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Karl Rove: Sarah Palin Lacks The ‘Gravitas’ Needed To Be President

The man credited with George W. Bush’s political success in 2000 and 2004 tells the London Telegraph that he doubts that Sarah Palin is up to the task of being President of the United States:

Karl Rove, the former senior adviser to George W Bush, has cast doubt on Sarah Palin’s viability as a White House candidate, questioning if the American people thought she had the “gravitas” for the “most demanding job in the world”.

Expressing the strongest public reservations about the conservative star made by any senior Republican figure, Mr Rove said it was unlikely that voters would regard someone starring in a reality show as presidential material.

In two weeks, the former governor of Alaska launches a cable television series exploring her home state’s wilderness.

“With all due candour, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of ‘that helps me see you in the Oval Office’,” Mr Rove told The Daily Telegraph in an interview.

He added that the promotional clip for Sarah Palin’s Alaska could be especially detrimental to any political campaign. It features the mother of five in the great outdoors saying: “I would rather be doing this than in some stuffy old political office.”

Mr Rove, who remains a major force on the US political scene, also implied that Mrs Palin lacked the stomach for the rigours of a presidential primary campaign, which will begin early next year before the first polls in 2012.

In all honesty, I am not at all certain how much appearing in a reality show, or sending your daughter off to appear on Dancing With The Stars, is really going to diminish the public’s general opinion of Sarah Palin, mostly because she’s viewed so negatively already that’s it’s hard to believe it could get any worse:

With unfavorable numbers like this, it’s hard to think that something as silly as a TLC reality show could really drag Palin’s reputation down any further. Nonetheless, Rove has a point when he says this:

[Rove] said Mrs Palin had done a “terrific job” in 2008 when Senator John McCain took her from near obscurity to the vice-presidential nomination, but added: “Being the vice-presidential nominee on the ticket is different from saying ‘I want to be the person at the top of the ticket’.

“There are high standards that the American people have for it [the presidency] and they require a certain level of gravitas, and they want to look at the candidate and say ‘that candidate is doing things that gives me confidence that they are up to the most demanding job in the world’.”

Clearly, Rove does not believe that Palin is up to that job, but one wonders why he’s speaking out so bluntly now, especially after he was so roundly attacked by the grassroots after he questioned the nomination of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit has his theories:

(1) This is pure payback for Palin needling him on the night of O’Donnell’s victory, calling him a “good old boy” who’s part of the GOP establishment “machine.” (2) This is him trying to run down a formidable presidential contender so that his own candidate of choice in the primary will benefit. Who that candidate might be, I don’t know, and maybe Rove doesn’t know yet either. But Daniels is, of course, a Bush alum, and Rove had some very nice things to say about him just a few weeks ago. (3) This is a ploy to try to reorient Republicans who are leery about Palin back towards the “establishment” and away from the tea-party grassroots. It’s one thing for the average conservative joe to harbor doubts about her, but if a guy who helped get George Bush elected twice is hint-hinting that she’s disqualifying herself by doing this, it may goose the perception among undecideds that she’s unelectable.

It may well be a combination of all three, or at least the last two that are motivating Rove. At the very least, it is a preview of what we can expect to see from the Establishment GOP if Sarah Palin does run for the nomination. It will be an attack, subtle or not, on her qualifications and her (lack of a real) record. Whether it will work or not is questionable given the fact that Palin seems to continue to have very high favorablility ratings among Republicans even while she is viewed unfavorably by the country as a whole. Given that, it’s unclear that attacking Palin among Republican voters will have the impact that Rove quite obviously hopes that it will.

Nonetheless, the Stop Palin movement has begun, and if the GOP wants to win the White House in 2012, it would be wise to sign on.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. floyd says:

    Hilarious headline! There’s the obvious……. and then there’s that part about pretending you think Karl Rove has “gravitas” when it suits you!

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  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Frankly, if Palin is the nominee, I just hope she picks a good VP. That’s because I’m operating under the assumption that she’ll resign about 18 months in to the job.

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  3. Alex,

    If she picks the right running mate, and promises that on July 20, 2014 she will resign from office, then that might be enough to win her the election after all.

