Karl Rove is a smart guy. He has proven beyond question to be one of the premiere political minds in America. Yet, somehow, there are "winds of a cross directional nature" blowing. Perhaps it merits a closer look.
I am not referring to "American Crossroads, the 527 organization that the Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff served as an advisor to. This is deeper. We're talking about a battle for the soul of the Republican party.
Such confrontation was predictable. It has been brewing for the past 35 years. In 1976 Ronald Reagan challenged seated President, Gerald Ford on several questions. Ford's brand of Republicanism was decidedly more centrist. Reagan opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, advocated Supply Side Economics, took a "hawkish" world view and proposed the largest tax cut in American history. Ford won narrowly. But the seed had been planted. Especially the thought that "Keynesian" economic theory might not be the only way.
George Herbert Walker Bush was Reagan's 1980 opponent. It was in the New Hampshire primary that the term "Trilateral Commission" entered the dialogue. Bush had won the Iowa primary. In New Hampshire, Reagan handed out literature revealing Bush's membership in this secretive, globalist organization. He won the primary handily and went on to gain the nomination.
Did the thought of a "Trilaterial Commission" gain much traction with the American public? Probably not! When Reagan asked Bush to be his running mate, the entire episode was buried along with Bush's claim that Reagan's "Plan for Economic Recovery" was "voodoo economics." They served eight years together in complementary fashion. When Reagan left office. Bush was the ready successor.
After Bush's 1992 defeat, the Republican Congressional takeover in 1994 and the 2000 election, the party appeared as united as ever. George W. Bush was clearly to the "right" of John McCain. Karl Rove was seen as the mastermind of Republican strategy.
Things soured in 2006. Two wars, an unfunded Medicare bill and mounting debt created concern. The financial meltdown killed any chance that John McCain had to win the 2008 election. Not that Republicans were enthusiastic with his candidacy! It was "his turn" to be the nominee. Reagan Republicans likened him to "a conservative Democrat." The appropriate label, "Republican in name only(R.I.N.O.)" was year or so away from conception.
Barack Obama swept into office amidst hopeful rhetoric and a 1970's style spending and regulation agenda. The Tea Party emerged and with it an Optometrist from Kentucky with a fitting description of conservatives.
George W. Bush, who ran under a banner of "compassinate conservative" was labeled a "Neo Conservative." The Kentucky Optometrist, now Senator Rand Paul described himself as a "Constititional Conservative." Suddenly, this long subdued split in the Republican Party had names!
Paul's book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington" described "Neo Conservatives" as favoring a large central Washington based government to facilitate conservative principles. The "Constitutional Conservatives" aspired to take a more "strict constructionist" view of the constitution in general. This translated to smaller Washington based government and less spending, coupled with more fiscal responsibility.
The media readily engaged in the discussion. They referred to the "Neo Cons" as the "Republican Establishment." Paul's "Tea Party Republicans" were positioned as "extreme" and "out of the mainstream." But they made their presence felt! In Kentucky, Paul hammered Establishment preference, Trey Grayson in the primary. His 56-44% finish against Democrat, Jack Conway in the general election showed that much of his support had come from Democrats. In Florida Marco Rubio routed Establishment choice, Charlie Crist, despite Crist's receipt of five million dollars from Republican National!
Professional to the end, Rove stayed low keyed on both races. But his frustration came out with GOP nomination of Christine O'Donnell in Delaware's primary. Rove, surprisingly became unglued. He make it clear the night of O'Donnell's victory that national support would be withdrawn and focused on winnable races. Was he correct? Probably! But, the mere fact that he was unwilling to spend any more time and energy on Delaware raised eyebrows of previously solid "Karl Rove advocates!"
Did Rove not recognize that Congressman Mike Castle was soundly beaten? Did it not occur to him why? Chances are he was only focused on retaking the Senate. Maybe he categorized O'Donnell as a "Plebeian." Rove had to reason, based on the election outcome, that a "R.I.N.O." simply wasn't good enough for Delaware Republicans! Castle had voted for T.A.R.P. and "Cap and Trade." Constitutionalists reminded everyone of these votes! In the end, the verdict read "what's the point of beating the Democrat if your candidate is only marginally different?" Republicans in Delaware wanted more than "a win on paper." Unlike Rove, they were doing more than counting Senate seats!
