In the end, Karl Rove was wrong. Dramatically wrong. Running to the base worked in the short term, but might have killed the Republican Party in the long term. If there is going to be any permanent majority, it's going to be the Democrats, not the Republicans.
And who do the Republicans have to thank for that? Karl Rove. When asked about Rove's departure, John Edwards said, "Goodbye, good riddance." He might as well have been speaking for the whole Republican Party.
A permanent 51% majority? That is an idea so devoid of logic, it is amazing that anyone ever took it seriously. Even if you believed its underlying premise - which you definitely shouldn't have - the smallest demographic shift would undermine this "brilliant" strategy. There is nothing permanent about 51% in politics.
Rove was always so optimistic about elections, including 2006. Part of the reason for this was because he knew the fix was in. He knew that his minions had worked hard to cage voters, to give less voting machines to heavily Democratic districts, contested minority voters and done every little dirty trick in the book. And to be fair, they also worked hard to turn out their Christian army of voters. The kind who don't question their candidates and vote like robots for anyone their pre-paid preacher tells them to.
So, Rove figured that Republicans would win any close election. But what he didn't figure on is non-close elections. And that if you drive hard enough toward your base, then you won't have any more close elections. He thought there would be no price to pay for appealing only to the most conservative, narrow-minded, theocratic, xenophobic and militaristic people in the country. He was wrong.
Thanks to Rove the Republicans have lost the middle. And they have lost it for a long time to come. This will do untold damage to the Republican Party. So, there is great irony that the man Democrats loved to hate will come to be known as the scourge of the Republican Party.
But Rove didn't just break the Republican Party. Rove also leaves behind a broken president, a broken army, a slew of broken laws and a broke country. He spent heavily in districts and programs that he thought would help Republicans. He spent up the good will of the US abroad and Republicans at home. He's like the unscrupulous captain of a sinking ship getting off the boat before it goes under and takes everyone else down with it.
Now Bush is left on the boat without his brain, without any political capital and without any supporters. Plus, he has a madman roaming the decks looking to spear another Middle Eastern country loaded with oil. If Dick "Captain Ahab" Cheney is the only one steering the ship now, God help us all. Because there is some chance it might even get worse.
But politically speaking, if the Democrats had any sense, they'd be sending Rove parting gifts. Thanks for the memories. The only thing better than Rove leaving the White House would be for him to work for one of the leading Republican contenders. Please, please run another campaign where you try to appeal to only the Republican base. See how that works out for you and your "permanent majority."