Articles by Karl Rove
The magnitude and malevolence of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, combined with President Obama’s pathetic reaction, are guaranteed to deeply affect America’s presidential contest. The question is which candidate is best prepared to take on the president’s fecklessness.
Mr. Obama’s news conference Monday in Turkey was stunning. He called the Paris attacks—which French President François Hollande has declared an “act of war”—a mere “setback” in the campaign against Islamic State, also known as ISIS. He urged reporters not to “lose sight that there has been progress being made.”
Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate was the best so far. The moderators emphasized substance and the candidates complied, most doing themselves some good — the biggest exception being Donald Trump.
Four contenders again put in fine performances: In the main debate, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; in the preliminary round, Gov. Chris Christie.
At the past 16 Republican National Conventions, the party’s presidential nominee has been selected on the first ballot. That long streak might end next year. For the first time since 1948, when the GOP nominated Thomas E. Dewey for president after three rounds of voting, Republicans might take more than one ballot to settle on their nominee.
A few factors have increased the chances of a multi-ballot convention. First, Republicans have the largest field of serious contenders in history: 17 candidates entered the race and 15 remain. The bigger the field, the longer it could take to settle the contest.
After months of unremitting bad news and cratering poll numbers, Hillary Clinton finally enjoyed a good week. On Oct. 21 Vice President Joe Biden, potentially her most formidable opponent, declined to challenge her. The following day Mrs. Clinton testified coolly before the Benghazi Select Committee, after which the media declared that Republicans hadn’t laid a glove on her. Two days later, amid improving poll numbers, Iowa Democrats received her warmly at their annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner.
But although last week’s events helped Mrs. Clinton in the short run, they may make her a weaker candidate in next year’s general election.
Having led the polls for three months, Donald Trump has shown he’s no flash in the pan. Voters and the media should therefore treat him as a traditional front-runner, examine his temperament and require him to go beyond sound bites.
A governing agenda is essential to win the White House. Candidates must demonstrate mastery of the issues and cannot wing it. Platitudes don’t cut it for swing voters. Inquiring minds might like to hear Mr. Trump explain what specifically he would do as president.
The Democratic debate Tuesday revealed the best thing that Hillary Clinton has going for her: the weakness of her challengers.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came off as an elderly, dyspeptic Bilbo Baggins attending a British Labour Party meeting. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sounded like an overly earnest, slightly too intense 1950s ad man making a bad pitch. Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee was as hapless as a puppy stranded in a hurricane. And former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, probably sensing how inconsequential he is, was angry all night. It’s hard to believe this crew will draw many viewers for future debates.
Of all Barack Obama’s qualities, among the most striking is his combination of self-righteousness and lack of self-awareness. Consider his news conference Friday. Mr. Obama attempted again to shift responsibility for the weakest recovery in recorded U.S. economic history onto Republicans. “We would be doing even better,” the president said, “if we didn’t have to keep on dealing with unnecessary crises in Congress every few months.”
Yet Mr. Obama now threatens to veto the annual defense-authorization bill unless Congress increases nondefense spending and allows the transfer of terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which the president has pledged to close.
John Boehner is a decent, honorable man who displayed his deep commitment to country and party last week, announcing that he will resign from the House of Representatives in October and relinquish the speaker’s gavel.
Mr. Boehner would have easily beaten any challenge to his leadership. But having decided some time ago that a quarter-century in Congress was enough, he chose to spare his Republican colleagues and the institution he loves a bruising fight.
For the right reasons, congressional Republicans want to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider.
Horrific undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood officials blithely talking about selling fetal organs. One video shows a former technician for StemExpress, a company that worked with Planned Parenthood, explaining how she used scissors to cut apart “the most gestated fetus and closest thing to a baby I’ve seen” to “procure a brain.”
The difficulty with a Thursday column after a Wednesday presidential debate is that the newspaper is put to bed hours before the debate starts. But here are a few observations about the GOP contest that don’t depend on how specific candidates fared in their second face-off.
The race is likely to swirl unpredictably for some time to come. On this day in 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry led the presidential field with 29.9% in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Still in the future were the periods during which Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were each the front-runner.