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Posted by on Jun 17, 2006 in At TMV | 11 comments

Karl Rove’s Plans For 2006 (UPDATED)

The Washington Post outlines White House political guru Karl Rove’s game-plan for 2006: the same as in 2000 and 2004. Aggressively hammer in the theme that the Democrats are weak on national security and arouse the GOP’s base on hot-button issues so they flock to the polls:

Now Rove has the freedom to concentrate on preserving the GOP majorities in Congress, and an opportunity to purge the mistakes of the past two years. Based on recent Rove speeches and interviews with senior GOP officials, his plan for the midterm elections echoes the strategy he plotted out in 2002 and 2004, adapted to a new and more difficult environment. He hopes to make the election a choice between the philosophies of the two parties, especially on national security, rather than a referendum on Bush’s performance. He also aims to stoke the Republican base with such issues as tax cuts, same-sex marriage and judicial appointments. Rove declined to comment for this article.

So there you have it: it truly WILL BE a case of “changing the subject” as he veers the debate away from Bush’s record and towards whether the Democrats are soft on military issues and by implication and most likely overt surrogate statements soft on terrorism. If you transplanted this to the 1950s you’d have “soft on communism” instead. It’s a new cold war campaign for a new cold war era where the Republicans will run as the party that can save the United States from its biggest, gravest threat: the Democrats.

The Post notes that Rove for the first time faces a Republican party with a creaky coalition “at odds over immigration and spending” and that Rove has been working to reunite it. And, the paper notes, what happens in 2006 will be his positive or negative legacy to the GOP:

“The results of the 2006 election will be the final verdict of his standing with the president and his party,” said Tad Devine, who was a senior strategist in the campaigns of Democratic presidential nominees Al Gore and John F. Kerry. “If the Republicans hold the House and Senate, Karl’s stock will go up, and if they lose it, the cloud that hung over him for a long time will return.”
In reality, the paper notes, members of both parties believe Rove’s stature is largely intact. But some of his efforts such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan have hurt the Republicans.

And then there was the fiasco called the plan to “reform” Social Security:

“When you look at the history of this second term, the Social Security proposal and selling of it . . . was a big tactical mistake,” said a former White House official, who would discuss internal operations only under the condition of anonymity. “The problem was the opportunity cost: When Bush was busy selling Social Security ineffectively, the numbers on Iraq were dropping precipitously.”

And there’s a mention of a popular theory that has been out there for some time:

Some Republicans said Rove’s preoccupation was partly responsible for the debacle of White House counsel Harriet Miers’s failed nomination to the Supreme Court last fall. Conservatives loathed the choice and eventually forced Bush to pull her nomination, a low point for his presidency.

“That really damaged Bush,” said William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, who added that conservatives routinely tell the president that the Miers pick was the moment they started to question him. “It was not an accident that it happened at the height of the [CIA leak probe], when Rove was at his weakest.”

So Rove is back in the saddle again. But has the kind of horse changed?

Even so, the combination of staff changes, the failure of the Social Security plan and the distraction of the leak case allowed other aides such as Bolten and adviser Dan Bartlett to rise in status and influence with Bush, the officials said. Rove remains a powerful force but one whose judgments are checked by Bolten, who is considered a more forceful chief of staff than his predecessor, Andrew H. Card Jr.; by Bartlett; and by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

And, indeed, that is a reality: Rove has a proven record of running masterful (if your definition of “masterful” is winning as the bottom line, which it is in politics) campaigns. The other reality is that the Democrats now clearly see him headed his way and know the general outlines of what he intends to do to demonize them and whip up the party base in 2006. Do they have a plan? And, if there is a plan, is it tough enough to handle what Rove has in store for them?

BUT THAT’S JUST OUR OPINION. FOR A FEW OTHERS ON KARL ROVE BE SURE TO READ: The always original The Heretik, Redneck Liberal, Bark Bark Woof Woof, Impolitical, The Horse’s Mouth, Talk Left, Patriotic Dissent, Americablog, On Topic

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • Self Educating Citizen

    Karl has the help of an organized gang of criminals.

