Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Karl Rove

Sometimes the truth hurts, and it pains me to say this, but Karl Rove is the pre-eminent political strategist in the U.S. today. Last August I went on the record as saying that if Rove managed to help George W. Bush win a second term in office, it would constitute the signature political achievement of my lifetime. Well, he did. And it is.

Every political consultant has an abiding insecurity, and it's not about losing. It's about not knowing whether a winning candidate would have won without them. The question I asked myself after every winning campaign: "Was my guy just gonna win it anyway?" Bush winning the presidency in 2004 was not one that he was just going to win anyway, and that is why I have to tip my hat to Rove.

Rove mobilized the base. And he formulated a message that avoided the fact that his candidate had positions and a record that the majority of the American people disagreed with. He made the last election one not about policies or positions or even about values or national security — he made it about decisiveness. Who else ever won the presidency on a message that basically says, "You may not like what I stand for, but I stand for something." President Bush won not because he was a better candidate but because he had a better campaign. If Rove wanted to switch parties, I'd take him up on it in a second.

Carville is a political strategist, CNN talk-show host and author

From the Archive
The Rove Warrior: No adviser has ever dominated the White House like Karl Rove. So what does the President see in him, and what's he planning to do next?