Karl Rove’s flameout

The Fox News attack – during which Mr. Rove questioned Ms. O’Donnell’s mental stability and suggested she wouldn’t receive NRSC support – irreparably damaged Rove with a large segment of the GOP. One of among scores of scornful conservative bloggers quickly dubbed the scene “one of the most jaw-dropping moments in Fox News history.” Most noteworthy to conservatives about the attack on Ms. O’Donnell, however, was that Mr. Rove most likely agreed with her political views. Nonetheless, he would rather support a liberal Republican (who he likely wouldn’t agree with) simply so the party could potentially grab a thin, mandate-deprived majority in the Senate. The sense of a lack of principles seemed only to be underscored when Rove, under intense fire, backed off his harsh criticisms.

This in essence has always been the Rove political strategy – attaining short-term political victories in lieu of the harder work of articulating a coherent philosophy, and then disparaging anyone standing in his way…

The party still hasn’t rinsed itself clean from the Rove-Gillespie approach, as vapid and intellectually lazy as “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” The Obamas’ alleged “terrorist fist bump,” the nutty birther movement, the lame controversy over who is wearing an American flag pin on their lapel, and books claiming Obama is “inviting” a terrorist attack – all are legacies of a strategy focused on demonization over debate, tactics over ideas. This approach has disillusioned even Republicans. By the end of the Bush administration, the GOP ranked at the bottom of public approval polls. Though a reclusive Bush’s numbers are rebounding, according to some polls, his party’s apparently aren’t. Even as they surge against Democratic candidates for Congress, the Republican Party, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this August, is at its lowest approval rating – ever. Clearly voters haven’t been seduced by a brilliant Rovian strategy this year, but instead simply are intent on sending a message to the Obama Democrats amid a struggling economy with the only available option.