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  4. mpw280 says:

    Ah but then so did Obama which is why he picked bumbling Joe to be VP, to add some gravitas, or something anyway. Yeah right. mpw

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  5. Rose says:

    Dems Ask Pentagon for Info on Potential Obama Challengers
    The nine Republicans that Democrats are seeking information on are former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska; former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.; Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss.; Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.; former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.; Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/exclusive-democrats-pentagon-information-potential-obama-challengers/story?id=11985974

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  6. An Interested Party says:

    Interesting how the last refuge of so many Palin defenders is to bring the president’s name up in some derogatory way…of course, that’s as close as Palin will ever get to the presidency…

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  7. Rose,

    There’s nothing illegal or nefarious in that story. This is typical opposition research. Everyone does it

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  8. alanstorm says:

    Interested Party, you must be a liberal – you have managed to miss the point completely, which I find to be a defining characteristic.

    1) Obama’s been in office coming up on two years, and thus far has failed to demonstrate any “gravitas” or, indeed, ability, in that office.

    2) No one who voted for Obama has any standing in any way, shape or form whatsoever to question anyone else’s qualifications for office. The man had no resume during the campaign and has roundly failed to demonstrate any ability or inclination to learn since.

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  9. Davebo says:

    “No one who voted for Obama has any standing in any way, shape or form whatsoever to question anyone else’s qualifications for office.”

    Exactly! It’s not like his Daddy had been president!

    And how many ill conceived trillion dollar wars has he started? The guy is obviously a loser.

    We all know who Dubya’s Gravitas Avatar was. And it’s not like he took advantage of the situation to make the big bucks for he and his (or even bothered to hide the fact).

    Indeed, we get the government we deserve. Judging by internet postings, we’re a nation of idiots.

    (Not you Doug, well, at least not some of the time)

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  10. reid says:

    “1) Obama’s been in office coming up on two years, and thus far has failed to demonstrate any “gravitas” or, indeed, ability, in that office.”

    Quite possibly the most partisan, detached-from-reality comment ever on this site. And that’s saying a lot.

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  11. floyd says:

    reid;
    Which one? Your’s or his? [LOL]

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  12. mpw280 says:

    Hey davebo at least Bush ran a state for a while before he ran for President, and at least he wasn’t voting present to each and every bill in the state house and then spending two years running for president while he is supposed to be representing his state. Oh what the hell, Bush was a republican while Obama is a liberal so different rules apply, as we all know. mpw

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  13. anjin-san says:

    > Hey davebo at least Bush ran a state for a while before he ran for President

    And he went on to be a historically bad President. His father had the best resume of any President in history, and he went on to be a mediocre President.

    You were trying to make a point? Or are you having too much fun playing the right wing victim?

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  14. ponce says:

    “after he was so roundly attacked by the grassroots ”

    Does anyone really believe the Tea Party is “grassroots?”

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  15. Davebo says:

    mpw280 says: “I’m an idiot concerning Texas politics.”

    Seriously, Bush ran a state? Do you have any idea what powers a governor of Texas has?

    Have you ever heard the name Bob Bullock?

    Probably not, but hey, Dubya “ran a state right?”

    Texans like myself know he could barely manage to ran a make believe ranch.

    Different rules don’t apply, but apparently different realities do.

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  16. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alex, why would you write something as stupid as what you wrote? I know you can match accomplishments with Sarah Pailn it is just that you match up very poorly. You are not capable of doing what she has done and are unqualified to do what she will do. It amazes me to no end you have claimed to be educated and you write tripe like you do. Go the F up.

    Palin has at least as much gravitas as George w. Bush, and she has a plan. Doubt her at your own risk.;

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  17. Highlander says:

    Karl Rove? Karl Rove? Oh yea….now I remember….he is the guy that is credited with engineering the disaster called the GW Bush administration.

    And what was the result of Karl’s guidance? Well for one,an explosion in government spending, that genius collaboration with Teddy Kennedy called “No child left behind”, and what else? Oh yea, two disastrous wars that have cost US trillions of dollars( no doubt while Georgie Bush and Darth Vader Cheney ripped off a billion or so $, just to shore up their personal IRAs).

    Not to mention just the “wee” economic disaster we are now suffering through, and which by the way, made the near miraculous rise of Barak O possible, and all the wonderful things coming from that..

    That would be the same “Carly Boy” who packed his office with homosexuals, while at the same time whispering sweet nothings to the naive Religious Right types about how Georgie Boy was on their side, and would put those nasty SODOMITES in their place.

