The Washington Post reports that there are people already lining up to point fingers if the Republicans lose next Tuesday. They plan on pointing at Karl Rove. Now it really has already started, yesterday's op-ed in the WaPo by Dick Armey was finger pointing at Rove and his perceived tactics.
If the Republicans were to lose control of at least one chamber, those in the party who have long seen Rove's approach as polarizing would feel emboldened. At the same time, a new panel co-chaired by the man who exemplifies the GOP establishment, former secretary of state James A. Baker III, is preparing to chart a new course on the Iraq war — which polls suggest is the single largest reason for the Republicans' current travails.
"The architect may find his engineering plans were faulty," said one former senior official of past GOP administrations, who has watched the current one with increasing dismay. "Turning out the base this year may not be a winning or a governing strategy. America seems to be looking forward to making things work together, rather than dividing people across the board."
Rove is dismissive of the idea that the Republicans will lose the 15 House seats or six Senate seats required to cede control to the Democrats. On Tuesday, when the White House hosted radio talk show hosts from around the country, Rove did at least 13 interviews. He was on the phone with Washington association executives with what one called "happy talk" about voter-turnout metrics, polling data and campaign funding.
"I look at the individual races as clear-eyed as I can every single day, knowing what we are doing and knowing that we have the capacity to move the resources in if we need to do more," Rove said in a brief telephone interview from the road last week. "Incumbents are hard to defeat. Our candidates by and large have significantly more resources than they have. And we have succeeded in making these races choices between two local candidates."
An object of fascination on both the left and right, Rove at age 55 counts as one of the most celebrated and notorious figures in modern presidential history. Inside the White House, he is a revered figure, known as something of a jokester who will show up at senior staff meetings bearing snacks and promising a coup if Bolten is absent. Ed Rogers, a prominent GOP lobbyist, calls him "the glue" that holds the White House together.
There have been so many cartoonish portraits of many of the administration officials, it is difficult to separate the myth from the reality. Rove has obviously been able to win elections. There is no doubt whatever that the Democrats are trying to copy his success at the moment for all their whining about "wedge issues". The Democrats are desperately trying to drive wedges into the Republican/Conservative coalition this year. So if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, that should tell you something about how Rove is regarded even in opposition circles.
Rove still seems confident that the Republicans will hold both houses. I have posted any number of items which indicate that I am pretty sure the conventional wisdom is wrong – again – this year. We'll know in just over a week, won't we? One thing to keep in mind about the conventional wisdom. Remember all the breathless reports that Rove was about to be indicted? Think about that.