Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bush's Brainstem

Karl Rove is reacting poorly to the loss of his mythic status as the 21st century's undisputed political mastermind.

In the aftermath of the November 7th elections, Rove seems to have decided that, if he can't be revered as a genius, then being perceived as a deluded sap will do. His embarrassing campaign to spin last week's crappy GOP performance into P.R. gold continued today in an interview with U.S. News & World Report.

White House political architect Karl Rove is back on the offensive, offering an aggressively positive spin on last Tuesday's elections.

He is telling GOP operatives and organizers that things weren't as bad as they seemed and that the news media have been exaggerating the extent of GOP losses.

"There was a rush to say there was a huge wave against the Republican Party," says a Republican strategist who is close to Rove. "That was premature."

For example, Rove says many races went down to the wire--there were 35 House contests in which the winner got 51 percent of the vote or less--suggesting that the country is still closely divided between Republicans and Democrats. In the 18 races decided by 8,000 or fewer votes, the GOP won 12 and lost six, Rove says. Rove argues that there was a bad "environment" for the GOP, one marked by stories of scandal and corruption, intensified by the unpopularity of the Iraq war and President Bush.
This trainwreck is getting painful to watch.

The election results "weren't as bad as they seemed"? Really? From what I saw, they were every bit as bad as they seemed. Did Rove fail to notice that the Republican Party lost control of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate? Did he fail to notice also that not a single seat held by a Democrat changed hands? No, I'm sorry, but that's bad for the GOP, and if the positions were reversed, Rove would be the first one making the case that the Democrats belonged on the ash heap of history.

Rove says many of the races "went down to the wire." Indeed they did, and the Democrats won. That means the Republicans lost.

Rove says the GOP was affected by "stories of scandal and corruption, intensified by the unpopularity of the Iraq war and President Bush." Again, no. The Republicans were affected by actual scandal and corruption, intensified by public disgust over the Iraq war and widespread loathing of President Bush.

For some reason, there is no statement Rove can make that is too incredible for mainstream journalists to swallow whole. He and Bush spent the weeks leading up to the election insisting that the Republicans were going to retain their congressional majorities. The media reported these unbelievable and unsupported prognostications with complete credulity. They ignored the obvious fact that Bush and Rove were simply doing their jobs, which was to keep Republican voters from losing heart and failing to get out and vote on election day.

Likewise, the current "charm offensive" is being undertaken with similar goals. They do not want the GOP to fall into a fatalistic depression, so they are trying to encourage them with shouts of "nothing wrong here!" Additionally, Rove is engaging in a little image rehab. On November 6th, he was a genius. On November 8th, he was a clown. Obviously, he would like to be a genius again. Who wouldn't? His desire to spin the media is perfectly understandable. What isn't understandable is their incomprehensible willingness to be spun.

Neither party is presenting itself terribly well.