Monday, February 8 , 2016, 6:37 pm | Fair 69º

David Harsanyi: Maybe Karl Rove Has a Point About Republicans

By David Harsanyi | @davidharsanyi | updated logo |

Let’s put ideology aside for a moment.

Karl Rove, architect of the George W. Bush-era Republican victories, says he’s sick of fanatics running his party into the ground. So he’s devised a strategy to pre-emptively sink unelectable candidates early in the process. He’s formed a new super PAC to implement this strategy. It’s called the Conservative Victory Fund, and it’s led by a guy named Steven Law, who was the head of another super PAC, called American Crossroads, which went something like 0-7 in the 2012 election cycle. (Not that anyone’s counting.)

Grass-roots conservatives, needless to say, are quite perturbed. “I’m filing the paperwork to form a super PAC to support freedom-loving conservative alternatives to (Karl Rove) on Fox,” former Rep. Joe Walsh tweeted. Surely, he won’t be the last to counter Rove’s efforts.

Suspicions about establishment Republicans are well-founded, but Rove has a point, as well. Purely as a tactical matter, why not weed out inept — or insane — candidates before they start spouting off about a woman’s organic ability to prevent pregnancy when raped? I’m no Sun Tzu, but winning elections seems to be a crucial part of politics. And if being right were enough, I’d be buying my lunch with a $20 bill featuring former two-term president Barry Goldwater.

Law says Republicans have “blown a significant number of races” because candidates prone to the chillingly bizarre have won GOP primaries before falling to Democrats. We need not relive them all. Then again, it’s also fair to say that if the “establishment” had gotten its grubby RINO paws on GOP primaries, America would be without some of the most interesting Republicans out there — Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, for starters. All this only proves that you can be successful and philosophically committed (well, as committed as a politician can be).

Actually, you needn’t look further than President Barack Obama, whether you’re a fan or not, to see what the entire package looks like — a man who is dedicated to ideology and has the political acumen to spin populist demagoguery and, ultimately, enjoy political success.

So the GOP civil war is based on a false choice. Surely, people exist in America who can placate both sides of the divide. Surely, there are charismatic candidates available to articulate enticing arguments in defense of limited government. Surely, there are limited-government types who can successfully implement fiscal conservative reforms (even in far-flung places, such as Wisconsin) and remain popular.

And just as surely, not every candidate can look the same. The Conservative Victory Fund says its aim is to institutionalize William F. Buckley’s rule: Support the most conservative candidate who is electable. The most electable conservative candidate in the Northeast isn’t going to be a social conservative. It’s that simple.

“If ... people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, they’re wrong,” Rove recently explained. “We need to do better if we hope to take over the United States Senate. We need to get better conservative candidates and win.”

Rove may be the wrong person to play kingmaker, but what’s wrong with the sentiment? Republicans, despite the belief of many grass-roots activists, don’t have a crisis of philosophy (the party is about as conservative as ever); they have a roster problem. A message problem. A persuasion problem. Right or wrong, they’re not winning arguments.

So though Rove’s recent history might not be impressive, he’s got a point: If Republicans worried as much about quality as they did about purity, they might be better off.

David Harsanyi is a columnist and senior reporter at Human Events. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

» on 02.07.13 @ 10:21 PM

If Republicans had tried compromise instead of adopting MItch McConnell’s destructive main objective to unseat Obama , their results would have been much better.At a time when America’s problems needed both parties working in unison , Republicans foolishly chose obstructionism instead of what was best for the country. Now they want to morph the platforms again ,just as they did 5 years ago after the G.W. Bush debacle. The wheels are off the bus and the majority of Americans have acknowledged that in the voting booth.

» on 02.08.13 @ 12:33 PM

GWW, once again you spend more time bashing those who oppose your point of view than you do making statements that reflect reality.  The fact that Republicans refuse to be bullied into pursuing policies that are in direct contradiction to their values doesn’t make them obstructionists like the left continually calls them.  What about a president who states that he has no interest in working with the other party since he won the election?

Now, let me be clear about one thing, I think the Republican Party has failed.  But no more so than the Democrat Party.  You do realize that the popular vote in the last election accounts for less than 40% of the country’s population?  And that the “winning” votes only represent 20%?  I wouldn’t call that anything close to a mandate.  I mean, seriously.  Can you honestly say that 65m people, contested by 60m people, in a country of 313m, shows a mandate?  I believe that upwards of 50% of this country are unrepresented.  That is where the political parties fail.

