He discusses the role Rove has played in GW's time in office and how the base they've worked so hard to woo and lock-up has become a double-edged sword.
Many things have gone wrong for Bush, but the underlying problem is his relationship to the constituency that elected him. Bush's debt to his big donors and to religious conservatives has boxed him in and pitted him against the national consensus on various issues.GW is a hostage and has Rove to blame. Weisberg continues:
The Harriet Miers nomination was an attempt to satisfy both the militant conservative base and the eternally moderate American electorate. With the Alito nomination, Bush has acknowledged that splitting this difference is impossible.
The genius of Reagan's method, which was to placate the religious right without giving in where it mattered.Rove is not such a genius after all. He simply delivers to the rapid base what they want -- as opposed to employing any kind of political finesse to appease a wider audience, and therefore more Americans. Instead, Rove operates via cold, hard calculations, taking care of those that matter to secure power: those with the money (for obvious reasons) and those who will vote no matter the weather (religious right).
Bill Clinton managed to keep liberal interest groups onboard without advancing their politically untenable wish list.
Bush seems able to appease his base only by surrendering to its wishes.
Weisberg reminds us that GW/Rove are repeating the mistakes Gingrich made:
Gingrich thought he'd won a mandate for radical change and enshrined a new governing majority. He forgot about the country's nonideological majority, which likes Medicare, Social Security, national parks, and student loans. Republicans have retained control of Congress since Gingrich's downfall, but only by reversing his austerity program and spending like a bunch of drunks.The GOP-controlled Congress has bought votes more cravenly and irresponsibly than any "tax & spend" version of Congress in recent memory. The hypocrisy never ends.
The author ends by offering a strong hint that the antidote to GW is John McCain, who just happens to "loathe" Karl Rove. For the sake of the country, 2008 couldn't come fast enough.