BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Karl Rove and his cabal would sell out on any issue if it means more power in the short-term, for they don’t stand for anything.”
- David N. Bossie, head of Citizens United.
Overestimate the deleterious effect the latest Civil War will have on the Republican Party at your own peril. But for now, Democrats should enjoy the heck out of the dust-up Karl Rove initiated last week with the launch of his Conservative Victory Project. However, do not misunderestimate Karl Rove.
Whatever else you may think of Rove, you certainly have to admire the way he has deftly turned the conversation away from his embarrassing Election night tantrum on Fox, and the abject failure that American Crossroads and the allied Crossroads GPS had in the November elections.
Last week, Rove -- fondly dubbed Turd Blossom (a flower which grows from a pile of cow dung) by former president George W. Bush -- announced the formation of the Conservative Victory Project, a new “super PAC” aimed at finding Republican Party candidates that can win statewide elections. The CVP is primarily aimed at neutering ultra-conservative candidates backed by the Tea Party and, in some cases, by the Christian Right, in Republican Party primaries. The CVP will "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts," The New York Times reported.
As the Times’ Nate Silver pointed out, Rove’s “effort makes plenty of sense on the surface” since “Republican primary voters nominated … inexperienced and extremely conservative candidates in Senate races in 2010 and 2012, often with the support of the Tea Party and other insurgent groups,” which resulted in losses of Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana, and before that, in Delaware and Nevada, that were considered imminently winnable.
But Silver was careful to note that Rove’s efforts to overwhelm unacceptable GOP primary candidates by filling the war chests of their opponents, will not necessarily result in the victories he’s looking for.
“The voters who do turn out in Republican Senate primaries are likely to be highly informed consumers of conservative-friendly news media outlets such as talk radio, prime-time shows on Fox News and conservative magazines and blogs,” Silver wrote. “They may also weigh the endorsements of prominent conservative politicians and organizations. An insurgent candidate who is presented in a favorable light in these outlets may have plenty of ability to reach her target voters, even if she is spending little or nothing on paid advertisements and outreach efforts.”
While Rove is claiming that he’s not looking for “a fight” with the Tea Party, and in fact has financially backed Tea Party-supported candidates like Florida’s Marco Rubio, the shit-storm that has resulted from Rove’s announcement will not result in a field of enchanting turd blossoms.
According to The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny, The Conservative Victory Project, which will be run by Steven J. Law, Rove “and the donors who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races.”
Welcome to the conservative “Civil War”
Chris Chocola, the president of Club for Growth, an extremely conservative group that has played a big role in GOP primaries, pointed out that the “electability argument” was a red herring as establishment-backed Republican Party candidates lost in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. He also noted that Rove “may energize the groups that they view as ‘the problem.’”
Conservative talk radio’s Mark Levin characterized Rove and his CVP as a “poison in conservative and Republican circles in many respects."
In a post on his very popular Red State blog, Erick Ericson, now a Fox News Channel contributor, cited past American Crossroads’ electoral failures and added: “I dare say any candidate who gets this group's support should be targeted for destruction by the conservative movement. They've made it really easy not to figure out who the terrible candidates will be in 2014.”
On Geraldo Rivera's radio show, Mike Huckabee, a Fox News Channel talk show host and former Arkansas governor, said: "Karl needs to go through a metamorphosis. You know this idea that somehow a handful of Republicans are going to attack Republicans that the handful doesn't like? I find that repulsive. I find it absolutely repulsive. This is not how you build a strong Republican Party, is by going after the people in your party who are different than you are. This is fratricide.”
Donald Trump tweeted: “Why are people giving money to Karl Rove when he just wasted $400M without any victories? Use your head.”; and, “Karl Rove is a total loser. Money given to him might as well be thrown down the drain.”
In a piece titled “The Civil War Has Begun,” David N. Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United, wrote that Rove “and company are finally out front with their disdain for the conservative movement…”:
“The battle lines are finally drawn, and conservatives should look at the New York Times article as our Lexington and Concord. This battle will be a long, hard slog against the establishment. … But we will prevail, because we actually believe in core principles and a cause greater than our egos and money.”
David Bossie issued the call: “We must beat back the attempted establishment’s coup d'état of the conservative mantel. Take to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media avenues to shine the light on Karl Rove’s cabal.”
The King candidacy
Right out of the box, Conservative Victory Project head Steven Law noted that the organization was “concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem.”
King, a controversial longtime Iowa Congressman, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat -- vacated by long-time Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin -- responded by immediately knocking out a fundraising plea to his supporters.
"Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me," he wrote in an email published online by the Des Moines Register. "Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest," King wrote.
“This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he's said are going to be hung around his neck," Law said.
Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin recently wrote that Rove has waged a “war on grass-roots conservatives for years now. … [he] and the deep-pocketed donors whose coffers he drained futilely this past year are doubling down on stupid. … Who needs Obama and his Team Chicago to destroy the Tea Party when you've got Rove and his big government band of elites?”
As Salon’s Alex Pareene recently pointed out, “The conservative movement is a massive and elaborate moneymaking venture. Numerous nonprofits exist almost solely to raise money, which they spend on their own salaries and, obviously, more fundraising. A conservative civil war is great for business. Karl Rove throwing money at ‘electable’ Republicans is a wonderful opportunity for people to raise money for groups that promise to elect crazies. More primary campaigns means more jobs for consultants. More third-party groups fighting for the soul of the party means more desperate pitches to gullible millionaires and billionaires. Plus more crappy books sold in bulk to conservative book clubs!”
Over the years, Karl Rove has outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed his conservative critics. He has easily out fundraised them as well. Expect more of the same.