Rove's support of Kaye Baily Hutchinson in the 2010 Texas Governatorial race was a clear indication of his preference for Establishment candidates. And yet, his association with Governor Rick Perry goes back further than 2010. As most are learning, it was Rove who advised Perry to switch parties in 1988. Perry, a two-term Democrat in the Texas House of Representitives had been chairman of Al Gore's 1988 Presidential election bid. He switched to the Republican Party and defeated incumbant, Jim Hightower in a tight race. After Perry's successful two-term stint as Texas' Commissioner of Agriculture, some differences evidently arose regarding Perry's campaign strategy in the 1998 Lt. Governor's race.
A famous quote taken in Iowa in 2008 may have provided an additional spark. Regarding the explosion in Washington spending, Perry told Hawkeye Republicans, that "George(President Bush)isn't a fiscal conservative, never was." This didn't go over well with any of the Bush Camp. It was surprising to see Dick Cheney, James Baker and even Bush the Elder go public with their endorsement of Hutchinson in the 2010 Texas governors race. Equally emazing was the drubbing Hutchinson took from Perry. The broad differences between "Constitutional Conservatives" and "Neo Cons" were manifested. And where did Rove fit in? He was right there with Karen Hughes, Margaret Spellings and the rest of the gang! It demonstrated that the mantle had been passed, albeit not intentionally!
Can the "rankle" not be repaired? The Republican opponent in November 2012 will be Barack Obama. There is growing belief that Rick Perry is not "Rove's type of Republican." After all, the Texas Governor did not attend an Ivy League School. While he may have attended a CFR convention or two, he is not currently a member of one of the globalist secret societies such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bush the Elder, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. In fact, if he were elected President, he would be the first non-Ivy Leaguer to serve in the White House since Ronald Reagan.
Perhaps this is part of the "rankle." While Perry has enjoyed success in Texas, he may not be what elites consider "Americas ruling class." Unlike Mitt Romney, Al Gore,or George W. Bush, Perry's father was not a President, Senator or Governor.(Remember Clinton and Obama grew up in fatherless households, making them victims) Nor, did he attend Harvard or Yale like Gore, Romney, the Bushes, the Clintons and Obama.
It's refreshing to view Perry's college transcript from Texas A & M. He might not have made "all A's!" But it showed that he took serious courses like "Organic Chemistry" and went through the same impersonal woes expected in a large public institution. Some might consider this inferior to the high profile polish and pedigree offered by expensive Ivy League institutions. But he did gain priceless exposure to mainstream people! In essence, he attended college with the poor as well as the privileged. He might actually be able to relate to issues that "average Joe's" deal with daily!
It could come down to Rove's instinct for picking winning Republican candidates. He knows the game! But, the game may be changing. The sun is setting on the traditional Dewey-Rockefeller Republican. It took a Tea Party Senator to put a name on it but now, the "cat is out of the bag." Nobody wants to talk about a "safe" candidate who will attract Independents and moderate Democrats. Not if it means compromising the new standard in favor of the old!
Karl Rove and countless Establishment Republicans may gravitate to the "old school." With all his flaws, Mitt Romney still looks like a "safe bet." But, what is "safe?" If it translates to "giving in" to the old guard one more time, there may be few takers!
These "new" Republicans threaten the standard. When the 10th amendment enters any discussion, the ideological difference between "Constitutionalists" and "Neo Cons" is never more apparent. It started with Education. George W. Bush sponsored "No Child Left Behind." It was a noble effort to improve educational performance and accountability nationwide. The intentions were honorable. Democrats embraced the legislation. The spirit of "bi-partisanship" glowed. But, the "constitutionalists" were quick to say, "this is federal overreach."
A renowned political strategist such as Karl Rove might suggest that "the country is not ready for that kind of thinking. It might ultimately prove to be detrimental to the Republican party." But is he certain? Is anyone certain?
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