The two best words to describe Karl Rove are OVER and RATED.
Rove has managed to spin himself a personal fortune in national politics despite his work in the field. His reputation, however, does not match his accomplishments.
First, there was the George W. Bush primary campaign in 2000. Under Rove’s expert hand Bush lost New Hampshire to John McCain’s maverick, insurgent campaign. Despite all the insider advantages Bush had by January of 2000, Rove’s strategy was a loser.
It was only by running a vicious negative and personal campaign that even went after McCain’s youngest daughter that Turd Blossom, as Bush like to call Rove, was rescued from himself. The negative campaign made up for Rove’s miscalculations and was able to pull Bush from looming defeat.
Rove certainly did not run one of the better primary campaigns in the history of American presidential politics. That carried over to the general election as well.
In the general, Florida was off the Gore map in the early summer of 2000. The conventional wisdom was that the Bush campaign and his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, had the state locked up.
Instead the state locked up the question over who had won. Despite massive voter fraud by Republicans and GOP operatives sitting in county election boards fixing Republican absentee ballots, more people went to the polls intending to vote for Al Gore in Florida and a media recount based on the standards in place when the Supreme Court shut down the recount show that Bush lost Florida.
But Florida never would have been in play if Karl Rove really was a campaign genius.
The beginning of the Bush presidency was also a complete disaster. If you go back and look at the political stories that ran on the morning of September 11, 2001, you are reminded that the Bush presidency was off to as bad a beginning as its eventual end.
Despite Bush’s high approval ratings in the months that followed the terrorist attacks, Bush’s re-election was hardly an easy one.
And Rove’s tenure as White House political director was defined by scandals in the White House involving Rove. Those include the exposure of the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, as political retribution; scandals at the Justice Department over dismissal of U.S. Attorneys; and a secret political email program set up in the White House.
In April of 2006, Rove moved his focus from policy development to preside entirely over strategy around the 2006 congressional elections. The same elections that saw Nancy Pelosi become Speaker of the House.
Two weeks prior to that election, which was clearly moving in a positive direction for Democrats, Rove arrogantly told a reporter that he had secret polls that showed a Republican House and Senate by saying: “You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I’m entitled to the math.”
That sort of bluster and denial of facts was on display by Rove on FOX News Tuesday night when Rove challenged the obvious defeat of Governor Mitt Romney.
Of course, like so many things with Rove, his claims over having different numbers was just a lie.
There are a lot of billionaires angry over Rove’s deception and poor ability to execute strategy this week. Somehow Rove managed to accomplish nothing with his $300 million and run less advertisements than Democratic groups despite a funding advantage for the GOP aligned groups.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.