Karl Rove’s oped on Hillary’s New Hampshire victory contain all sorts of tasty nuggets… and that is before the fun stuff – analyzing why he is saying what he is saying. Here’s my first pass.
Karl Rove is a political marathoner. Pull into your mind a picture of one of those small, quick Kenyan marathoners. Think Evans Rutto.
I know that most people think of Karl this way:
But think of him as Evans Rutto. Why?
Because like Rutto, Rove wastes no energy when he runs the political race and every move he makes fulfills a strategic purpose.
So why the oped? Perhaps just this:
Former President Bill Clinton hit a nerve by drawing attention to Mr. Obama’s conflicting statements on Iraq. There’s more — and more powerful — material available. Mr. Obama has failed to rise to leadership on a single major issue in the Senate. In the Illinois legislature, he had a habit of ducking major issues, voting “present” on bills important to many Democratic interest groups, like abortion-rights and gun-control advocates. He is often lazy, given to misstatements and exaggerations and, when he doesn’t know the answer, too ready to try to bluff his way through.
For someone who talks about a new, positive style of politics and pledges to be true to his word, Mr. Obama too often practices the old style of politics, saying one thing and doing another. He won’t escape criticism on all this easily. But the messenger and the message need to be better before the Clintons can get all this across. Hitting Mr. Obama on his elementary school essays won’t cut it.
Talk about blistering and threatening. Karl’s take on Obama? He’s a lazy, lying, BSer.
Karl doesn’t fear Sen. Clinton. He has said publicly and privately that she is exactly the person Republicans should hope gets the nomination. He is afraid of Sen. Obama. And what does he fear? He fears the crowds and the potential movement that Obama could generate; he fears that Obama could become the new RFK and that he could roll over the Republican nominee in an election of the heart rather than an election of the mind/attack ad.
Karl also fears that Republicans are adrift and need to focus – no candidate has come close to emerging and after the split decisions in Iowa and New Hampshire there are now more front runners than there were going into the races. McCain, Huckabee, Giuliani, and Romney.
Romney has made it clear he isn’t going anywhere and his personal fortune guarantees he has the means to stay in the race. McCain is hot. Huckabee will be a big force in South Carolina and Florida and maybe Michigan. And Giuliani isn’t out of it by any means.
If Obama’s campaign is smart they will read the oped and they will take Karl’s advice and focus on substance.
All of the talk about Obama as the new RFK misses one very important thing – when RFK ran in 1968, he did so as a man willing to – eager to – engage in policy discussions. His was a policy rich campaign.
In mid-May 1968, for instance, Kennedy called for replacing the welfare bureaucracy with a needs-based system with national standards and incentives for people to work and care for their families. He was also one of the first people to champion improved and expanded day care. He passionately opposed a system that penalized out-of-work dads who remained with their families.
Yes, RFK was long on passion, but he was also long on substance. Obama better get that way very quickly or else this Rove oped will be the blueprint for his destruction should he get the nomination