Monday, August 13, 2007
Karl Rove has announced his resignation and the commentary, most of it partisan hackery, is flowing fast. I suspect that once that dies down an appreciation of Rove's true importance will emerge. Teamed with George W. Bush he won five successive historic elections -- two in Texas three at the national level. This string of unbroken Republican success so frustrated Democrats that they reverted to the most dishonest, nastiest, and most divisive political campaign since the Nixon era. Their main target was Rove whom they sought to destroy. Even so they were only able to eke out a marginal win in an off-year election and now Rove's harshest and most duplicitous critics have been disgraced.
And there was more than partisanship involved. Bush and Rove were always willing to reach across the aisle to achieve important reforms in education, in health care, in foreign affairs and elsewhere. Bush/Rove always swung for the fences and for six years they connected by building ties to reform-minded Democrats and moderates. The nation and the world have been transformed for the better by what they accomplished.
It was not until Democrats lost their third successive election to Bush and Rove in 2004 that the bipartisan record of achievement came to an end on the issue of social security reform. That was not Rove's fault. Democrat strategists felt that mindless obstructionism was their best chance to cripple the administration and to regain control of Congress. They were right, but the sheer duplicity and viciousness of their campaign may have permanently damaged American political culture.
Even in the face of Democrat obstructionism and destructive partisanship, Bush has been broadly successful. His domestic agenda may have stalled, but his foreign affairs record is one of the most significant in history. What is more things are turning his way. France and Germany, once his strongest opponents, are now governed by friends of Bush. Democrat attempts to cripple the war effort have come to naught. Global prosperity is accelerating. Real progress is being made in Iraq as the American military learns to fight and win a new kind of war. Relations with Asian powers have never in our history been better than now, and it is there, not in old Europe, that the mainstream of the future lies.
I think when all is said and done, when all the achievements are appreciated, Karl Rove will be seen as the most important political operative since his idol, Mark Hanna. I think he would be happy to be remembered as such.