    Praising a “master” is easy for boot lickers,

    when the actual causal connection to reality is not


  • Kim Ritter

    He may be a total sleazebag, while I can’t prove it I believe he got Bush to pull strings with the justice dept so that he would not be indicted, but he does present a real threat to the Democrats. They have historically withered under his underhanded tactics. When he portrays them as flip-floppers who cut and run and are soft on terrorism, his guy comes off as an unwavering defender of the American way. In such a way, Rove is able to cut off any real debate on the issues, and shield voters from the true differences between the parties. A perfect example of how this works is the resolution in the House this week to support the Iraq War, War on Terror and our troops. It was with us or against us. The false choice is Rove’s forte. Diabolical? Probably. Reprehensible? Definitely. Effective? Absolutely.

    There is no way Bush or the Republican party could have afforded to go into ’06 without their attack dog, Karl Rove.

  • He’s simply amoral, dishonest, and well-organized. Though bright, he is hardly a super-genius, and he is frequently wrong… Still, one can hardly argue with his very successful track record.

    Anyway, his strategy is “divide and conquer”… exploit fissures, appeal to the base, MINIMIZE voter turnout to our side, and suppress the other side (legally or otherwise).

    The responses necessary to combat Rove are, in order, (1) maximize voter registration, including vast numbers of new voters and assuring the legal rights of existing voters; (2) run basically credible candidates, such as those who already hold office in a given locale; (3) run on a minimum number of issues that distinguish the particular candidate from his opponent, (4) avoid stupid mistakes (such as Francine Busby’s last minute gaffes), (5) avoid stupid mistakes and (6) avoid stupid mistakes. At some point, voter suppression efforts will fail against a landslide. By rights, ’06 ought to be a landslide for Dems in any event…

    That’s not how you bet, of course.

  • CaseyL

    “Avoid stupid mistakes” is a false strategy. The GOP will make shit up if there’s nothing else to attack.

    Unless the stupid mistakes you refer to are “don’t respond to attacks,” in which case I’m with you all the way. Kerry was utterly stupid to play Queensbury Rules when the Swiftboat liars got wall-to-wall coverage by a lazy, dishonest MSM.

    Democrats need to be able to jump on Rovian tactics with hobnailed boots. Since there’s not a GOP candidate breathing who isn’t a corrupt lying hack, and since there’s hardly a GOP candidate who doesn’t have some deep dark secrets in the closet, Dems should counterattack.

    I don’t agree that negative campaigning puts people off. There’s a difference between negative campaigning and smear-jobs. Negative campaigning on the issues will work. Negative campaigning on the issues gets peoples’ attention, draws them into the debate, and makes them care about the election results.

  • Please cut the crap. Begala, Carville, and Shrum did the same kind of stuff when Clinton was in power. You clowns are just upset because your side isn’t in the White House.

    Jesus, if this weren’t so transparent, it would be hilarious.

  • Joe

    FYI since I’ve split my ticket in a zillion elections this isn’t a question of in my case being on ANYONE’s side. Why? Because I don’t belong to ANY party — and I was one of those people who were called “Reagan Democrats” but I also had been a registered Republican at one point. Cut and Run is basically labeling a whole section of Americans cowards — a somewhat updated version of McCarthyism. In the end, it probably will mean that it IS my side because if I had to vote today I would definitely cast an across-the-boards protest vote against this kind of politics. We’ll have a lot more to say and write about this as the campaign unfolds. I suspect this will mean that GWB WILL get back his base but continue to lose independent voters and if the Democrats don’t vote in sufficient numbers (which could happen since some Democrats are quite preoccupied with working to get rid of other Democrats) it could work. Throwing out Begala and Carville who are also practioners of no-holds-barred politics as doing the same thing Rove is doing now doesn’t quite work here because I don’t remember Clinton accusing Republicans of in effect being traitors. This is why the GOP is going to keep losing people in the center who aren’t shoved into the right or left. And to short-circuit what I expect will come next: no I have not been someone who has been against the war or in agreement with those who want an immediate pullout. So you better find another pigeon hole. You can feel as I do and feel it is absolutely reprehensible that Rove is going to push the line that anyone who asks questions about the war is a coward. He’s not using the “c” and “t” words but everyone knows that’s what he’s doing. We all have the power to vote for or against and in my case right now I would vote against because it totally turns me off — and I am not on the antiwar left. But that’s just me…but just me does have a vote and I vote every time. Please let us know in comments where under President Bill Clinton Shrum, Carville and Begala suggested the Republicans were basically cowards and (by implication) traitors who weren’t interested in protecting the security of the United States.

