Karl Rove ‘Example How Not to Do It’
GOP strategist Ed Rollins opines, “I think the legacy is that Karl Rove will be a name that’ll be used for a long, long time as an example of how not to do it.”
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the meaning of “it” is.
If we’re talking of Rove as a campaign runner, it’s nonsensical. Getting George W. Bush elected governor twice and president twice is certainly more likely to be looked at as a positive model than, say, the career of Ed Rollins.
If, on the other hand, we’re speaking of Rove the domestic policy adviser, Rollins is on more solid ground. The politicization of everything, up to and including national security policy, had already been raised to odious heights under the Clinton administration. But Rove helped take it over the cliff, destroying the administration’s credibility and ability to govern.
Two related questions come to mind:
- How much of the blame goes to Rove, how much goes to Bush and other senior administration figures, and how much was simply the continuation of a trend? There’s no way of knowing how much of this would we have seen under a President Gore or a President Kerry.
- What lessons will be learned by those who follow? My suspicion is that will be one of optics rather than substance. That is, the focus will be on doing what Rove did but doing it more cleverly.
Ultimately, Rove’s name is likely to be forgotten and the failures of the Bush administration will be the president’s alone. Aside from the occasional cabinet secretary, presidential advisers simply disappear into the ether of history.