Archive for August 14th, 2007

When The Rovee Breaks

The Ann Kornblut/Michael Shear entry in the Rove’s Legacy essay competition asks the question, “What, exactly, did the architect build?” I, too, have puzzled over this question – a castle or fortress built on a foundation of sand, perhaps?

But no, I think I finally have it now: It’s a levee, or a dike. Rove’s great “achievement” was to insulate Bush and the GOP from the consequences of their incompetence and foolishness for three election cycles. They mistakenly interpreted that electoral success as a “mandate,” and went ahead sinking the country and their party lower and lower, as the roiling waters of dissatisfaction rose higher and higher, angrier and angrier.

Rove’s edifice of dirty tricks, deceit, and naked partisanship was finally washed away in November of 2006, fatally weakened by the failure of the real levees around New Orleans, and now Bush and the Republicans are up to their necks and flailing around desperately.

It would be a lot more satisfying if the Democrats would stop throwing them life preservers.

August 14th, 2007 at 10:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Politics,Republicans,Rove

The Punketeria Is Open For Business

More brilliance and resolvitude from our fearless Democratic leadership:

There’ll be no recess appointments this time around, Roll Call reports (sub. req.), meaning the White House won’t be taking advantage of Congress’ vacation to install any contested nominees. That’s due to a deal between Bush and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Last recess, the White House made a number of controversial recess appointments, including Swift Boat backer Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium. In order to prevent that sort of thing from happening again, Reid had plotted to keep the Senate in “pro forma” session during the recess — whereby the Senate floor personnel show up every three days to make it an official session. But now Reid and Bush have made a deal, according to Roll Call. Bush won’t make any recess appointments and Reid has promised to move some of his nominees when Senate gets back in session.

Wow, that’s some tough negotiating there, Harry – good job. So now, even if you don’t get punk’d, you have just announced to the world that after six-and-a-half years of lies and double-crosses, you still trust George W. Bush. That’ll sure impress the voters, all right. Even more so if you do get punk’d.

And what does Dubya risk? That you won’t move his nominees? Puh-leeze. You were always going to move his nominees, because caving in is what you do. You just cut this phony deal to look like you got something in return for it.

What you should have said is that you can no longer trust this president to keep his word or play by the rules, and so you must reluctantly keep the Senate in session so that Dubya can’t pull a fast one and recess-appoint Bob Murray as head of OSHA.

(Cross-posted at Greatscat!)

August 14th, 2007 at 07:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Politics

Our Holidays SUCK.

That’s it, I’m moving to Russia:

A Russian region best known as the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin has found a novel way to fight the nation’s birthrate crisis: It has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third year running is giving couples time off from work to procreate.

The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia’s national day. Couples who ”give birth to a patriot” during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes.

As far as I can tell, the time off is not rescinded if you don’t actually have a baby…

August 14th, 2007 at 05:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

Even David Frum Mostly Gets It

Now that Rove is on his way out the door, some conservative pundits are suddenly realizing that maybe his strategy of dirty tricks, mobilizing the base, and turning the federal government into a partisan arm of the Republican Party was not such a great idea. Funny, none of these oh-so-principled conservatives seemed to mind when it was winning elections for them…

David Frum shows us how it’s done:

AS a political strategist, Karl Rove offered a brilliant answer to the wrong question.

The question he answered so successfully was a political one: How could Republicans win elections after Bill Clinton steered the Democrats to the center?

The question he unfortunately ignored was a policy question: What does the nation need – and how can conservatives achieve it?

Mr. Rove answered his chosen question by courting carefully selected constituencies with poll-tested promises: tax cuts for traditional conservatives; the No Child Left Behind law for suburban moderates; prescription drugs for anxious seniors; open immigration for Hispanics; faith-based programs for evangelicals and Catholics.

These programs often contradicted each other. How do you cut taxes and also create a big new prescription drug benefit? If the schools are failing to educate the nation’s poor, how does it make sense to expand that population by opening the door to even more low-wage immigration?

