One thing you can count on when Karl Rove pens a piece is that it will be chock full of the BS, and I for one just can't resist pulling apart his wandering weasel words, so here we go:
It is true the Republican Party is having difficulty retooling its message for the 21st century. But so is the Democratic Party.Really? I've gotten pretty comfortable with the idea that the public has finally grown sick of the GOP's message of corporate empowerment at the expense of individuals, and that the long string of corporate scandals, stagnant wages, rising prices, and now home foreclosures had more or less reminded people why the Democratic message of fiscal prudence was the winner. Just my thought.
These are my favorite lines in his piece, by far:
President Reagan's gifts to the Republican Party were ideas: growing the economy through tax cuts, limiting government's size, forcefully confronting totalitarian threats, making human rights a centerpiece of America's foreign policy, respecting unborn human life, empowering the individual with more freedom. Those ideas endure. They give Republicans a philosophical foundation on which to build.I read this list and I see the words "borrowing from China, debts, and deficits", "breathtaking expansion of executive power, completely free of oversight", "launching bone headed wars in places that pose no threat to us", "torture", "not that we would actually ban abortion, but we will give scientists a hard time", and "the freedom to lose your house." I think Reagan would pop a cap in Karl Rove's ass if he were here and with it, because the party Rove (and Gingrich) built has almost nothing in common with the Reaganesque ideals (however Reagan may or may not have lived up to them) that Rove lays out here. Rove's GOP is all about power, not so much about governing.
Democrats have a similar philosophical storehouse in the ideas of FDR and LBJ. Both expanded the size and scope of the federal government and saw it in almost an entirely positive light: as an agent of economic redistribution from the rich to the less affluent, as a provider to the poor and the disabled and as an enforcer of equal rights and equal justice. The Democratic Party has two challenges. One is that the modern economy has led voters to prefer markets, decentralization and consumer choice far more than centralized control by government and the substitution of "expert" decisions for those of the individual.Would those be the same voters who never came around to privatizing social security? Or are those the voters who insisted on a prescription drug benefit in Medicare? I can never keep it straight.
The other challenge is that many in that party mistake the "Third Way" tactics of the Clinton years for a substantive approach to governing. Triangulation—making yourself look good at the expense of allies and adversaries in both parties—is lousy for providing coherent answers to modern issues.Yes, dividing the country along hyper-partisan lines and pissing on anyone who doesn't march lockstep with you is a much more coherent governing philosophy. Just look at Soviet Russia and Germany in the 1930s. Or Rome, for that matter. Really, Rove's approach goes way back.
Third, we are told Democrats have raised more money. You will search in vain for a similar declaration of last rites for the Democrats in 2000 when Republicans outraised them.Of course, the GOP suffered a stunning and historic defeat in the 2006 election, losing its majority in both houses of congress, and the Republican president's approval ratings have been swirling in the toilet bowl for two years, whereas in 1998 the Democratic party picked up seats and Bill Clinton was still a pretty popular guy among real Americans (i.e., those who are not Karl Rove or pundits) in 2000 when his veep ran for president. I do recall stories about the money gap in 2000, and I do recall that in that hotly contested election where the losing candidate won about half a million more votes than the electoral winner, the Bush campaign outspent the Gore campaign by about $40M. It is a perennial story that the Democrats are underfunded and the Republicans outspend them. It is a perennial story that the Democratic Party is on its last legs. And for once, it is not this year's story.
"It's far too early to draw sweeping conclusions about the health of either party; the presidential race, after all, has barely begun. Lots of surprises lie ahead."Except of course, it isn't too early to look at the masses of voters turning out to Democratic Primaries, the unprecedented surge of young voters energized by Democratic candidates, or the amazing interest that independents have in the Democratic field this year and draw some conclusions about the health of the Democratic Party. It also isn't too early to look at the elites in the "Conservative Movement", the Rush Limbaughs, the Hugh Hewitts, the Ann Coulters, the Pat Buchanans, and see that they are spitting on their presumptive nominee exactly because he can appeal to people outside of the insular, terrified frenzy of the modern Republican party, and it scares the crap out of them that normal people might moderate the message of Republicanism. Yeah, it's late enough to draw a few conclusions. Both candidates in the Democratic field -- and this was true of Edwards, as well -- will advance the ideals and vision of the growing Democratic Party; but John McCain is the only Republican candidate who might be able to save the GOP by opening the doors for people beyond the crazy base.
And that's the difference between the two parties this year. One is growing expansively, and the elites in that party are as excited as can be about it; one is shrinking and failing, and the elites in that party are fighting hard to continue that trajectory.
And Karl Rove, the architect of this catastrophic situation for his party? He's just a guy with a pen these days.