Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mark "Karl Rove Is Beloved" Halperin Receives a Nomination (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

The view in the reality-based community has always been that, with Ralph Nader spotting Rove 3 percentage points in the 2000 election, and with a "war" being worth roughly 5 percentage points for the incumbent's vote share, it's not a sign of real genius to eek out squeaker elections. There has been a debate within the reality-based community as to whether people like Halperin who celebrate Rove's genius are simply cynically sucking up to a favored source or really have drunk the koolaid.

Duncan Black nominates Mark Halperin for the Stupidest Men Alive contest, and reminds us of what may well be the worst piece of political journalism published in an American newspaper in 2006:

Ace of Base: By MARK HALPERIN: George W. Bush and Karl Rove... [ask:] Why do things differently when you like the results you have been getting? In the 2002 and 2004 national elections, the president and his top political adviser won by margins provided by conservative voters who shared the White House's view that the country should continue to move right.... [T]he Bush-Rove model animates the Republican Party's election strategy for 2006.... [The] view... [that] a campaign that appeals to moderates, one waged from the center, is the only way for the [Republican] party to maintain control of the House and Senate.... probably won't work.... [T]he Republicans... best chance is to stick with the old, base-driven Bush-Rove electoral strategy.

Why?... America is a polarized country, one where there are fundamental divisions worth fighting over.... The goal is to accumulate just enough power to use the energies and passions of the base to effect ideological change... even if -- sometimes especially if -- those changes might be at odds with majority public opinion. For the Republicans, this brand of politics works because the United States in many ways remains a fundamentally conservative nation.... Republican politicians, therefore, have the advantage of being able to proudly announce what they really think. They can go on offense....

If you have any doubts about the confusion of the Democrats, just look at the party's midterm strategy.... [T]he core of their enunciated message... has in recent elections been a recipe for defeat. Such equivocation is the kind of themeless pudding that does not match up well with the conviction of the White House message....

[T]he G.O.P. base is coming home -- and just in time. Base support is headed toward 90 percent, just about where it was before the 2002 and 2004 elections. The speeches the president gave about national security leading up to the fifth anniversary of 9/11 re-engaged the base and raised his overall approval rating to around 40 percent. He also has shifted the debate back to his favored playing field: national security.... Bill and Hillary Clinton... the couple's visibility seems to be energizing the Republican base as well....

As in 2002 and 2004, the Democrats have been baited into a heated discussion on terrorism and Iraq, blocking out debates that would be more favorable to their cause, like Social Security, the economy and gas prices. The Clintons have whipped up Democrats into a frenzy to fight back, but on Capitol Hill and on television they are largely fighting back on Republican terrain.

This is exactly what happened in the last two elections: Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove fired up the base on national security, taxes and social issues and found a way to win a majority of the electorate, even as they lost the allegiance of a majority of the country over all. The national security debate, the visibility of the Clintons and the momentum the Republicans gain from Mr. Bush's rising poll numbers -- all of these echo previous election cycles...

And yet another, from last week:

By Mark Halperin: [O]ur Rove thesis--the emphasis, for those who want to understand the world, should be on "genius" and not "evil" (as in "Rove is an evil genius").... Democrats, Republicans, and the Jacob Weisbergs of the world can pick nits all they want with Rove--that Bush isn't the most successful president ever, that Rove can't walk on water, that Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, and that they both have made plenty of political and policy mistakes. All of that is true. The reality is, though, that Bush and Rove, as a team, have never lost to Democrats, and their wins in 2002 and 2004 defied the odds in many ways. If Democrats win a big victory next Tuesday, it will be interesting to hear Rove's explanation. But for goodness' sake... people who live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Manhattan should understand that in much of red America, Rove is beloved and respected, and they should ask themselves why that is...

I think these settle the debate.

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