Instead of seeking solutions to national problems, “compassionate conservatism” started with slogans and went searching for problems to justify them. To what problem, exactly, was the faith-based initiative a solution?

This was a politics of party-building and coalition-assembly. It was a politics that aimed at winning elections. It was a politics that treated the problems of governance as secondary. But of course governance is what incumbents get judged on – and since 2004, the negative verdict on President Bush’s governance has created a lethal political environment for Republican candidates.

Inspiring rhetoric and solemn promises can do only so much for an incumbent administration. Can it win wars? Can it respond to natural disasters? Can it safeguard the nation’s borders? Can it fill positions of responsibility with worthy appointees? If it cannot do those things, not even the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation can save it.


…Play-to-the-base politics can be a smart strategy – so long as your base is larger than your opponents’.

But it has been apparent for many years that the Democratic base is growing faster than the Republican base. The numbers of the unmarried and the non-churchgoing are growing faster than the numbers of married and church-going Americans. The nonwhite and immigrant population is growing at a faster rate than that of white native-borns. The Democrats are the party of the top and bottom of American society; the Republicans do best in the great American middle, which is losing ground.

Frum is right in general terms, but his specifics seem iffy at best and offensive at worst. I particularly like how he says the Democrats are the party of the upper and lower classes, while the Republicans are the party of the middle class. Yeah, ‘cuz the Democrats have always been all about big business and tax cuts for the superrich…

Mr. Rove often reminded me of a miner extracting the last nuggets from an exhausted seam. His attempts to prospect a new motherlode have led the Republican party into the immigration debacle.

…We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters.

Boy, that David Frum really hates immigration, doesn’t he? Immigration reform might not have delivered a huge majority of Hispanics to the GOP, but it sure as hell wouldn’t deliver them to the Democrats.

Note to David Frum and all the other anti-immigrant true believers: You are not going to deport all the Hispanics, so you might as well try to get along with them instead of turning them into Democrats. But hey, it’s your party’s funeral.

Frum then has a very lucid paragraph, but quickly gets silly again:

Building coalitions is essential to political success. But it is not the same thing as political success. The point of politics is to elect governments, and political organizations are ultimately judged by the quality of government they deliver.


The outlook is not, however, entirely bleak for Republicans. I notice that much of the Democratic party, and especially its activist netroots, has decided that the way to beat Rove Republicanism is by emulating it. They are practicing the politics of polarization; they are elevating “framing” above policy; they have decided that winning the next election by any means is all that matters – and never mind what happens on the day after that.

If they follow this path, they should not be surprised when they discover that it leads to the same destination.

Yes, very cute, liberals are just as bad as conservatives, right, DailyKos is a hotbed of antisemitism, yadda yadda yadda.

The thing is, the polarized atmosphere that Bush, Rove, and the Republican Party have created leaves Democrats with only two choices: opposition or capitulation. Republicans are so loyal to the ultra-right that they will not reach across the aisle to compromise with Democrats, only demand that Democrats reach across to compromise with them.

So given those choices, not to mention the tiny little detail that a large majority of the American people agree with our “extremist” positions, an oppositional stance looks pretty darn rational.

Or, to look at it from a slightly different direction, Republicans and conservatives unconditionally opposed success and unconditionally support failure, while progressives (I only wish I could say Democrats) not-so-unconditionally supported success and oppose failure. I guess we’ll find out next year which approach the voters prefer.

1 comment August 14th, 2007 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Politics,Republicans,Rove

And Yet Still More Battery Photoblogging

Just about to transition oh-so-smoothly to downtown…

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Because, well, it’s what I do…

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Some pilings.

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The Guardian Of The Shimmery Door seems a bit less than vigilant, but surely this is a clever ruse.

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That ladder was a little blown out in the first photo, so I know everyone must want a closer look…

August 14th, 2007 at 07:45am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

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