  • CaseyTexas

    I’m a new visitor to your site so I have no knowledge of the normal tone of your posters. If this offends anyone, which this is not intended to do, my apologies in advance. I am trying to bring this issue to the attention of as many centrist-types as possible, as I greatly fear that the issue is being greatly misread, and unless rectified there will be no chance of Democratic gains in 2006

    The issue is illegal immigration.

    The Democratic Party is perceived as the “open borders, come on in and use our tax dollars and take our jobs” crowd. Unless Democratic candidates begin speaking strongly on this issue, there will be no gains in 2006. The Busby/Bilbray race is axiomatic here.

    Yes, I know this is a complex issue, but for the average American, it boils down to this: Do we intend to guard our borders and enforce our laws or not. The Bush Administration is incredibly weak on this issue.

    Saving blue-collar jobs, keeping wages up, reducing the growth of social spending, ensuring that workers and employers play by the rules, and securing the border. Why most moderate Democrats can’t frame the illegal immigration debate in these terms is beyond me. Moderate Republicans sure can. The center will vote right on this, and it is the make or break issue for 2006.

  • Don in Canada

    Please cut the crap. Begala, Carville, and Shrum did the same kind of stuff when Clinton was in power. You clowns are just upset because your side isn’t in the White House.

    Let’s see:

    – Clinton lied about receiving oral sex
    – Bush lied about the cause for taking the US to war; his administration’s officers lied about outing a CIA agent working on Middle Eastern WMD programs

    – During the Lewinsky scandal, you couldn’t turn on a radio or TV without having the newest details blasted at you
    – In the Bush years, you can’t turn on a TV or Radio without hearing how his numbers ought to be bouncing back any day now

    – Clinton’s indiscretions resulted in dry cleaning bill
    – Bush’s ‘mistakes’ have a 4-figure body count in US troops alone.

    There’s a bit of a disparity here…

  • CaseyL wrote:

    “Democrats need to be able to jump on Rovian tactics with hobnailed boots.”


    And doing that, they need to turn out in large numbers, in unison, making a whole lot of noise. Getting in front of cameras and microphones, going on talk shows, writing op-eds and letters to editors.

    They need to do those things dependably whenever Rove and and the right-wing noise machine attacks — anytime, every time, all the time, no exceptions.

  • The reason Democrats can’t call the G.O.P. cowards is because the G.O.P. isn’t. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    Anyways, I’m going to keep it short and sweet and say that while Rove’s tactics may be contraversial, we all know they work, and if the American people aren’t smart enough to notice that then maybe that’s the real problem. I will be the first to say that I lean to the right on almost all issues, but you have to admit that if most Americans were smart enough to notice that I think we wouldn’t be having this problem with political strategists. That’s beginning to become a big problem in society today.

  • Kim Ritter

    I think a lot of the problem has to do with how Americans get their news. A lot of politicking is delivered in 60 second sound bites, which do not particularly favor a nuanced view or complicated issues, and can deliver an unfortunate amount of partisan spin. Americans are lazy-they don’t turn out to vote in large numbers, and few do more than watch the evening news. Rove is an expert at destroying an opponent in a 60 second sound bite.

    Another problem facing Dems, is fundraising. I live in the DC area and here even the most mediocre Republican candidate has the advantage of multiple fundraisers by Bush, Rove, Cheney, McCain and even Laura Bush. They may not do well in national polls, but they are first-rate campaigners, and have raided a ton of cash for congressional candidates in their party. Dems only have Gore and Clinton, both of whom are wrapped up in their own, separate causes. It would be a shame if the Republicans win both houses again because of this weakness.

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    BLOG NAME: The Heretik

    He is, he is, he is, well, Karl Rove.
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