    Yea…Karl is a real man of integrity! We should listen to him…after all look at how much his leadership has move America forward in the last 10 years.

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  18. M. Bouffant says:

    Yes, too damn bad Rove wasn’t a little more worried about Jr. Bush’s qualifications before deciding to hitch himself to that wagon.

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  19. rodney dill says:

    Well if we wanted a cheerleader that was only an empty shell as far as experience and personality was concerned…. Oh wait a minute, that’s what we put in office last election.

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  20. narciso says:

    Has Alex become so ignorant that he forgot the mechanism that the Democrats used to turn her own ethics reforms, that arose in the wake of the William Allen scandal, against, a copy of how Obama actually succeeded to office, not by his abiilty but by disqualifying his opponents.

    W had his faults, but he was well meaning, ironically for trying to deal with the detritus that Clinton had bequeathed him, the collapse of the tech bubble and the rise of AQ, Rove should reflect on his genius, somehow got him into a situation where he narrowly missed indictment
    and he had to take a hiatus from his position as deputy chief of staff, which came from trying
    to explain anything to MSM reporters

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  21. Don L says:

    This man is a genius? The idiot doesn’t even realize that all of America (the left and the right) knows she has at least one thing going for her – and that’s GRAVITAS! (Apparently that’s what they fear -because with that and a couple of foam pillars – it’s enough to get you into the White House (look at Obama)

    What a small man -this Rahm Emanual of the right. He goes into my fallen heroes file -next to John McCain, Arnold Scwarzenegger and the present GOP leadership.

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  22. Rock says:

    Wasn’t President Bush’s nickname for Rove “Turd Blossom”

    President Bush was right. Rove is a Turd Blossom of the first magnitude.

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  23. Two quick thoughts

    1. “Gravitas” is clearly in the eye of the beholder, but regardless of what one might have said about Obama v. Palin in terms of resume in 2008, the fact of the matter is that in 2012 it would be the President of the United States versus a 1/2 term Governor of Alaska. Only an utterly blind partisan thinks that they can still make resume comparisons and say that the two are roughly equal.

    2. Despite what some of the commenters think about Doug and/or Rove the point remains: if Rove is doing this it is for strategic reasons and it matter because Rove still matters within key sector of the GOP–that’s the point of the post and the headline.

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  24. McGehee says:

    Interesting how the last refuge of so many Palin defenders is to bring the president’s name up in some derogatory way…of course, that’s as close as Palin will ever get to the presidency…

    And three comments later an Obama defender posts:

    “No one who voted for Obama has any standing in any way, shape or form whatsoever to question anyone else’s qualifications for office.”

    Exactly! It’s not like his Daddy had been president!

    Exemplifying what I love about the comment threads here at OTB, which I make sure to check out at least once every three or four weeks.

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  25. Steve,

    I’m glad someone gets the point I was trying to make………

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  26. john personna says:

    Yes, too damn bad Rove wasn’t a little more worried about Jr. Bush’s qualifications before deciding to hitch himself to that wagon.

    He probably would have been fine, with a less crazy VP.

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  27. john personna says:

    (GWB wasn’t the best President, but we’d all have been much better off without the worst ideas coming from Cheney. And at the time Rove looked at them only through the filter of future elections. Was a war good? What did it do to election prospects?)

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  28. john personna says:

    Related: Tea Party founder: “Tea Party is a joke”

    It began as a movement to take back the United States from corrupt politicians. The Tea Party movement has been hijacked by Republicans and is now all about guns, gods and gays.

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  29. Franklin says:

    Hmmm, Rove vs. Palin, who do I root against more? Maybe I’ll just get some popcorn and enjoy.

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  30. Nightrider says:

    I guess Rove never heard of Bedtime for Bonzo.

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  31. Nightrider says:

    It is just the age old Republican balancing act of using the hordes but not being taken over by them.

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  32. […] is that the choices she has made, from resigning mid-term from the governor’s office to starring in a reality TV show, are not the kinds of things that one ought to be doing if one is seeking higher office. And, to […]

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  33. mantis says:

    Palin doesn’t even have what it takes to be governor of the Alaskan National Parks (also known as “Alaska”). That’s why she quit.

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  34. sam says:

    She certainly has enough gravitas to win the Republican nomination.

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