Karl Rove Is Projecting

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Karl Rove warns that Democrats not to over-interpret the 2012 election results in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday, arguing that the supposed "permanent Democratic majority" could be gone in an election or two if they overreach. Rove, of all people, should know. As George W. Bush's adviser, Rove planned to create a permanent Republican majority, in part by pushing for immigration reform, passing the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and trying to privatize Social Security. Rove, of course, failed. Democrats won a congressional majority in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. Though Republicans recaptured the House in 2010, Democrats held onto the Senate and the presidency in 2012. The financial crisis and Republican overreach during the Bush years are why a "permanent Democratic majority" is even a topic of discussion. Rove does not mention this in his column. It's part of Rove's amusing pattern of projecting his own mistakes and motivations onto his political enemies.

As Steve Benen has pointed out, Rove has a tendency toward projection. Rove argued that 2012 was nothing like 2004 in a May 30, 2012 column. But his columns show he at least subconsciously saw history repeating. In April 2011, Rove wrote that Obama would try to win reelection by disqualifying Mitt Romney. This was true! It's also what Bush did to John Kerry. Rove continuously denied that Bush and Obama's strategies had anything in common. "If Mr. Bush won re-election by focusing on the Republican Party’s base, exactly how is it that he won 23 percent more votes than he received in 2000?" Rove wrote in October 2011. (We'd note that Bush had a lot of room to grow from 2000, given that he didn't even win more votes than Al Gore.) Rove again argued that Obama was trying to disqualify Romney as a "plutocrat" in September 2012, but confidently predicted that Romney could turn that around by winning the presidential debates. (Kerry won the presidential debates, too.) On Thursday, Rove gave this advice to Democrats: "Demography isn't destiny because nothing is permanent in politics—and Democrats' insistence to the contrary will likely lead them to overreach, ignoring issues such as jobs, anemic growth and deficits in order to tackle gun control and climate change." They'll learn more from his example than his advice.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.