Karl Rove is mad, or I should say he was offended by the Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad from the Super Bowl. It isn’t immediately apparent why conservative stalwart Rove should so detest an ad paid for by a private enterprise, narrated by an American hero with libertarian leanings, and proudly proclaiming the grit and determination of our country. When I watched the ad, I saw fire, will, patriotism, and a fight after the bitter end tour de force. I got chills down my spine. The thought even briefly crossed my mind that if Chrysler was putting anything close to this much passion into their products, then I might have to give them a look.
I didn’t see anything political in the ad, and I am a political junky. Ol’ Turd Blossom though (his boss, President Bush, named him), something made his antennae quiver, and Bush’s Brain is a far bigger political operative than I. Now, I may not have the experience of Karl Rove, but I know a little about people. Since there was nothing even remotely offensive about the ad in question, the reaction of this nation’s preeminent conservator operator is indicative of surprise, or vulnerability, or fear. In this case, all of the above is the correct answer. You see, the man already has something to fear this year, something that is already well-positioned to exploit his vulnerabilities, and the Chrysler ad creates a whole new set of very surprising problems.
There is no questioning Karl Rove’s brilliance, or his effect on the world we live in. Like him or loathe him, he is the major reason for the two-term presidency of George W. Bush, and the six year run of Republican control over both houses of Congress and the White House. But many felt that his magic left him in 2006, when his metrics famously did not work. Rove imagined, engineered, and nearly established his vision of permanent one party government in the United States, but managed to lead that party to epic meltdowns in both 2006 and 2008. He is determined to repair the damage, and helped many candidates during the Republican wave elections of 2010. The 2012 presidential cycle, however, is for all of the marbles and is not off to a good start for the Rove team. The GOP candidates for president are historically weak, and the Republican House has been a historically bad source of soundbites. Thus the fear.
The vulnerabilities for Rove and his like-minded associates exist in two fronts. The default policy attack of the last 40 years on a Democratic presidential candidate or incumbent is national security. Given the withdrawal by President Obama from one massively unpopular war, the draw-down by him in another, the dictator takedown on a budget in Libya, and the swift-dealt but long-awaited justice for You-Know-Who, national security is a stretch for Republicans this cycle. Economics has not been perceived as a vulnerability for Republicans, who have spent the last three years believing their own PR. Every major survey and model of the Stimulus pointed to its effectiveness, but Republicans have continued to believe that it wasn’t so, as long as they continued to believe. Now, as unemployment steadily falls, and the doomsday predictions of runaway inflation steadily lose credibility, economics begins to look a little shaky.
And then a gruff, pull your self up by the bootstraps conservative (in fact, the gruff, pull your self up by the bootstraps conservative) waltzes down a tunnel at halftime of the Super Bowl, and talks about the comeback of an American automaker. An American automaker that is only in existence today because President Obama made a decision to bail it out. An American automaker that is in existence today because President Obama made a decision to ignore the Tea Party protests that likened him to Marx and Hitler because he was bailing out the automakers. An American automaker that is in existence today because President Obama made a decision to ignore the entirety of the Republican Party who insisted he not bail them out. A Republican Party that includes, by the way, son of Michigan and presumed Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney.
Many in our nation have gone to a lot of trouble to hang the bank bailout around Barack Obama’s neck; liberals and conservatives alike have accused him of siding with Wall Street. Turd Blossom’s problem, is that George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary wrote the original bailout law (two paragraphs that essentially and literally gave the banks a blank check with no Congressional oversight), and that George W. Bush signed a more accountable version of the law after a bipartisan majority passed it (and yes, that included Mr. Obama). Turd Blossom’s other problem is that while many have tried to paint Barack Obama as some kind of Wall Street pet, Mitt Romney is the living embodiment of the culture.
Of course, Turd Blossom’s other, other problem, is that President Obama got the funds for the bailout of Detroit ($77 billion) by snatching them right from the hungry mouths of those poor bankers. Call it, TARP Redirected, and its a hit on Broadway. How many voters do you think will be upset that the President redirected bank bailout money to save the jobs of millions of working class Americans? The real kick in the pants, is that this is another move by President Obama that Republicans told their constituents was ill-considered, stupid, or downright evil, and that ended up working like a charm. Detroit keeps on trucking (stronger than ever), and the firms paid the people of the United States back. Even for this problem However, Karl Rove had the answer. He thought he could handle President Obama taking credit for the success, that is after all why Rove makes the big bucks.
He can’t, however, handle Clint Eastwood reminding Americans about this very American brand of success, a success that only happened because Americans ignored the Republicans. And to Karl Rove, that is offensive.
The Rational Middle is listening…