It is widely held that Karl Rove is a political genius - even by the Democrats who loath him. After all, he is the architect that brought George W. Bush and the GOP to power and the man who perfected the use of evil but effective political tricks like push polling, divisive wedge issues, and cynical evangelical outreach. And you must be a genius to get so many blue collar workers to vote exactly counter to their own economic interests, right?
The truth is that Rove only looks brilliant in hindsight and only because Bush won in 2000 and 2004. But if you recall, Gore actually won the 2000 election's popular vote and it was eventually confirmed by independent sources that Gore also won more votes in Florida. And in 2004, Bush won the election by beating Kerry in Ohio by the smallest of margins and under controversial circumstances. That means Rove's cynical and deceptive tactics actually resulted in Bush losing in 2000 and barely winning in 2004.
Both elections broke Rove's way so he is seen as brilliant and his strategy vindicated. That is why the McCain campaign thinks the only way to win is embracing scorched earth Rovian tactics. McCain and his surrogates will spend the next month relentlessly attacking. Obama's patriotism will be questioned, they will suggest Obama is too foreign and different to be trusted, and they will try to trick Americans into thinking that a middle class, black nominee for President is actually an uppity, disrespectful elitist.
These shameful tactics scare Democrats more than anything because they believe that Rovian stunts are the only thing that could derail Obama. Don't believe the hype! These tactics did not work as well as people think in 2000 or 2004 and they won't work that well against Obama in 2008. The big secret is that Rove is not a genius, he is just a lucky bastard with shameful tactics. Now Obama is poised to prove you don't need to be a bastard to win an election.