This week, damaging documents came to the Senate, showing White House efforts directed by Karl Rove to involve Federal employees for political purposes. While understandable outrage has been expressed for this violation of the Hatch Act - which included U.S. Ambassadors who are viewed as far outside partisan politics - one minor revelation has been overlooked that has its own major ramifications.
At later presentations after the 2006 election, Rove and Sara Taylor (at the time, director of White House political affairs) gave their analysis of the widespread Republican defeats. Blame was laid directly on "corrupt" Republican officials and "complacent incumbents."
And there, as clearly as possible, you have the game plan for Republican election defeat. Unfortunately for Republicans, that election is not the one in 2006, but those coming in 2008.
O scoffers, scoff ye not. Remember, these revelations are of private presentations by Karl Rove and his minions, events breaking Federal law that would need to keep private. One expects brutal honesty in private. It's only in public that we expect to hear, "I see this election loss as a victory. We got our message out. The campaign was gaining steam for the future."
But in total privacy, that's when we expect to be told, "Oh, God, they hate us. They hate our positions, they hate our promises. They even hate our clothes, our haircuts, our campaign buttons, our jokes and my mother."
And what did Team Rove give - in total privacy - as the reason Republicans got crushed in the 2006 elections? "Corrupt" Republicans and "complacent incumbents."
You mean, they don't think...oh...the Iraq War might have anything to do with it?? Americans are against the war by 68-27%! Yes, those numbers were different last Fall, but you don't get a 41-point different overnight, me bucko. Just five months after the election, a poll of politically-active Iowa Republicans said they wanted withdrawal from Iraq within six months -by a landslide margin of 52-39%.
And Team Rove thinks the G.O.P. got swamped in 2006 because of "corrupt" Republicans and "complacent incumbents."
Now add onto Iraq things like Hurricane Katrina, vetoing stem cell research, attempting to privatize Social Security, spying on Americans without warrants, and ignoring global warming...for starters.
And Karl Rove and his Merry Band think Republicans lost Congress because of "corrupt" Republicans and "complacent incumbents."
News flash: the corrupt Republicans were just a bonus. The colorful cherry on the sundae. And the only complacent Republicans were Karl Rove himself and George Bush, who were reported to have been privately predicting victory. The rest of the G.O.P were racing for the lifeboats before the Titanic went glug.
Again, it can't be reiterated enough that what Karl Rove said in these presentations was private, so private that it wouldn't leak for fear of federal indictment. Which is...well, okay, what's happening now. If this is what Bush's Brain, the leading strategist of the Republican Party is telling his troops about why the G.O.P. got swamped in 2006, then they are so far behind the eight-ball for planning 2008 that they couldn't hit it with a Dick Cheney autograph-model pellet gun.
You can't fix a problem unless you acknowledge it. This is a reality in life, not limited to resolving the Iraq quagmire. But then, we've long-since learned that the Bush Administration doesn't acknowledge mistakes, period.
Is it possible that Team Rove didn't really mean what they said in private? Given their track record with honesty, sure. But if so, that's pretty pathetic strategizing, and almost as bad. Actually, it's worse in some ways, because if you're going to risk federal indictment, then lying to the very people you're counting on to lead you to victory next time around borders on the clinically insane.
In the end, this whole endeavor might explain Karl Rove better than one would otherwise think. Mr. Rove is purported to be this Brilliant Evil Genius Political Strategist. But it more and more appears that his only genius skill is in lying, cheating and deception. When it comes to actual political strategy - just take another look at his disastrous resume and policy failures for the Bush Administration: the Iraq War, privatizing Social Security, eliminating habeas corpus, ignoring New Orleans, firing U.S. Attorneys, flying in to sign a bill for Teri Schiavo, allowing torture, vetoing stem cell research, Harriet Miers, trying to sell port management to Dubai Ports World, warrantless wiretaps, neglecting global warming, losing Congress, playing to the base and winding up with a 25% approval rating.
In that perspective, then his believing that the G.O.P lost Congress in 2006 only because of "corrupt" Republicans and "complacent incumbents" makes perfect sense. As the leading Republican strategist sets out his agenda for 2008, it appears blindly headed down an even bigger sinkhole than the last time.