May 12, 2003, 7:00 A.M.
Kevin Cash's 1975 biography of William Loeb, Who the Hell Is William Loeb?, paints a picture of the New Hampshire arch-conservative publisher of the Manchester Union Leader, that calls Rove to mind. From the time that he bought the Union Leader until the time of his death, an editorial by Bill Loeb appeared in his newspaper every day. These editorials were renowned for their vitriol, their extreme tone and the venom with which Loeb could attack. To anyone considering a run for the presidency in the 1960s and 1970s, Loeb was a man to be feared and, if you were willing to sell your soul, to be courted. Karl Rove has even more power than Loeb. Loeb’s importance came from the fact that during his tenure New Hampshire’s First in the Nation primary stood clearly as the most important race in the country. “As goes New Hampshire, goes the nation.” Rove’s power comes from his success in making, and breaking, politicians.
Karl Rove scares a lot of people, especially Democrats. He scares them because he is as adroit a political operative as has ever come down the pike. He is also among the most arrogant, vindictive and vicious.
No small wonder that the Rove (did I say Rove? I meant Bush) administration has such a haughty air. Rove is fresh off the conquest of Texas; his clients have won almost every election they’ve run for. The one who did not win, Richard Thornburgh of Pennsylvania, was sued by Rove when he failed to pay his bill! This guy has chutzpa. When I say conquest of Texas, I mean the complete control of state government by the Republicans that was masterminded by Rove. Lyndon Johnson must be turning in his grave to see the ground lost by Democrats in the past 20 years.
Even with this backdrop, Rove does not scare me – he challenges me. Eric Boehlert points out recently in Salon, that many Democrats are hoping that Bush 43 suffers the same political fate as his father’s in 1992 by winning a war in Iraq, only to lose re-election at home because of a soft economy. This is wishful thinking because "young Bush. . .has two things going for him that his father did not: the ongoing war on terror and bare-knuckled political advisor Karl Rove." If Rove is that formidable, I say bring him on; these guys are vulnerable, mainly because they are arrogant enough to expose their soft, white underbelly -- their political strategy.
James C. Moore, co-author of Bush’s Brain: Howe Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential has a lot to say about the Rove/Bush strategy and their goal to use the “war on terror” to carry the success of the War on Iraq through the 2004 election. Rove’s remarks during his visit last week to the Granite State refer to the “Battle of Iraq” just like Bush’s remarks in the aircraft carrier speech. Moore’s Los Angeles Times article points up the boldness of the administration’s use of the “war on terror” as a political tool to divert attention away from the ineptitude of this administration and the abject failure of the Republicans to put together a viable domestic policy. The hard fought economic stability, budget surplus and progressive domestic agenda have been thrown away in favor of raw politics, paybacks to administration cronies, and an administration that relies on political, rather than policy advisors to react to domestic and international situations.
So who the hell is Karl Rove? He is the man behind the curtain, the guy who makes it all happen and the one who admittedly works every day of his life to establish a Republican hegemony in American politics, as he did in Texas. He is also the man with the plan that is designed to bring about the Republican domination of this country for the next generation. This should not be scary or intimidating; it should motivate others to deny Rove his victory. If Democrats continue to moan about how Rove is too powerful, or how he plays out of bounds, we will lose the next election. Waving signs in protest at Rove’s speech last week at St. Anselm’s was like poking a bull with a stick. It just makes him inclined to gore you. The solution is to step on this guy’s neck, not to ask him to play nice. Rove doesn’t see himself as a player in the game – it is his game, and he intends to win. As I see it, unless the Democrats are prepared to take off the gloves, there will be four more years of politics as an end game, making the operation of government more for the people in government, than the people it is supposed to serve.