To hell with Karl Rove

If you’ve met Karl Rove — as I did earlier this year at George Washington University — you know what an impressive person he is. The guy has an authoritative manner, and can talk politics very fluently, citing all sorts of historical and demographic facts to bolster his case.

Yet that does not, and certainly ought not, empower Rove to dictate policy to conservatives. In fact, this blurring of politics and policy in the Bush administration (for which Rove was significantly responsible) is one of the major causes of Republican “brand damage.” Here is Rove in Newsweek:

Republicans must find a way to support secure borders, a guest-worker program and comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation. An anti-Hispanic attitude is suicidal. As the party of Lincoln, Republicans have a moral obligation to make our case to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans who share our values. Whether we see gains in 2010 depends on it.

Why do we need liberals, when we have Karl Rove to push liberal propaganda?

  • Opposition to amnesty is not an “anti-Hispanic attitude,” and to hell with any Republican who repeats that liberal lie. Illegal aliens are not citizens, and non-citizens cannot vote, and if anyone — whatever their ethnic background — wants to vote for a party that supports lawbreaking and opposes sovereignty, the Democrats already own that vote.
  • Amnesty does not “strengthen citizenship,” and it is oxymoronic to suggest any such thing.
  • Amnesty is not necessary to “keep America a welcoming nation.” The United States now admits legally about 800,000 immigrants every year. Whether that is a good policy or not is an argument entirely separate from the question of what to do about the approximately 15 million illegal aliens in the country. What part of “illegal” don’t you understand, Karl?
  • As to the need to “grow our economy” . . . well, heckuva job, Karl. When unemployment was below 5 percent, the argument for turning a blind eye to illegals might have had some traction, but as the nation’s plummets into its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I’m thinking that’s not going to be such an easy sell.

Going back to February 2006, I remember the immigration panel at CPAC (a panel that included Mark Krikorian and Phyllis Schlafly) trying to explain that the administration’s support for amnesty was political poison. Yet the administration not only pushed amnesty in 2006, but even after being repudiated in the mid-term elections, came back and pushed again in 2007, then the GOP let the chief Senate sponsor of amnesty get the presidential nomination. And where were those Hispanic hordes stampeding to the polls to vote for Sen. Juan McAmnesty? Nowhere.

Transparent pandering on the wrong side of an issue is not a politically viable strategy for Republicans, since liberal Democrats can always outpander the GOP. If a majority of Hispanic voters are not supporting the Republican Party, the reasons have more to do with socioeconomic factors than with a monomaniacal support for amnesty among Hispanics. If the only way to get more Hispanic votes is to endorse subversive policies, then the GOP ought to be happy with the support of whatever minority of Hispanic voters oppose subversion.

Has it occurred to anyone — as it has apparently never occurred to Rove, Bush or McCain — that many law-abiding Hispanic citizens are insulted by politicians who pander to illegals? Certainly Puerto Ricans (born with U.S. citizenship) and Cubans (legal refugees and their descendants) have no personal stake in amnesty, and are undoubtedly troubled to hear Republicans like Rove insinuate that “Hispanic” and “illegal alien” are synonyms, so that to be anti-amnesty is to be anti-Hispanic.

Finally, Rove throws his appeal for amnesty into the same paragraph with the idea of appealing to black voters when — as anyone who bothers to talk to actual black people can easily discover — most black people are as outraged as anyone else over illegal immigration. People like Karl Rove apparently think black people are too stupid to catch the racist implications when Republicans go out of their way to praise the “family values” and “work ethic” of “law-abiding” illegals.

Message to Karl Rove: Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean other people are stupid.

UPDATE: Rusty says Karl Rove’s already been to hell. No, Rusty, you’re thinking of Scooter Libby.

UPDATE II: Both Donald Douglas and Steve in TN side with Rove, without addressing the central problem: On what basis does the GOP make an appeal to currently Democrat-leaning Hispanic voters that is consistent with conservative values? Where is the conservative issue that is going to make those Hispanics who are now voting 2-to-1 for Democrats reverse their preference?

Douglas accuses me of “stereotypical ignorance of Latinos” — heh!– and then references his own article arguing that “at least 20 percent of Latino voters are traditional conservatives with deep religious affiliations.” And the point is . . .?

The problem is not that Republicans are “blowing off” that 20% constituency, as Douglas says, rather it is the fact that the majority of Hispanics vote Democratic and always have. With all of his “strategery,” Rove never changed that. In his best year, 2004, Bush got 44% of the Hispanic vote. I haven’t done the math, but I’m betting that if you look at this year’s exit polls, calculate the effect if McCain had gotten that same 44% of Hispanic votes, Obama would still win by an Electoral College landslide.

Which is to say, Rove doesn’t have an answer to this problem, and the Hispanic vote does not actually explain why McCain lost the election. The real explanation, put simply, is that the Bush administration has made the Republican Party unpopular. Why is it that Karl Rove, who did so much to drive the GOP into this ditch, is trusted to tell the GOP how to get out of the ditch? It’s as if in the mid-’70s, Republicans were turning to H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman for advice on how to recover from the Watergate scandal. Utter madness.

UPDATE III: Oh, you got to love this:

Luis Cortes, one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential American evangelicals and a strong Bush supporter, says immigration is the reason.
Today Cortes is coy when asked how he voted. He said the immigration issue shaped his vote. “Of course it did. But I’m not going to say anything else,” he said, then added, “I always vote in brown’s interest, meaning Latino people’s interest.”

Losing a pandering competition is worse than not pandering at all. Nobody respects a panderer.

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