So before you start talking about “the majority of Americans” in support of your point of view, try sticking to reality instead.  Our currently political parties have no real idea of what’s important to the majority, as reflected in the low voter turnouts and decisions being made by fringe votes.

» on 02.08.13 @ 01:15 PM

Socaljay, the country doesn’t have 313m registered voters, just people. Babies, teenagers, adults, and oldsters. Of those who voted, it would be very difficult to claim that they weren’t fairly representative of the whole.

Obama won the popular vote and the electoral vote. Get over it.

» on 02.08.13 @ 02:39 PM

Out of 313 m people 220 are eligible voters. 180 million actually registered and 58% turned out to vote for a total of 127 million (66 Obama, 61 Romney).

Hardly a mandate. 93 million people decided to sit it out and my opinion is they don’t count. Those of us who voted do and yes ramjet more morons voted than smart people, so your Chicago mobster won, whoopee.

As for Rove, he disgusts me. I am sick of these Wall Street looter cheerleaders in the GOP oligarchy constantly whining we have to look like democrat commies to win. Obama had the media on his side and since our country abandoned education, reading, history and common sense, the jerk who has the media slobbering after them will most likely sway the vote.

» on 02.08.13 @ 08:31 PM

So… the election was all hocus pocus ?!?.  Surprising then that voters overwhelmingly rejected further GOP attempts to transform our democracy to a plutocracy. That message couldn’t have been more clear.
And the results couldn’t have anything to do with demonizing and wanting to drown the “gubment”. That is unless you want big government legislating morality. Or ...if you like big government subsidizing fat cat industries such as oil and big ag.  Big government running non-stop wars and Pentagon black budgets also get a big GOP thumbs up as well.
How is it that now brown and black people all of a sudden matter? Mix in a little misogyny , gay phobia , senseless dereg and assorted fossilized stances - voila- irrelevance has arrived.

» on 02.08.13 @ 09:44 PM

Willie, get a brain of your own. If we want moveon talking points we can just go over there and get them. Obama is a complete failure, but because you were trained well in our government funded indoctrination camps you don’t see it. Instead you come up with these ridiculous leftist stereo types of the right, racists, homophobe, pollution loving, red neck, bible toting, gun clutching, corporate welfare recipients. Just because the Daily Koz repeats it over and over and over again along with your government paid tenured teacher doesn’t make it true.

Now racism is what your white liberal elite practice. Oh those blacks and Hispanics are too stupid to do anything with out whitey liberal’s help. We have to give them handouts, welfare and racial quotes because we all know they aren’t capable of success in an equality based society based on color blindness. Misogyny? Isn’t that what we keep catching your democrat representatives doing? Cheating on there wives, screwing around with whores, fondling little kids. Deregulation m=now that’s really funny. Clinton deregged the looters on Wall Street and Carter dereged the banks. Both of these cases cause the worse calamity in our economy. But hey you just keep cheer leading your too big criminal, Frank and Dodds and keep believing their on your side.

Look Willie, if all you’re after here is a partisan shoving match fine we can tit for tat all day long. If you want to argue ideology bring it on, lets have that discussion. As for politics, both sides are just as guilty of everything you and I can dredge up, it a pointless argument.

» on 02.09.13 @ 01:16 AM

” Obama is a complete failure”. No one need discredit your pov when you do it for us.

» on 02.09.13 @ 11:22 AM

You’re right Willie. He was very successful bamboozling people like you.

» on 02.10.13 @ 05:52 PM

Rambler, you completely sidestepped my point, but hey, that’s what you do.  The fact remains that a minority vote, i.e., 20% of the country’s population, has decided the fate of the nation.  You cannot spin it any other way because the numbers and the facts speak for themselves.  There is a greater number of unrepresented citizens than there are those who voted.  The elite no longer represent middle America.  Only special interest groups with money.  But that goes part and parcel with the gradual loss of values in this country, doesn’t it?  Some day maybe, when an armed government official comes to your house demanding something from you, you will realize what many of us have been saying is true.  Big government is riding roughshod over the Constitution and our rights.  That is plain to see for anyone who cares to notice.

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