By many calculations, Democrats are ready to make big gains in the midterm elections, enough to take over the House and possibly the Senate. But White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten says there is one reason he is feeling upbeat amid so much Republican gloom.I am particularly intrigued by the part I bolded, about Republicans feeling that Rove's strategy is "polarizing." Well, no duh. What's telling is that they apparently only consider this a problem if it loses elections. The DLC wing of the Democratic party establishment has the opposite problem: They have embraced a Republican-lite philosophy of right-wing pandering and capitulation in the name of winning elections. Of course, in their case, it doesn't actually win elections, but we'll let that pass - they do.
"I believe Karl Rove," Bolten said in an interview in his West Wing office Friday. "Karl Rove, somewhere inside that massive brain of his, has figured out the political landscape more clearly than the entire collection of conventional-wisdom pundits and pollsters in the entire city of Washington."
That was true for two elections in a row, in 2002 and 2004, and President Bush's senior adviser has insisted to West Wing colleagues and party faithful alike that it will be again. But Rove is just eight days from having his genius designation revoked -- or upgraded to platinum status.
Even within Rove's own party, expectations are widespread that the Nov. 7 elections will mark a repudiation for the base-rallying, contrast-drawing brand of politics with which he and Bush have been so closely aligned. But it is a mark of the particular place Rove holds in the Washington psyche that even the most exuberant Democrats are wondering why he seems so confident.
There are two questions. Is Rove just acting cocky as a way of lifting GOP morale, or does he really believe it? And, if the latter, is he deluding himself, or does he once again know something that Democrats do not?
If the Republicans were to lose control of at least one chamber, those in the party who have long seen Rove's approach as polarizing would feel emboldened....
"The architect may find his engineering plans were faulty," said one former senior official of past GOP administrations, who has watched the current one with increasing dismay. "Turning out the base this year may not be a winning or a governing strategy. America seems to be looking forward to making things work together, rather than dividing people across the board."
The flip side of adulation is paranoia. Many Democrats are convinced Rove has some trick up his sleeve -- Osama bin Laden in the freezer, perhaps, ready for release just before Election Day -- that will save the Republicans from electoral disaster this fall.
It's a dilemma that's probably been around at least as long as there have been elections: On the one hand, you want to stick to your core principles; but on the other hand, you want to get elected, or else you can't defend your core principles at all. What's twisted about today's political environment is that either party would probably do a lot better with their voters if they actually did stick to their core principles, but they've become so cynical and focus-grouped and obsessed with pandering to the cowardly bigoted lowest common denominator that they've totally lost their way.
Can't we just slaughter all the consultants on both sides and start fresh?