Edited and abridged version of a piece by Richard Reeves in Truthdig (September 9)
So Karl Rove – the philosopher of the Republican Party – has taken on three of 8 1/2 (Palin has not declared) of his party’s candidates. True, it has been a woolly Republican campaign – a lot of fun, really – with two candidates, Bachmann and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, having to watch their top staffers walk away from the fight.
My own guess, prejudiced, if you will, is that Rove knows the Republicans are in real trouble with their “class” of 2012. His party’s candidates are throwing around words that have largely been missing since the 19th century, beginning with “treason.” Perhaps he senses that there is no way the Republicans and their tea party cousins can find a way to unite to defeat the Democrats even in rough economic times. Perhaps he wants to stay on the sidelines this time and make his own political comeback in 2016.
The Republicans may not have much to show in the coming campaign except for a well-groomed gang of extremists. Remember Barry Goldwater – wonderful man, lousy candidate. At some point in the campaign, the Republicans may have to stand up, or ’fess up, to what they have been doing.
Their troubles may have begun when their Senate leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the party’s job was to spend four years making sure that President Obama fails, that he is a one-term president. (Bachmann has since taken up that chant.)
Is that any way to run a country? Republicans are basically saying they want the president – and the country – to fail so that they can take it over.
Rove may be on to that. If he is a true Republican, and he is, he may be trying to warn the rest of the party that it is headed for more trouble than it thinks next year.