Karl Rove was in Southwest Florida yesterday, appearing in Fort Myers, Naples and Sarasota to talk politics and promote his new memoir.
In both his weekly column published today in the Wall Street Journal, and in an extensive interview in the Naples News, the man formerly known as "Bush's Brain," elucidates his thoughts on how the Democratic party enthusiasm, post passage of the health care bill in the House, will be short-lived (actually, the law is apparently still not a law. An all night "Vote-o-Rama" in the Senate has led Republicans to find two provisions in the bill that will ultimately be struck from the legislation, which means that with modifications, it needs to be sent back to the House for consideration again).
When asked by the Naples News what the passage of the health care bill means for conservatives, Rove was caustic in his response, admitting that this week would be rough, but that it will only get better after that:
Its going to be a bad week for conservatives because the press is going to be slobbering over the bill, the president is going to be exalting, Democrats are going to be doing double pumps saying this is going to be as one of them said, an incalculable political benefit this fall.
Weve seen this drama before and we ought to let the week pass.
We saw the same thing last year when they passed the stimulus bill. We went through the same thing, the media gushed all over it, the president was exalting, Democrats said this will guarantee our economy, and today six percent of Americans in the CBS/New York Times poll think the stimulus bill created jobs.
So we need to stay focused on this and make a case to the American people for repealing, reforming and replacing this bill.
But will this really be the case? Rove is correct about the perceptions about the stimulus. As we have written countless times quoting independent economists, in many ways the stimulus plan has been a success. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, they put out hard figures which haven't come to pass (such as the fact that they said the plan would bring unemployment down to 8% while it stubbornly has maintained around 10%). Rove has cherry picked the absolutely worst public opinion survey on the negative perceptions of the stimulus, but he's correct that the perception is that it hasn't been successful.
But will running on repeal be the winning ticket? David Corn, writing in Politics Daily writes that it may be problematic for Republicans to choose what parts of the bill to try to pick apart (though we're seeing the legal maneuvering on the mandating of insurance is certainly gathering media attention, it also carries some currency, because progressives like Keith O have also criticized that aspect previously).
But more interestingly, Corn writes about the reality that Washington, and definitely much of the American public, is flat out burned out on discussing the matter, for the most part.
There's no way of telling yet, but my hunch is that a lot of Americans are also exhausted by the reform tussle and may want to move on. Keeping this fight alive could serve the Republicans well among their Tea Party base, but it might turn off independent voters and others who wonder if the GOP has become a party of sore losers, who prefer re-fighting a lost battle to focusing on revving up the economy. The Republican Party is well-positioned to take advantage this fall of what will likely be months of high unemployment. Doing nothing and functioning as little more non-incumbents might serve GOP candidates well. Yet if GOPers come across as crusaders who want to revive the already-settled health care debate, voters may say, who wants to go through that again?