Rove develops a pattern

ROVE DEVELOPS A PATTERN…. There’s nothing wrong with political commentators developing a signature style, but when the common thread of a pundit’s work is unintentional irony, there’s a problem.

Let’s take Karl Rove, for example. Last week, the Bush/Cheney “architect” used his role as a high-profile media professional to accuse the Obama White House of using hardball political tactics. A couple of weeks before that, Rove accused the president of looking at every policy issue “from a political perspective.” A couple of weeks before that, Rove complained about the scourge of budget deficits. A couple of weeks before that, Rove accused the president of relying on “straw men” for his arguments. A couple of weeks before that, Rove decried White House “power grabs.” (Rove also, about a year ago, accused the New York Times of having “outed a CIA agent,” which “obviously puts the CIA agent in danger.” Rove added that disclosing the name of a CIA operative represents “a very callous view about our nation’s security and interests.”)

Notice the pattern?

Today, Rove is in rare form, arguing that President Obama is “polarizing,” because of his “petty” partisanship, while George W. Bush tried to bring Democrats and Republicans together.

The Pew Research Center reported last week that President Barack Obama “has the most polarized early job approval of any president” since surveys began tracking this 40 years ago. The gap between Mr. Obama’s approval rating among Democrats (88%) and Republicans (27%) is 61 points. This “approval gap” is 10 points bigger than George W. Bush’s at this point in his presidency, despite Mr. Bush winning a bitterly contested election.

Part of Mr. Obama’s polarized standing can be attributed to a long-term trend. University of Missouri political scientist John Petrocik points out that since 1980, each successive first term president has had more polarized support than his predecessor with the exception of 1989, when George H.W. Bush enjoyed a modest improvement over Ronald Reagan’s 1981 standing.

But rather than end or ameliorate that trend, Mr. Obama’s actions and rhetoric have accelerated it. His campaign promised post-partisanship, but since taking office Mr. Obama has frozen Republicans out of the deliberative process, and his response to their suggestions has been a brusque dismissal that “I won.”

Compare this with Mr. Bush’s actions in the aftermath of his election.

First, the loyal Bushies’ newfound fascination with the “polarizing” talking point is wildly misleading. Second, for Karl Rove to argue that Bush, far more than Obama, worked to bring people together is simply hilarious.

You don’t suppose Rove has identified some of his (and Bush’s) biggest faults, and is simply projecting them on to the Obama White House, do you?

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