Following the collapse of the Bush Administration's chief domestic obsession over the last six and a half years—amnesty for illegal aliens—the President's electoral strategist and policy advisor Karl Rove is leaving the White House.
As we've pointed out before, the Grand Strategy of the Bush Administration has been:
It's not surprising that this has failed both as policy and as politics.
Even at this late date, many of Rove's Establishment friends and enemies still see his push for more Latino immigration as inspired. Last week, Democratic warhorse pundit E.J. Dionne opined on what Rove did right back in the good old days.
"He laid heavy stress on education reform, stealing one of the Democrats' best issues, and spoke warmly of Latino immigrants. Just as McKinley appealed to the new immigrant groups of his time, so did Rove and Bush understand the urgency of winning a significant share of the growing Hispanic vote."[Waiting for the Republican Majority, August 14, 2007]
But simple arithmetic shows that even if the GOP did increase its share of the Hispanic vote (and I have shown that it did not) the increasing number of Hispanics would still have meant Bush & Co were, in absolute terms, deeper in the hole.
Dionne's account makes as much sense as the shop that intended to lose money on every item it sold but make up for it by increasing volume!
Similarly, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson writes from his new perch as an op-ed columnist for the Washington Post on August 17:
"We can't be the party of America," [Rove] says, "and get 13 percent of the African American vote."
(Hey, whatever happened to the Reagan coalition—after 11 years of Bush Dynasty rule?)
Amazing as it may seem to readers of the Main Stream Media, the law still counts a white person's vote the same as anybody else's. You might think from all the attention paid in the press to minority blocs that their votes count double. But it's not true.
Gerson gurgles on:
"Looking back at his career, Rove is particularly proud that 'when we ran in Texas in 1998, among the statewide Republican ticket, a minority of the candidates were white men.'"
One example of Rove's minority-mindedness: As long ago as 1989, Rove was already promoting the career of the Alberto Gonzales, the Bush consigliere who has risen all the way to being Attorney General on the strength of his beige skin and little else.
Minor minority detail: Gonzales has been a disaster.
Rove's rationale was contained in a 1985 memo he wrote to his then-candidate for governor of Texas, Bill Clements:
"The purpose of saying you gave teachers a record pay increase is to reassure suburban voters with kids, not to win the votes of teachers. Similarly, emphasizing your appointments of women and minorities will not win you the support of feminists and the leaders of the minority community; but it will bolster your support among Republican primary voters and urban independents."
Maybe. And Rove probably visualized his illegal alien amnesty likewise: as a way to reassure nice people that Bush was nice.
But the problem with Rove's amnesty, though, is that immigration is not a micropolicy, like consultant Dick Morris's 1996 brainstorm of having Bill Clinton advocate uniforms for public school students or even teacher salaries. Immigration is the macropolicy—one that has as much long term impact on the nation as anything.
Of course, even merely as a short-term political manipulator, Rove completely botched the immigration issue. And it's not as if our criticism of the electoral logic of the Bush-Rove dream of increasing Mexican immigration was only recently validated. Instead, Bush and Rove advanced their desire for more Mexicans in 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007. And each time Congressional Republicans rejected it as bad for the country and bad for the GOP.
As I wrote back on September 10, 2001 (!!!) in the wake of strong Congressional resistance to the Administration's immigration mania:
"So why did Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush braintrust misread the political situation? Why did the White House fail to anticipate Congressional Republicans' concerns that amnesty would undermine the GOP? The Bush team appears to have been the victims of residing in an echo chamber with a mainstream media corps that—for reasons of innumeracy, fashion, self-interest, self-image and fear—failed to challenge the Bush advisers' sloppy thinking about immigration." [Analysis: Why Bush blundered on immigrants By Steve Sailer, United Press International September 10, 2001]
Luckily for Rove and Bush—there's no other way to put it—3,000 Americans were murdered the next day. So the massive public humiliation of having Republicans in Congress decisively crush their dreams of a Hispanicized polity that would elect future generations of the Bush dynasty was postponed for six long, wasted years.
Rove's immigration strategy, along with the assumption in the press that it was a political masterstroke, was always based on the interaction of political correctness, smugness, and sheer laziness.
David Frum wrote recently in the New York Times:
"In my brief service as a speechwriter inside the Bush administration, I often wondered why it was that skeptical experts on issues like immigration could never get even a hearing for their point of view. We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters." [Building a Coalition, Forgetting to Rule, August 14, 2007]
The real problem for the GOP is less Hispanic voters than Hispanic leaders—92 percent of all elected Hispanic politicians are Democrats.
The reason is obvious if you stop and think about it (which apparently nobody does): since most Hispanic citizens vote Democratic, most Hispanic-majority districts in the country are Democratic. And those are the ones in which Hispanics are most probable to get elected. So, it makes all the sense in the world for politically ambitious young Hispanics to join the party that's more likely to get them elected to office: the Democrats.
So, what Bush and Rove have been doing by not enforcing the immigration laws is helping create a new Democratic Latino elite that will plague the GOP for decades.
As politics, Rove's immigration ploy was negligent at the levels of simple logic and numeracy. Seldom discussed, in either the White House or the press, was the fundamental question of how big the Hispanic vote actually was. Pundits influenced by Rove, like Michael Barone, routinely overestimated the number of Latino voters, claiming they "could be 9 percent in 2004." (Actual figure: 6.0 percent, according to the Census Bureau's authoritative survey).
The implication was that only opening the borders even wider would assuage the onrushing hordes of Hispanic voters. Like Kent Brockman said in the Simpsons: "And I for one welcome our new immigrant overlords."
Rove's thinking was just, well, stupid. Sure, the Hispanic (Democratic) elite wanted more immigration—because adding more Hispanic warm bodies makes them more powerful. But there was little evidence that more immigration was a burning demand among typical Hispanic voters. They instead tend to be traditional "tax and spend" Democrats. (Which is bad enough, from the GOP's point of view.)
And now the Pew Hispanic Center has crunched the Census Bureau's numbers for 2006 and discovered that the total Latino share of the vote last year fell—to 5.8 percent. According to Pew:
"while Latinos represented nearly half the total population growth in the U.S. between 2002 and 2006, the Latino share among all new eligible voters was just 20%. By comparison, whites accounted for 24% of the population growth and 47% of all eligible new voters."
Overall, whites cast almost 12 ballots for every one ballot cast by a Hispanic.
The rise and fall of Karl Rove demonstrates, once again, that incompetence is rife among the Washington elites.
Rove is finally paying a price for his ineptitude. But will those in the press that he so easily hornswoggled about immigration ever be called to account?