David Horowitz

Karl Rove’s Biggest Mistake

Posted on July 20 2010 10:00 pm
David Horowitz is the editor-in-chief of NewsReal Blog and FrontPage Magazine. He is the President and CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His most recent book is Reforming Our Universities

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Editor’s Note: Karl Rove recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal about his biggest mistake during his years in the Bush Administration: not effectively defending the reasons for the Iraq War. Below is the introduction David Horowitz gave Rove when he was a keynote speaker at Restoration Weekend in 2008.

One thing I’ve noticed about presidential elections is that everybody knows how to win them.  And when they are over, everybody can tell you exactly how they could have been won.

We all do it, but in our better moments we all realize it’s a little more difficult and that elections are our versions of the Eleusinian Mysteries. And so we have a priesthood of pollsters and political consultants to figure them out.  These wizards of our political process have to be adept at computer models and databases but they have to be adroit with Ouji boards as well.

Consider the now famous Howard Stern show where an interviewer was sent to Harlem to ask Obama voters some questions. Stern’s interviewer asked if they agreed with a series of prominent issues that Obama supported. Each person questioned said they were. Which was all right, except that each one of the issues the interviewer associated with Obama was actually a prominent feature of Senator McCain’s campaign. Are you okay with Obama’s pledge to stay in Iraq for 100 years if necessary? Sure. Are you ok with his pro-life position? Yes. Are you comfortable with his pick of Palin as his running mate? I am.

Twenty-percent of the people who voted for Barack Obama, a man whose close political partners include people who are so far to the left I wouldn’t have hung out with them when I was a Marxist identified themselves as “conservatives.”

That’s the electorate you have to figure out in order to win. That’s where the Ouija board comes in. Go back two years, which is when this election began. How many of you would have bet that a Kenyan enigma from Indonesia and Honolulu would be America’s president today?

I’m here to introduce a man whose computer program and Ouija board transformed the electoral map first of the state of Texas and then of the nation at large. In the 2000 presidential race Karl Rove architected a victory that was so unlikely they had to change political science models that had predicted elections for 100 years. By masterminding the triumph of George W. Bush in 2000, Karl got us off on the right foot in the war against the Islamo-fascists, who present us with what is perhaps the greatest threat this nation has ever faced. And if that were all Karl Rove ever did, as we Jews say: Dayenu. That would be enough.

But Karl did a lot more than that, as I’ve already intimated. I have a special appreciation for what he did in the state of Texas because on my trips to Austin to speak at its leftwing university over the years I made a few stops to see a gentleman who ran an operation called Citizens for Texas.  This gentleman had spent his whole life trying to get Republicans into office in a state where Republican elected officials were as rare as unicorns.

On the wall of his office, there were two maps. One was from the early 70s, a time when Karl was still running to become chairman of College Republicans. On the map there were two red pins which represented all the elective office holders in the state of Texas who were Republicans. All of them. The whole state except for those two pins was Democrat.

The other map was from 20 years later. It must have been before 1995 when I visited his office because Ann Richards was still governor and nobody in Texas thought anyone could beat her. Except Karl Rove. That second map – which was a contemporary map circa 1995 was covered in red pins. When Karl engineered the victory in which George Bush beat Ann Richards Republicans held every statewide office in Texas. Karl was behind many many of the campaigns that accomplished this remarkable transformation. And of course this was to become the base from which he would launch Bush’s successful 2000 presidential run.

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