Rove Derangement Syndrome on 'Meet the Press'
Ron Brownstein is a liberal. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.
On Sunday, the national affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a liberal notwithstanding, went on NBC's "Meet the Press" to discuss the just-announced imminent departure of Karl Rove from the White House.
Like many of the really disingenuous liberal shills in the media, Brownstein chose to ignore extremely pertinent facts as he disparaged the soon-to-be-former Administration member:
Well, I think they came into office with a very clear strategy that linked together both their legislative and their political vision, and on both fronts their focus was on unifying their own party. And they accepted polarization of the country as the price for mobilizing their own side. And in his first term, in Bush's first term, this worked pretty well. Republicans in Congress voted together at a rate not seen since the beginning of the 20th century, and he was able to pass much more than seemed possible, given the size of his victory in 2000 and their majority in Congress. And in 2002 and 2004, they generated an enormous turnout of the Republican base, and they were able to, as Karl Rove said, to gain seats and to win re-election, winning a majority for the first time since 1988.
Accepted polarization? Really? Isn't Brownstein conveniently ignoring the No Child Left Behind Act, a bill initially sponsored in the Senate by Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) that passed both chambers in 2001 -- with the president's assistance, mind you -- with huge bipartisan support? Is this what Brownstein views as polarization?
Or how about the Medicare Act of 2003 which, for the first time in history, afforded seniors prescription drug coverage? Since many conservatives were very much against this bill, as it was seen as expanding an entitlement program which desperately needs to be reduced as the baby boomers near retirement or face serious default, how does Brownstein see this as polarization?
Yet, the real disgrace was still to come:
But in the second term, I think the limits of this strategy have become increasingly apparent. Even when he won re-election, at his high point, his margin of victory measured as a share of the popular vote, was the smallest ever in American history for a successfully re-elected president. Left him very little margin for error, little, little cushion of good will when things started to go against him. And you saw also, in the second term, that the price of focusing so much on mobilizing their base was at times-Terri Schiavo, Social Security-pull-putting forward an agenda that drove away-energized Democrats and drove away independents. And it came together, I think, in 2006. They suffered a severe erosion among independent voters in both the House races and the big Senate races. They've become more of a regional party under Karl Rove. They're strong in the culturally conservative parts of the country, but in the Northeast and the West Coast there-they've lost a lot of ground.
So on balance, I think that he has been a brilliant tactician in the service of a fundamentally flawed strategy, and I don't believe another president will try to govern in a manner that accepts so much division in the country as the price of exciting their own side.
Unbelievable derangement and revisionist history. First, regardless of the margin of victory in 2004, at least President Bush received more than 50 percent of the votes cast, a feat Bill Clinton never achieved.
Second, it is quite likely the failure of President Bush to achieve Social Security reform in 2005 was what enabled Democrats to wrest control of the political megaphone. Many conservatives believe that if Bush had followed through with his campaign pledge to fix this failing retirement insurance program, and truly fought the resistance mounted by the left and their media minions to preserve the status quo, he wouldn't have become a lame duck so quickly.
Third, Brownstein completely ignored the real historic feat accomplished by Rove and Bush: becoming the first president since 1936 to win re-election and expand majorities in both chambers of Congress. It's been 68 years since this was last achieved - well before Brownstein was born - and yet the LA Times correspondent chose not to recognize it at all.
In the end, at the national political level, Rove went a remarkable 3-1. If Brownstein believes such success, and the tactics required to achieve it, won't be emulated in the future, he's sadly mistaken.