Bush’s Brain is Stupid

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It turns out Karl Rove isn’t a genius after all. Newsweek reveals just how wrong he was about the 2006 election:

Rove’s miscalculations began well before election night. The polls and pundits pointed to a Democratic sweep, but Rove dismissed them all. In public, he predicted outright victory, flashing the V sign to reporters flying on Air Force One. He wasn’t just trying to psych out the media and the opposition. He believed his “metrics” were far superior to plain old polls. Two weeks before the elections, Rove showed NEWSWEEK his magic numbers: a series of graphs and bar charts that tallied early voting and voter outreach. Both were running far higher than in 2004. In fact, Rove thought the polls were obsolete because they relied on home telephones in an age of do-not-call lists and cell phones. Based on his models, he forecast a loss of 12 to 14 seats in the House—enough to hang on to the majority. Rove placed so much faith in his figures that, after the elections, he planned to convene a panel of Republican political scientists—to study just how wrong the polls were.

His confidence buoyed everyone inside the West Wing, especially the president. Ten days before the elections, House Majority Leader John Boehner visited Bush in the Oval Office with bad news. He told Bush that the party would lose Tom DeLay’s old seat in Texas, where Bush was set to campaign. Bush brushed him off, Boehner recalls. “Get me Karl,” the president told an aide. “Karl has the numbers.

Rove’s strategy of getting out the conservative base only worked in 2002 and 2004 due to fear created by 9/11. It was not a strategy which could work long term. Even Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative” in 2000 rather than running from the far right.

Smear tactics only work for so long. Sooner or later you have to produce.  Despite ignoring warnings and failing to act against al Qaeda before 9/11, and despite totally messing up the response after the attack, briefly the Republicans convinced the nation that they could do a better job of fighting terrorism. To quote a line commonly attributed to a Republican who would never be a  Republican today, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

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