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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Have Bigger Problems Than Rove

In his Bullmoose post today, “Reviling Rove,” Marshall Wittmann makes a couple of important points Dems should heed in focusing their energies on punishing Karl Rove for his role in Plamegate:

Democrats can’t merely be the party of “no” – or “we hate Karl”. While we are seething with our justifiable anger, the Republican Chairman is making serious overtures to the African-American community. And what kind of effective out reach is the Democratic Party making to groups that have been estranged from the party in recent years?
The politics of scandal do not always pay off for the opposition party. In the 1988 campaign, Iran-contra did not doom an incumbent Veep with ties to the scandal. And Democrats actually made gains in 1998 in the midst of the Lewinsky frenzy.
Surely the donkey should pursue Rove, but Democrats should not be consumed with him.

The other point Bullmoose could have made is that Rovism was around before Karl Rove and will likely be a cornerstone of GOP strategy and tactics long after he is gone. Rovethink is just a bent form of the same ruthless mentality embraced by Haldeman and Erlichman during the Nixon Administration, or Lee Atwater during Bush I. Democrats need to develop a more effective strategy for confronting dirty politics, regardless of who is behind it.
Rove should be held accountable for his role in the Plame affair, because endangering our intelligence personnel is a very serious transgression. But Rove-bashing, however richly deserved, will not do anything to inspire confidence in the Democratic Party. For that, we have to put more energy into developing strong candidates who know how to deliver a consistent, credible message that wins the support of swing voters.