Articles by Karl Rove
In early December 2005, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani led the CNN/USA Today/Gallup GOP primary matchup for 2008. Barack Obama wasn't even included in its Democratic survey, and Hillary Clinton had as much support as her opponents combined. This is a useful reminder that Republicans mentioned as 2016 presidential contenders should pay no attention to current primary head-to-head polls.
Yet the coming year does present two significant challenges—and opportunities—for anyone hoping to be the GOP's standard-bearer in 2016.
Who is to blame for the epic failure of the Healthcare.gov website? Republicans, of course. At least, that's what President Obama claimed on a teleconference call Monday sponsored by Organizing for Action, his grass-roots advocacy group. Mr. Obama told the 200,000 supporters who dialed in that "obviously, we haven't been getting a lot of cooperation from the other party."
So is this supposed to mean that House Speaker John Boehner wrote the faulty code for the website, and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell drafted the dozens of speeches in which the president promised that Americans could keep their health plans?
A few minutes into last Thursday's interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, President Obama said of the millions whose health insurance was canceled, "I am sorry that they—you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me."
It was not a real apology. And what truly mattered was what Mr. Obama said at the interview's start. "First of all, I meant what I said," he told Mr. Todd, about his promises that people could keep their health plan if they liked it. "And we worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn't do enough—a good enough job—and I regret that."
After leading in the Virginia governor's race by double digits in recent polls, Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli by a mere 2.5 percentage points. This despite having outspent Mr. Cuccinelli by $34 million to $20 million.
The Republican did not lose because he ran a lousy general election campaign. His was a disciplined effort focused on jobs, Mr. McAuliffe's checkered business career and, in the closing days, ObamaCare's incompetent implementation and the law's negative consequences for Americans. Mr. Cuccinelli was an electoral victim of the ill-devised strategy some Republicans employed to shut down the federal government unless ObamaCare was defunded.
For nearly four years, President Obama has frequently offered some variation of this promise about the Affordable Care Act: "If you like your health-care plan," as he said in a speech to the American Medical Association in June 2009, "you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."
NBC News caused a kerfuffle on Monday when it reported the Obama administration knew for years that millions would be forced off their preferred insurance plan. This hardly amounts to a revelation: the president and his people, along with Democratic Party leaders, had to know that this would happen.
He sounded every bit the pitchman—repeating a 1-800 number, promising that "call centers are available" and reassuring viewers "you can get your questions answered by real people, 24 hours a day." And boy was he selling: "The product is good. . . . It's high quality and it's affordable. People can save money, significant money . . . . And we know the demand is there. People are rushing to see what's available."
But this pitchman wasn't selling chamois rags to insomniacs at 3 a.m. President Barack Obama was pushing his signature legislation in the Rose Garden on Monday, frantically trying to distract attention from the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges.
There's plenty of blame to go around for the chaos in Washington, but at the top of the list is the absence of presidential leadership. When Congress is close to agreement but still divided, the country rightly counts on its chief executive to bridge the gaps, make the compromises, and smooth the way to passage.
Instead, President Obama deliberately withdrew from negotiations over the debt ceiling and government shutdown.
Polls show both parties are suffering in the government shutdown and debt-ceiling fights. The numbers for Republicans are marginally worse than those for President Obama and Democrats, but no one is escaping without damage.
For example, an Oct. 3-6 CNN poll found 63% are angry with Republicans for how they've handled the shutdown compared with 57% angry with Democrats and 53% angry with Mr. Obama.
They said they wanted to avoid it, but at the stroke of midnight Monday, four people got the government shutdown they wanted.
President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted a shutdown to restore the president's sagging approval ratings, cost Republicans House and Senate seats in the 2014 midterm election, and get their way in the fights over a continuing resolution and debt ceiling. In the CR battle, Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats want to increase spending by $91 billion this fiscal year above the levels set by the 2011 budget agreement.
This has been a bad year for President Obama. He lost the sequester PR battle, failed to pass gun control, stalled progress on immigration reform, and handled Syria ineptly. There's been tremendous problems implementing his signature health law, whose unpopularity is rising. Mr. Obama's job-approval numbers have been dropping, down in the Gallup poll to 46% now from 56% in January.
In the face of these setbacks, the president has reverted to form: dishonest and ad hominem attacks against his political opposition. To listen to his rhetoric, there are no honest differences with Republicans; his opponents are not wrong but wicked, motivated by vicious desires to hurt their fellow Americans and the country.