Has Karl Rove screwed George W. a second time? Think back to that long ago time before last Tuesday’s election. The Bush campaign was following a strategy based on Rove’s ‘band wagon’ theory of election finishes. According to Rove, toward the end of an election voters look to see who’s winning and often decide to vote for that candidate. So projecting an image of confidence may be even more important than whether the polls actually give any cause for optimism. You just need to look like you’re winning, and the voters will take it from there. At least that’s Rove’s theory.
That’s why in the week before the election Rove was telling reporters that Bush was going to win by 6%-7% of the vote and had him going to states like New Jersey and California, ones he hadn’t a prayer of winning. As we now know, Bush not only didn’t win big, he didn’t win at all — at least in the popular vote. Bush would have done a lot better focusing on Florida and not taking that victory lap in the final days.
After the election it seems like they did the same thing over again. The Bush plan — which I gaurentee you came from Rove — was to just look like you’re the president-elect and everyone will believe you. It was just a post-election of Rove’s confidence game.
But Bush and Rove committed the cardinal sin of politics: they fell for their own spin. They really thought it was all over. And because of that they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to request recounts in areas where it could have helped them. Bush may still pull this out. But if he does he’ll do so by having a friendly Secretary of State in Florida use her power to prevent an accurate vote count in several key counties. Can you say ‘legitimacy problems.’
I’m hoping the Bush operation puts Rove in charge of their legal strategy. Actually, come to think of it, maybe they have?