On the occasion of Karl Rove’s departure from the White House, All Things Considered broadcast an account of his tenure there that never mentioned his major ambition: to make the Bush presidency a political turning point and establish right-wing Republican hegemony for decades, much as FDR’s New Deal set the terms for years after his presidency.
Turn off your radio and read the straight dope on Rove in September’s cover story in the Atlantic (not yet online Monday) by Joshua Green. Rove aimed to do five things en route to his hoped-for political realignment: “establish education standards, pass a ‘faith-based initative’ directing government funds to religious organizations, partially privatize Social Security, offer private health-savings accounts as an alternative to Medicare, and reform immigration laws to appeal to the growing Hispanic population.” The only one of the five to be fully realized was No Child Left Behind; Social Security privatization in particular became a political albatross on Bush’s second term even before Katrina revealed the administration’s true character.
Green brilliantly dissects both how Rove’s bull-in-a-china-shop style crucified slow movers like Kerry — and how that style failed when it came to changing policy in Washington. The contrast with Reagan’s successful handling of Social Security reform is devastating.
NPR did mention that Rove wouldn’t be doing political consulting in 2008. Apparently none of the many Republican candidates wants to be tied that closely to George W. Bush. Can you imagine Democrats in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 wanting to distance themselves from Roosevelt?