But the most significant element of Rove's effort to help four-term Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds keep his job may have occurred behind closed doors, when the White House strategist met with a federal disaster relief official contemplating how to respond to the storm. Four days later, Reynolds announced that President Bush would authorize millions of dollars in federal disaster aid for the area.
The timing was perfect: Reynolds broke the news hours after testifying before the House Ethics Committee about his role in the Mark Foley sex scandal -- knocking reports on the scandal out of the spotlight.
Reynolds' fate Nov. 7 could be a bellwether for Republicans in the Northeast -- in the midterm election as well as the long term. And his poll numbers crashed after revelations that he had known about suspicious e-mails the former Florida congressman had sent to male congressional pages. In the wake of the announcement about federal aid, a survey by a Buffalo television station showed Reynolds regaining a narrow lead over Democrat Jack Davis.
The article fails to mention that Davis is a bit....eccentric. There's also a natural evening out of poll numbers that would occur as the Foley scandal slips out of the public memory. But let's be fair to Karl - this could have helped Reynolds regain momentum.
Unfortunately, the article continues, with examples that become more and more meaningless:
In Missouri, Sen. Jim Talent is struggling to retain a seat that is considered vital to maintaining the GOP's Senate majority.
Talent, whose mother died of breast cancer, has made support for fighting the disease an element in his campaign. Recently, Rove's deputies arranged for First Lady Laura Bush to appear with Talent to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Once a year, the National Park Service bathes the soaring Gateway Arch that dominates downtown St. Louis in pink light -- the signature color of the breast cancer awareness campaign. This year, the pink lighting coincided with Laura Bush's visit. The White House says it encouraged the action.
So Jim Talent has had a boost because Laura Bush showed up to see pink lighting? OK. This seems like basic politics to me. Not a sign of genius.
On Tuesday, Rove used the White House itself to fire up the base, setting up a tent on the lawn for Cabinet secretaries and other officials to deliver the GOP's hard-edged message on the dangers of a Democratic triumph to 42 generally sympathetic radio talk show hosts who could pass the message on to millions of conservative listeners.
Rove gave interviews to 12 of the radio commentators.
The rock star spoke to the interviewers personally! Again, this is a good strategy, but nothing earthshattering, nor a recipe for sure success. Didn't the White House set up all kinds of interviews with "generally sympathetic radio talk show hosts" during the Harriet Miers fiasco?
No one will deny Karl Rove has a major impact on modern American politics, or that he has ratcheted up some big victories in the past 6 years. However, as the piece trailed off I began to wonder how much the authors of this story cared about the real pulse of the elections and how much they cared about trying to revive the "Karl Rove Saves the Universe" meme which had lost some steam over the past few years.
Mr. Hamburger and Mr. Wallsten have no qualms in hyping Mr. Rove, obviously. Per Hotline:
This piece does not mention that the authors of this piece also have a book titled "One Party Country The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century."
This sounds like quite a fair and balanced read:
IN 2004, Republicans won a clean sweep of the national elections -- 232 House seats, 55 Senate seats, 28 governorships and, of course, the presidency, expanding on gains from 2000 and 2002. It's the kind of electoral dominance that could lead a pair of White House reporters to wonder: "[I]s the United States becoming a one-party country?"
Such is the provocative contention of Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten's behind-the-curtains exegesis of the Republican plan for perpetual political power -- and why it just might be crazy enough to work. "Republicans," they write, "are the New York Yankees of American politics -- the team that, at the start of every season, has the tools in place to win it all."
Is this what the media is reduced to? The LA Times running this journalistic pom pom wave for SuperKarl?
If the GOP holds off Democrats next week, fine. A win is a win. However, if Rove were as masterful as this article claims, then the GOP would not be in these dire straits in the first place. The GOP screwed up the past two years. They failed. Again and again and again. They should not be in a position where "only" losing a dozen House seats and 3-4 Senate seats is "victory".
Don't let the media turn this election into yet another smashing success for SuperKarl. This midterm is a loss for them no matter what happens on November 7.