Turd Blossom. Bush’s Brain. Or God forbid, MC Rove. These are all titles that Karl Rove has been referred to by over the years. Lately however, Rove has been called a few other names. ‘Repulsive,’ ‘total loser’ and ‘repugnant’ (by Newt Gingrich, no less) are just three recent examples. And here’s the thing, he’s being called that by Republicans. What has Rove done to receive such scorn from his brethren?
Ever the strategist, Rove has looked upon the last two elections and come to the conclusion that candidates such as Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Ken Buck, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, likely cost his party control over the senate. Arguably, all 5 of those candidates were running in states that were more than willing to consider a Republican alternative over the Democratic option. Unfortunately for the right, comments such as “2nd amendment remedies,” “I’m not a witch,” calling Social Security “horrible policy” “Legitimate rape,” and the suggestion that rape might be “a gift from God” torpedoed any chance of a Republican victory despite a favorable environment.
Enter Karl Rove’s new Super Pac, The Conservative Victory Project. The Pac’s purpose will be to identify and support the most conservative candidate who can win. This approach has been endorsed by none other than the Time Magazine proclaimed Republican Savior (pre-hydration issues), Marco Rubio. So what’s the problem? Seems reasonable right? Focus on the sharpest, most articulate candidate who supports your views and is most palatable to the masses and get behind them early. Well, the problem is the same one the Republicans have had since their takeover of the House in 2010: The Tea Party.
While the Republican wave that led to Speaker of the House John Boehner did in fact owe a fair amount of credit to the Tea Party revolution, it also kept them from taking over the Senate (Angle, O’Donnell, and Buck). Instead of taking caution at these mixed results, far right conservatives became even more emboldened in 2012 with near disastrous results. Several months prior to the 2012 elections, most pundits favored a Republican takeover of the Senate. Owing in great part to extreme candidates like Akin and Mourdock, not only did the GOP not swing the Senate, they actually lost 2 seats. Thanks to the gerrymandering of local districts, the party did retain control of the House, but lost 8 seats and saw Democratic House candidates receive nearly half a million more total votes than their Republican counterparts.
One might think that these results would create some soul searching in the Republican Party, or at least some level of pragmatic consideration. On some level it has. Joe Scarborough of MSNBC has been lambasting his party on an almost daily basis every morning. Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, has said that the GOP must “stop being the stupid party.” These are logical, sane responses. However, the Tea Party wing of the conservative base has never really had any interest in logic or sanity. Oh sure, there are hardcore fiscal conservatives like Matt Kibbe in the Tea Party movement, but far too many of them are out of touch extremists that are more interested in gay marriage, undocumented workers, and the 2nd amendment. In short, bitter types (yeah, I said it) connected to an era that is beginning to look positively prehistoric in this rapidly modernizing society of which we now live that accepts gays, the need for amnesty, and thinks that there are reasonable limits on the weapons you can own.
Unfortunately for the Republican Party, these hangers on and dead enders are controlling the GOP. Previously reasonable Republicans like John McCain and Orrin Hatch are forced to go further and further right. Not because they don’t think they can win the general election in their respective states, but because they fear they can’t survive their own primaries against a far right opponent.
The problem for Karl Rove is the far right extreme are the most rabid voters in the primaries and are more interested in purity than pragmatism. They want ‘electrified‘ fences on the border. Guns? The bigger and badder the better. Homosexuals? They should be relegated to second class citizenry, and there is no reasoning with them. Something Karl Rove has learned all too well.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the success rate of Rove’s other Super Pac, American Crossroads, had such a poor rate of return in 2012. Never has so much money been spent at the service of so many losing candidates. Rove may have the right message, but he is clearly the wrong messenger. Despite his track record of success in previous elections, that seems like a long time ago, even to the party of the pale, male, and stale.
The irony is that Karl Rove’s ‘sell by’ date has expired at a time when he is trying to extend the relevancy of his own party. A battle that has turned into a decidedly uphill one. To put it another way, the bloom is most definitely off the turd.