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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Karl Rove Tries to Dig the GOP Out of a Hole

The immediate revision of history following the midterm elections continues. The spin that the right is trying to get you to buy is that, while Republicans got whomped, the elections were a triumph of conservatism over liberalism.

To perpetuate this narrative, Karl Rove sat down with TIME's Mike Allen and fed him a line of BS worthy of... Well, Karl Rove.

Exit polls showed heavy discontent with the course of the war, and Bush announced the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the next day. But Rove took comfort in results of the Connecticut Senate race between the anti-war Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who ran as an independent after losing the Democratic primary over his support for the war. "Iraq mattered," Rove says. "But it was more frustration than it was an explicit call for withdrawal. If this was a get-out-now call for withdrawal, then Lamont would not have been beaten by Lieberman. Iraq does play a role, but not the critical, central role."

In other words, "the candidate we spent most of 2000 calling too liberal won in '06 -- Huzzah for the war!" Of course, if the situation were reversed, if Lamont beat Lieberman and liberals were pointing to the race as a referendum on the war, Rove would tell us that a race in Connecticut isn't a representative poll of the nation as a whole -- most americans aren't from Connecticut. And Boy Genius would be right. It says a lot about the complete rout of the GOP that Rove has to point to Lieberman as a win.

Rove's spin only works if you ignore what happened in the rest of the nation. And, since the vast majority of americans live in the rest of the nation, it's not likely that they'll ignore their own states and concentrate on what happened in Connecticut.

Rove also denies having predicted anything. "My job is not to be a prognosticator," Rove told Allen. "My job is not to go out there and wring my hands and say, 'We're going to lose.' I'm looking at the data and seeing if I can figure out, Where can we be? I told the President, 'I don't know where this is going to end up. But I see our way clear to Republican control.' "

Really? I seem to remember some line of crap about 'the math':

Media Matters:

When host Robert Siegel pointed out to Rove that major public opinion polls showed Democrats with a significant advantage over Republicans during an October 24 interview broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered, Rove told Siegel, "You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math, I'm entitled to the math." Rove also said, "I'm looking at all these [races], Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House."

Kinda looks like prognostication to me, Karl. To be fair, there's a grain of truth in Rove's spin -- you can't go out and tell everyone, "We're screwed!" before the election. No one does that, from either party. No matter how hopeless things look, you have to be all positivity and optimism. But it's one thing to try to get your voters stoked and another to deny you ever did so.

Another spin Rove gives a try is that all of the races were close:

The Republican National Committee has been pointing out that a small shift in votes would have made a big difference. A shift of 77,611 votes would have given Republicans control of the House, according to Bush's political team. And a shift of 2,847 votes in Montana, or 7,217 votes in Virginia, or 41,537 votes in Missouri would have given a Republicans control of the Senate. In addition, the party has calculated that the winner received 51 percent or less in 35 contests, and that 23 races were decided by two percentage points or fewer, 18 races were decided by fewer than 5,000 votes, 15 races were decided by fewer than 4,000 votes, 10 races were decided by fewer than 3,000 votes, eight were decided by fewer than 2,000 votes and five races were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

See, different states have different population numbers. Montana, for example, has a grand total 902,195 people -- the city of Los Angeles alone has more than four times as many people as the entire state of Montana -- comparing 2,847 votes in Big Sky Country to margins in the rest of the nation is extremely misleading. There's this new thing called 'percentages.'

Finally, Rove argues that we are ruled by history and have no free will. Not in so many words, but that's basically his argument:

Rove is famous for his political statistics, and his team has come up with an array of figures to contend that the Republicans' loss of 29 seats in the House and six in the Senate is not so out of whack with the historic norms. In all sixth year midterms, the President's party has lost an average of 29 House seats and 3 Senate seats, according to these figures. In all sixth-year midterms since World War II, the loss was an average of 31 House and 6 Senate seats. And in all wartime midterms since 1860, the average loss was 32 House and 5 Senate seat.

I don't really remember The Ghost of Elections Past showing up in my bedchamber and telling me how to vote, do you? Ask anyone why they voted the way they did and no one will tell you it's because history demanded it -- which is what Rove basically admits in the opener for the piece.

"The profile of corruption in the exit polls was bigger than I'd expected," Rove tells TIME. "Abramoff, lobbying, Foley and Haggard [the disgraced evangelical leader] added to the general distaste that people have for all things Washington, and it just reached critical mass."

One slip up with a contradiction in an interview is pretty good when you're spinning out PR BS. That's why Karl pulls the big bucks, I guess. How did Iraq, which Rove said, "[played] a role, but not the critical, central role," do in exit polling?

CNN International:

According to exit polls, 57 percent of all voters disapprove of the war in Iraq and 58 percent disapprove of Bush's job performance.

Most voters cast their ballots on national rather than local issues, with 60 percent saying national issues mattered most to their vote, while 34 percent said local issues mattered most.

The CNN piece is titled, "Exit polls: Bush, Iraq key to outcome."

Sometimes spin is ridiculous, Karl -- like when you try to convince people that they didn't do what they did for the reasons they did. We know what we did and we remember why.


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NewsBlog 5000 said...

Well he does know about THE math.

I think it is a victory against corruption, incompetence and ignorance. Therefore, history tells us it will be short lived.

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