Thursday, September 07, 2006


Who Is The Democrats' Karl Rove?

Perhaps more to the point, if the Democrats had a Karl Rove -- or, rather, a secret diabolical genius, manipulating everything behind the scenes, which is who many people seem to think Rove is -- what would he say?

(Let me add, for the record, that I don't know Rove personally, and I haven't the slightest idea what sort of evil diabolical genius he may or may not be. My personal belief is that he's a clever political strategist, just as prone to making stupid mistakes as the rest of us. I will submit, however, that some members of the American Left do believe him to be an Evil Diabolical Genius, and have built it up into a full-blown conspiracy theory -- and, like many conspiracy theories, this one cannot be disproved. When things go well for Republicans, it's because diabolical Rove is pulling strings behind the scenes. When things go badly for Republicans, it's because Rove is trying to lull Democrats into a false sense of security, so that he can lure them in for the kill -- or perhaps he's trying to punish moderate Republicans for not siding with him, or something. In other words, no matter what happens, it bolsters the theory, helping people believe that they are powerless, or that they are opposed by Absolute Evil, or that they've finally figured out how Bush the Evil Idiot keeps running rings around everybody, or whatever feels good to a particular conspiracy theorist.)

A good many people do seem to believe this -- and some of them, despairing of not having their own Karl Rove to be an evil manipulator behind the scenes, have tried to create one. The Democratic Karl Rove, it seems, would say things somewhat like this:
In the past months, it's clear that you've avoided the Wrath of Rove by having nuanced, complex, and varied solutions to the problem in Iraq... all just to avoid the "cut and run" label. This is weak, and the polls support this assessment. Oh sure -- ducking the issue might just work if everything continues to get worse, but what if things moderate or even get slightly better in the next 10 weeks? What then?

For the midterms this fall, follow this recipe to help ensure that your current leads are sustainable, even if things stop getting worse....
(emphasis added)

This would be funny, if it wasn't such a serious topic. People really are hoping that the war will continue to get worse -- that more American troops will die, for example, or that terror attacks will kill large numbers of innocent Iraqis -- because, if things start to actually get better, it could mean a Democratic loss at the polls!

I'm reminded of Michael Moore's famous cry, just after Sept. 11 2001, that the people of the World Trade Center didn't deserve to die -- because they were primarily Democrats who didn't vote for Bush! (I've sometimes wondered -- does that make the 9/11 deaths at the Pentagon somehow more acceptable?)

The ersatz Democratic Karl Rove continues:
Strategy #2:
Do not get sucked into solving the problem in Iraq. You can't solve the problem, because you don't have access to the information you need to make a solid policy proposal. Only the Republican Party has full access to this information. And only the American people can give you the keys to access this critical information by voting you into the majority in Congress this fall. Only then can you come up with an alternative plan. Let your constituents know that if you gain majority status, you will instantly be chairing all of the committees, and finally restoring the balance of powers in Washington that should have been serving us all along.
My God, isn't that beautiful? Don't worry, Democrats, that you don't have any coherent plan to offer as an alternative... because it's not your fault. The evil Bushies have been keeping secrets from you. (So much for the House Intelligence Committee, I suppose, and the Armed Forces Committee, and so forth. Remember the select group of Senators and Congressmen, of both parties, that were kept informed about the NSA wiretapping scheme, and were content to keep quiet about it until the New York Times exposed the story, at which point people were suddenly outraged?)

And I just love the advice -- explain to the American people that, if they blindly vote for you, then you'll tell them what your plan is, and why voting for you was a good idea! (Buying a pig in a poke -- oh sure, that will go over well with the voters.)

Perhaps the problem with the Democratic Karl Rove is that he's just not very well informed.

* * *

In a different blog post, the Democratic Karl Rove (DKR) argues, surprisingly, that it is not to Democrats' advantage to support Lamont over Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate race this year. And, in some places, he comes rather close to making sense:
Bloggers and concerned Democrats who support Lamont, you are falling into a trap. You are supporting a candidate based on a policy instead of his principles. Lamont appears to be a gimmick candidate who is benefiting from a populist campaign focused on a politically-charged topic. Lieberman might not have a popular position in his continued support for the Iraq War, but the Democratic Party will be stronger when it supports candidates of principle and integrity -- even when they appear wrong-headed on specific issues.
See what I mean? The DKR is advocating principle and integrity of character here, and more power to him that he is.

