Monday, November 13, 2006

Rove Reads the Numbers and the Nation Wrong

It's always been true about America: sooner or later, the people catch on.

Here's a poll from the day after the election from CNN:
By a wide margin, Americans who voted Tuesday in the midterm election say they disapprove of the war in Iraq.

But when asked which issue was extremely important to their vote, more voters said corruption and ethics in government than any other issue, including the war, according to national exit polls.

A large majority of voters also disapproved of how Congress and President Bush are doing their jobs. However, Bush fared slightly better on that score than members of the GOP-led Congress.

And defying the traditional political maxim that "all politics is local," 62 percent of voters said national issues mattered more than local issues when deciding which House candidate to pick.

Months ago, Rove tried to make the election about Iraq. Bad move. Then Rove tried to improvise by suggesting local issues. Again, bad move. Of course, Rove has spent years playing ruthless political games but the voters in the last two years at long last were reading more and more about the various con games being played by Republicans, either with or without Karl Rove. Again, a bad move.

Here's a poll from Newsweek showing the trainwreck of Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld (er, scratch Rumsfeld, he's finally been shoved off the train):
President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to just 31 percent, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll. ...

Worst of all, most Americans are writing off the rest of Bush’s presidency; two-thirds (66 percent) believe he will be unable to get much done, up from 56 percent in a mid-October poll; only 32 percent believe he can be effective. That’s unfortunate since 63 percent of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country...

... Presented with a list of factors that may have contributed to the Democrats’ success, 85 percent of Americans said the “major reason” was disapproval of the administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, 71 percent said disapproval of Bush’s overall job performance, 67 percent cited dissatisfaction with how Republicans have handled government spending and the deficit, 63 percent said disapproval of the overall performance of Republicans in Congress, 61 percent said Democrats’ ideas and proposals for changing course in Iraq. ...

It looks like Rove's endless spinning of the media also contributed to the trainwreck. Keep in mind, though, that Bush and Congress spent six years accomplishing very little.

The Mahablog has a long post on Karl Rove, his flawed assumptions and the unraveling of his genius; here's the last three paragraphs:
... Karl still whispers in Bush’s ear, and I don’t believe Karl has learned much from the thumpin’. I wrote a whole year ago –
What about Karl Rove, who has been trying to build a permanent Republican majority? Although Rove is supposed to be some kind of all-seeing evil genius, I wonder sometimes if he isn’t more of an idiot savant. He’s brilliant at doing one thing–building political power through sheer nastiness. He may not be wise enough to see the seeds of destruction he has planted.
I stand by that. I do not think Rove will change either tactics or strategy. He’s a one-trick pony. The methods that work so well in the South are finally causing revulsion in the rest of the nation. But Rove can’t see that. He’s still thinking about a permanent Republican majority. But if the national Republican Party doesn’t cut its ties to Karl Rove, it might find itself trapped in the deep South, nothing but a quaint artifact of history and southern culture.

Let me quickly point out that I have traveled in the south and have met many good moderates and liberals. When given a chance by the voters, they can do great things. But there are clearly areas around the country that need to catch up to the best parts of our 300 year history (note: Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706; famous for many things, he's been often quoted in the last four years for saying at the Constitutional Convention after a woman asked what the government was to be: a democracy, if you can keep it).

On Tuesday, a majority of voters made it clear that they know what's going on in Washington. Karl Rove and George W. Bush remind me of people I have known who have run a company into the ground. They're usually the kind of people who are the last to notice. And now the president and his pollster have joined a chorus of Republicans pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.

Despite the victory of Democrats this past Tuesday, it will take years to repair the damage Bush has done. But at least oversight has arrived, and the boxing in of a reckless and incompetent president—a process that started last spring—will continue, with more assurance that the job will get done. It was a good thing that happened on Tuesday.


Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Rove's "one trick" is the anything-to-win approach to politics. It treats opponents as enemies and uninvolved third parties as nonentities or patsies. It's single-minded, unscrupulous and ruthless. I think it also relies more heavily on momentum than most of us have realized.

As you point out so well, Rove's one trick is highly effective until enough people catch on.

Americans speak ill of their politicians and public officials reflexively, as though doing otherwise would make them appear dim witted and/or pollyannish. Yet, people don't like it when they learn of their pols and public officials really being that bad. It's these last two factors Rove failed to reckon with or thought he could get around.

One of the healthiest outcomes would be for much of the right-wing noise machine to run into serious audience loss and funding problems.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

S.W., good comments. Let's see, Olbermann's ratings up. Fox News ratings down. There's hope, but it can't be emphasized enough how much work there is left to do.

Rove is still dangerous, particularly if he can find a new wedge issue to exploit, but he suffers from the problem that this generation of Republican politicians truly have nothing to run on. They even wimped oout on their strong suit: keeping the budget deficits down. For independents, and even a significant number of Republicans, the dirty tricks don't even have any ends anymore to justify them as means.

6:35 PM  

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