As the Democratic Party convention gets under way, the public focus should rightly be on the bankrupt philosophy, the stench of corruption and the atmosphere of failure that pervades the political organization headed by Barack Obama.
But something is blocking a clear view right now – and it’s not a slip of the tongue by Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, who once again leads his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill, in the polls.
It’s the person who, more than anyone else, tried to demonize and vilify Akin for that slip of the tongue. No, I’m not talking about Rachel Maddow or Arianna Huffington. I’m talking about Republican political consultant Karl Rove, who was so quick out of the box to announce publicly that his super PAC, supported to the tune of more than $100 million by Republican donors seeking to win back the U.S. Senate, would withhold all support to the media-beleaguered Akin.
It’s now Rove who is hurting his party, not Akin.
While Akin was back home campaigning, Rove was in Tampa shaking down 70 of the party’s top donors boasting of how his super PAC was going to lead the Republicans to victory in crucial swing states.
According to a Businessweek reporter’s account of that meeting, Rove made the following remark: “We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”
Rove later apologized to Akin, who, unlike Rove, quickly accepted his regrets.
What Rove said behind closed doors is far more disgraceful than anything Akin, a gentleman, ever thought of saying. But an apology is hardly enough to erase a remark like that. So it’s time for Rove to take his own advice to Akin and get out of the way so he doesn’t become a distraction in this race.
As the grand dame of the conservative movement, Phyllis Schlafly, said: “Karl Rove has made himself toxic to Republicans by his incredibly offensive and dangerous statement suggesting the murder of Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri. Any candidate or network who hires Rove will now be tarnished with this most malicious remark ever made in Republican politics. … Rove has been calling on Todd Akin to resign, but the one who should resign because he made an embarrassing, malicious and downright stupid remark is Karl Rove.”
It should be noted that Schlafly is from Missouri.
She is right. In fact, she understates the case. Rove has got to go. This is a man who has never deserved the “genius” accolades heaped upon him by the establishment Republicans. He wallows in the hyperbolic adjective bestowed upon him by purveyors of conventional wisdom who actually believe he was the “architect” of the political victories of George W. Bush.
Bush nearly lost the 2000 election to Al Gore – a national joke. And Bush squeaked out victory again against John Kerry in 2004 thanks to the effort of the righteous Swiftboat campaign Rove derided and publicly condemned.
Rove instantly went ballistic over Akin’s unfortunate but innocent phraseology. That’s because he never liked Akin and never supported him. He bet on a primary candidate who lost to Akin, who was not the country club Republican choice to take on McCaskill.
Rove was wrong about Akin. But if he believes Akin could hurt the entire Republican effort in 2012, he should graciously take his own advice and get out of the way. Rove is much more closely identified with Mitt Romney and the national campaign to win back the Senate and strengthen Republican control of the House than Todd Akin ever was.
Rove needs to find some other work this campaign season. He has self-destructed. He has become political baggage for any Republican supported by him. And that work should not include his job as a paid Fox News contributor. It should not include his all-too-frequent appearances on Sean Hannity’s radio show. He’s been exposed as a political goofball by his dangerously explosive remark.
Mitt Romney counseled Akin to leave the race. I think that was a mistake. But it would be an even bigger mistake not to demand that Rove remove himself from this year’s campaign.
If I were Karl Rove, I would be praying for Todd Akin this campaign season. I would be invoking God’s protection on him. And I would be beseeching the Almighty that he will win his bid to unseat Claire McCaskill. If Rove were truly a team player, he would step aside and trust others with cooler heads and more controlled tongues to guide the Republican effort.
He should go so quietly into the night so that we would have to look hard for his whereabouts before Nov. 6.