Biggest Loser of 2012: Mitt Romney or Karl Rove?
Craig Ungar has an excellent article in Salon.com that explains why the second biggest loser Tuesday night was political mastermind and moneymaker Karl Rove. In short, Rove poured $400 billion into the election and has little to show for it. Republicans lost the presidency and failed to gain the Senate.
Interestingly, Ungar partly attributes Rove's woes to his dual role as both News Corp. pundit and behind-the-scenes GOP boss. Ungar explains:
Throughout the entire campaign, on the surface, he played the lofty pundit pontificating for Fox and the Wall Street Journal as if he had no role whatsoever in the campaign. But whenever one looked closely beneath the surface, one found the Mark of Rove. Under the radar, via his surrogates in the Romney campaign, Boss Rove orchestrated massive, multi-million dollar political ad campaigns that inundated the swing states with countless ads funded by his SuperPACs and “dark money” groups. He drummed up narratives portraying Obama as a latter day failed, weak, Jimmy Carter, and reawakening paranoid fantasies that suggested America still lived in the aftermath of 9/11, cringing in fear of the terrorist threat. In more than 30 states there were attempts at voter suppression—Jim Crow 2.0– in one form or another, a strategy Rove had begun to employ by 2004. In Ohio, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, who had worked on Rove’s Ohio campaign in ’04, did everything he could to limit early voting. Nathan Sproul, a former Rove operative, launched nationwide schemes to disenfranchise Democrats, but was investigated by authorities for electoral misconduct and voter registration fraud. And various electronic voting machine companies were suspected of positioning themselves to rig the vote.
But in the end it was all for naught. Vigilant Democrats, often helped by the courts, had rebuffed him. Astoundingly, no one was cowering in fear of Boss Rove.
What went wrong? For Rove, just about everything. Throughout the entire campaign, the bitter division between the GOP establishment—Rove and his cronies—and the Tea Partiers severely limited his power. Rove’s inability to oust Missouri senatorial candidate Todd “illegitimate rape” Akin played a key role in allowing the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Mitt Romney’s attempts to straddle the two wings of the party reduced him to an etch-a-sketch candidate who did not have a clearly defined narrative. GOP efforts at voter suppression failed to subdue the growing Hispanic vote for the Democrats—a demographic time bomb that will only worsen for Republicans. And ultimately for Rove, running the party by remote control, playing pundit while he secretly pulled the strings, had its limits.
Now, another article in Salon explains how Rove is in the crosshairs of angry conservatives who feel he has some 'splaining to do.
It's not clear at this point where Rove will land in the inevitable party shakeup that is sure to follow such big losses. But another big question is where Fox News will fall, too. Rove is clearly a Fox man and, as the network showed Tuesday night when it immediately humored Rove's freak out over the network calling Ohio for Obama, Fox returns the love. But in the end, Fox went with its own call and Rove accepted the loss.
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