Or is he?
How could Lieberman be principled, you might ask, when he supports such a horrible war policy and such a horrible President?
Oops -- here the mask starts to slip. Is it truly necessary for DKR to explain how someone can be principled, even though he has the utter audacity to disagree with you? Apparently it is necessary.
He can be principled because while he continues to support the President in the Iraq War, he still believes -- rightly or wrongly -- that his position is the informed, mature, reasonable approach to seeing things through. If he were not principled, he might be seen careening and vacillating with the popular sentiments of the day, month or year. If he were not principled, he might be easily labeled as, say, a flip-flopper. If the man's a hawk (possibly due to an allegiance to Israel, among other things), then the principled thing for him to do is to be honest about his beliefs on the matter, no matter the popularity.
I'm sorely tempted to discuss the borderline antisemitism here -- the man is "possibly" a hawk because of his allegiance to Israel, i.e. his loyalty to Israel dictates his domestic beliefs, i.e. his loyalty to Israel is more important to him than his loyalty to the United States. That's a heck of an accusation to make against a sitting three-term U.S. Senator, who has been active in American politics, just about continuously, since 1970. Why would anyone question his loyalty to the United States, if not for the fact that Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew?

But that's practically a minor issue. Watch this:
It's easy to see how Democrats might mistrust a politician who seems to be principled. After all, President Bush's ability to appear principled to the average voter was a significant factor in his ability to be almost elected and then re-almost elected. But, just because Bush turned out to be a politically savvy double-talker who merely appears to be principled doesn't mean that Democrats such as Lieberman -- who also appear principled -- should not to be trusted or supported. Conversely, it is arguable that any Democrat supporting the war today has quite a difficult position to manage politically. To contrast, what difficult political positions is Lamont taking?
Now we're back in fever-swamp territory. President Bush was "almost elected" and then "re-almost elected" (what the heck does that mean?). Some Democrats cannot get over the election of 2000; they're the ones with the "re-elect President Gore" bumper stickers, and so forth. It seems that DKR is one of them. (The "stolen election" of 1876 doesn't seem to bother them, even though it was a lot more contentious than 2000 was; one doesn't see too many "re-elect President Tilden" signs these days.)

Please note also that people who disagree with progressive Democrats can only "appear" to principled. But sometimes people who "appear" to be principled can nonetheless be trusted -- just as, a paragraph ago, there did not seem to be anything wrong with being a "flip-flopper"; the problem was appearing to be a flip-flopper and being labeled a flip-flopper. It's all about appearances, in other words -- someone who claims to have principles and integrity, even though he doesn't toe the Democratic party line, is at best a weird zoo animal, fascinating (and a little disturbing) to look at.

There's plenty more where this came from... and all I can say is, if this is the best Karl Rove the Democrats can come up with, then the real Karl Rove has nothing whatsoever to fear from them. They don't understand him nearly as well as he understands them.

UPDATE: Would the Democrat's Karl Rove be this effective, do you suppose? (Hat tip: Jeff Harrell.)

UPDATE II: Or how about this?
MORE: [Instapundit] reader Dale Harkey suspects a Rovian plot, given that the full [NIE] document actually says that we're doing pretty well:

The set-up is oh so beautiful. Rove (it has to be Rove, right?) has the worst-case-scenario portions of a generally favorable NIE leaked to a gullible and traitorous media salaciously eager to run with it. The left-wing nuts explode in glee and establish their bonafides with all manner of stupid utterances. And since it is easily observed to be a politically motivated leak, (here comes the left hook the appeasers have leaned into because they can’t see it coming) what more justification can there be than to de-classify the original so the whole picture is available (and oh by the way, get the good stuff out there before the elections.) They sure couldn’t just hand the media a copy of the NIE and say, “hey, check this out, it says we’re doing okay,” could they? A dirty trick inside a dirty trick that turns the passion of the Bush-haters onto itself.

Is Karl Rove really that smart?

MORE STILL: Maybe so, as John Wixted notes that -- the post-leak critics having built up the NIE into a document of vast importance and implicit reliability -- they have to cope with this angle:

On the plus side for President Bush, it says that if United States military forces withdrew anytime soon from Iraq, then al Qaida would use that perceived victory to recruit new members. That's bad news for any congressional Democrats who advocate removing troops in the near term.

He notes that this is sinking in (the quote above is actually from Tim Noah) and observes: "In other words, that vague little 3-page snippet from the NIE completely undermines the only substantive suggestion that Democrats have brought to the table with regard to Iraq (namely, a timetable for withdrawal)."

Pretty amazing, when you think about it.

And no, I don't see this as a Rove conspiracy doublewhammy. (It takes a conspiracy theorist, truly, to see Rove's fingerprints every time the Democrats shoot themselves in the foot by behaving like Democrats.) It's notable that others do, though.

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