Rove Sees Bush as 2008 Asset

Rove Sees Bush as 2008 Asset Karl Rove is swimming against the currents of conventional wisdom, warning candidates that running against President Bush is a losing strategy, Joe Curl reports:

The president had been pummeled ever since Democrats retook control of Congress in January, but he has pushed ahead with his second-term agenda on issues ranging from opposing federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, pushing for peace in the Middle East and establishing security in Iraq. Some in his own party broke with him on the war, but as the “surge” takes hold and the president regains his footing — and with rising poll numbers, to boot — Mr. Bush looms large for Republican contenders next November.

[…]

Republican strategist Scott Reed says that what the “White House critics fondly referred to as Bush’s stubbornness” is beginning to pay dividends on a host of issues that voters care about, from the war in Iraq to a scientific breakthrough that shows embryos don’t need to be destroyed for stem-cell research.

[…]

Hovering at a dismal 29 percent approval rating just as Gen. David H. Petraeus, ground commander in Iraq, testified before Congress on the surge in September, Mr. Bush has since jumped to 36 percent in a poll late last month.

Mr. Rove said the president just received the best possible gift from the House’s most vocal war critic, Rep. John P. Murtha, who just returned from a trip to Iraq and stated flatly: “The surge is working.”

[…]

“I think that the [Iraq war] critics are going to be seen as small-minded and petty and wrong, and the president is going to be seen increasingly as having made a tough but correct decision about adding additional troops,” he said.

It’s a bold prediction, indeed.

He’s right, I think, that running against Bush is a poor strategy. Bush isn’t on the ballot and the choice is among those who are. It’s also true that there has been some good news and that Bush’s approval ratings are moving in a positive direction.

It goes far too far, however, to say that Bush is going to be an asset for the GOP. While things in Iraq are going much better than they were, they’re still not going well. Osama bin Laden is still at large and al Qaeda and the Taliban are both making a comeback. The president has accomplished little domestically.

It would be foolish for any of the Republican candidates to run on a platform of “as close as you can get to a third Bush term.”

Story via Political Wire. Image via Newsbusters.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Its funny because his statements today basically contradict his “advice” to Obama published in yesterday’s Financial Times.

    My question is why, all of a sudden, is Karl all over the place? This is a guy who would rarely engage the media in his official capacity. Sure, he may have more “freedom” now to make his views on things known.

    But it seems like he’s trying to dole out his wisdom in the press in an attempt to get hired by some campaign. The fact that he is being treated as “damaged goods” by the current Republican field of presidential candidates suggests that he is in a state of desperation.

  2. James Joyner says:

    My question is why, all of a sudden, is Karl all over the place?

    He’s a pundit now rather than a behind-the-scenes operative. His job now is to create buzz for himself. Before, it was to make his boss look good.

  3. Anderson says:

    It would be foolish for any of the Republican candidates to run on a platform of “as close as you can get to a third Bush term.”

    And yet, that’s exactly what Romney and Giuliani have been doing.

  4. SDM says:

    Rove’s job now is exactly the same as it was under Bush, which is to sow the media narrative with disingenuous, bad-faith information for the advancement of his party’s political power. It’s just that now people are more credulous because they think he’s acting as an “analyst” and not a hack.

    The Washington Times, incidentally, has exactly the same function as Rove.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I said back in 2003 that both Republicans and Democrats would be running against Bush in 2008. It looks likelier than ever that I was right. It may well be foolish but I think that’s what they’re going to do.

  6. Tano says:

    I don’t think this is rocket science.

    After 8 years of a president, who has an approval rating in the mid-30s, any candidate of the opposition party would be a fool not to tie his opponent to the incumbent administration and run against both.

    Any candidate of the incumbent party would be a fool not to run against the president, or at least clearly establish distance.

    Rove is after his own buzz, sure, but he is also working still for Bush (unofficially of course). What he is doing here is some legacy spade work.

  7. SavageView says:

    He’s right, I think, that running against Bush is a poor strategy. Bush isn’t on the ballot and the choice is among those who are.

    Of course, Republican nominees and Republican presidents have never run against prior Democratic presidents.

    … Bush’s approval ratings are moving in a positive direction.

    This, of course, is a false statement.

    It would be foolish for any of the Republican candidates to run on a platform of “as close as you can get to a third Bush term.”

    And, it would be equally foolish for the Democratic nominee not to run heavily against Bush as he is only merely hated by independents.

  8. Christopher says:

    Dave,

    You said “back in 2003”?!? How r we supposed to verify that? C’mon you’re jerking our chain!

    LOL jk

  9. marty arrowsmith says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

  10. C.Wagener says:

    James,

    I’m surprised by your statement that al Qaeda is making a comeback. Things are bleak for them in Iraq, their stated central front. They’ve lost men, money, logistics, intelligence, etc. They are looking more and more like they have been defeated and humiliated by a combination of Americans and locals.

    Pakistan has moved into Swat, with current (and admittedly of limited reliability) reports positive.

    Afghanistan certainly isn’t great, but that is partially a result of al Qaeda leaving Iraq and refocusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    I can certainly be accused of wearing rose colored glasses, but you seem to be wearing an arc welding mask.

  11. James Joyner says:

    I’m surprised by your statement that al Qaeda is making a comeback.

    Do a Google search for “al Qaeda comeback.”

  12. Dave Schuler says:

    You said “back in 2003”?!? How r we supposed to verify that? C’mon you’re jerking our chain!

    If the old Tacitus site were up, you could search for it in the comments there. That’s one of the several places I made the comment.

  13. C.Wagener says:

    Well I googled “al Qaeda comeback” and the articles are almost all along the lines of “they’ve been hurt badly but could potentially comeback”. Quite reasonable statements primarily from military people that don’t want another “mission accomplished moment”.

    You could write an article about the Miami Dolphins potential comeback next year, but that a huge difference from a comeback actually occurring.