THE BLOG

Karl Rove's Odd Advice

08/08/2008 11:56 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Back in April, in a Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove urged John McCain to be less reserved about his personal life and background, and run more on his biography. "[I]t is clear," Rove wrote, "that Mr. McCain is one of the most private individuals to run for president in history."

Four months later, Rove recycled the exact same point in yet another column.

Mr. McCain is the most private person to run for president since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. He needs to share (or allow others to share) more about him, especially his faith. The McCain and Obama campaigns are mirror opposites. Mr. McCain offers little biography, while Mr. Obama is nothing but.

Rove's right-wing ideology is obviously pretty far out there, but I'm generally inclined to think he's at least aware of current events. After reading a column like this, it's hard not to wonder if Rove has been watching the same presidential race as the rest of us.

By all appearances, Rove has McCain's strategy entirely backwards. McCain isn't a private person at all -- as the Weekly Standard's Dean Barnett put it, "You know how you can tell really private people? They spend 26 years in public life as a politician. They also do things like host Saturday Night Live where they sing Streisand tunes before a national TV audience."

"McCain offers little biography"? McCain has been offering little but biography. He's been running ads with interrogation footage taken while McCain was a prisoner of war. He launched a "biographical tour," during which McCain highlighted his family history. He's even run campaign videos spotlighting McCain's experiences growing up.

The difference between this column and the one in April, however, was the suggestion that McCain should do more to share "his faith." That's not unreasonable advice, given that rank-and-file evangelicals aren't exactly enamored with the McCain candidacy, and if his support doesn't improve, his chances of winning will become even more remote.

But there's a catch. In fact, there's a very good reason we haven't seen more religion talk from McCain: it's a very awkward subject for him.

Ultimately, it's not at all clear why McCain would listen to Rove's advice anyway. A disgraced former White House aide who claims to have cornered the market on his own version of math?

If Democrats are very lucky, McCain will take Rove's advice seriously.