT is what Rove faces, far more than “approval ratings”. Rove, being tied to Bush will find his position as chief Party strategist naturally waning, even if he does still have “it” the Party will naturally want to move on looking to the future, one where Bush and his team are no longer main contenders for control.

Of course, they cannot write a Rove story without claiming he was about to be indicted. Even though he never was.

“Mr. Rove enters the campaign season after a year of personal tumult. Until mid-June he faced the threat of indictment in the investigation into the leak of a C.I.A. officer’s identity, and in April, he was stripped of some of his duties in the White House. Mr. Rove was moved from an office in a West Wing corner suite to a smaller windowless office across the hall, a shift one friend said he found demoralizing.”

Funny how they never mention that all the supposed charges were utterly bogus, but they merely hold that it went away, giving no explanation.

Anyway, this story is heavy on how Rove is being “diminished” yet light on the reasons why, both historically and currently. All in all, this is a really bad example of pushing a wishful hope above any solid and balanced analysis.

That “paper of record” pushes an agenda instead of reality once again.

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