To hear Karl Rove call rival center-right political organizations ineffective is to witness an enraged purse dog yapping at a Rottweiler. The bigger hound’s expression — the canine equivalent of “are you kidding me?” — is precisely the response Rove deserves.
After last November’s massively disappointing election, “Bush’s Brain” blamed the debacle on grassroots conservative groups. The problem, Rove argued, is that these supposedly far-right organizations fielded candidates, especially for Senate, who were too rightwing to win. Thus, Rove launched his so-called Conservative Victory Project to promote reputedly mainstream Republicans who could prevail.
“Our object is to avoid having stupid candidates who can’t win general elections, who are undisciplined, can’t raise money, aren’t putting together the support necessary to win a general election campaign,” Rove told Fox News Sunday, “because this money is too difficult to raise to be spending it on behalf of candidates who have little chance of winning in a general election.”
But, like a shrill Chihuahua, Rove has a lot of nerve lecturing the major dogs at the kennel. Having washed out at the polls and discarded many, many millions of his donors’ dollars last Election Night, Rove should stop his incessant yelping and retire to the doghouse.
According to the Sunlight Foundation’s analysis of independent campaign expenditures, Rove performed pitifully last Nov. 6. Campaign cash “succeeded” when, in Sunlight’s words, it “went to support candidates who won and to oppose candidates who lost in the general election.” Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies succeeded with only 14.4 percent of its spending. Even worse, Rove’s main operation, American Crossroads, was effective with a measly 1.3 percent of its contributors’ money.
And these sums were enormous. Crossroads GPS disbursed nearly $70.6 million, of which only $10.2 million helped defeat opponents. American Crossroads spent $104.7 million, of which just $1.3 million worked. Rove’s efforts jointly burned through $175.3 million, of which a mere $11.5 million paid off. Rove’s combined success rate for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS was an embarrassing 6.58 percent. If Rove were a baseball player, his overall batting average would be .066. For American Crossroads alone, Rove would have batted .013.
Worse still, the Sunlight Foundation reports, while Crossroads GPS helped torpedo seven Democrats, it “supported 0 winning candidates.”
Similarly, American Crossroads sank two Democratic contenders, but “0.00% of money went to supporting winning candidates.”
For all of his bluster and “expertise,” Rove demonstrated last November that he has forgotten whatever he once may have known about winning elections.
Unlike Rove, other center-right groups stewarded their donors’ dollars. Tea party-associated Freedom Works scored with 24.5 percent of its money. Club for Growth nearly doubled that figure at 41.8 percent, while Americans for Tax Reform delivered on 57.4 percent of its patrons’ cash. (Full disclosure: I’ve participated in events sponsored by the Club for Growth.)
Veteran conservative Brent Bozell and 17 other major righties signed an open letter on March 14 to top Crossroads donors. As these signatories explained: “The only Senate Republican winners were Jeff Flake, Deb Fischer and Ted Cruz — all of whom enjoyed significant tea party and conservative support.
Meanwhile, more moderate candidates like Tommy Thompson, Heather Wilson, Rick Berg and Denny Rehberg went down to defeat despite significant support from Crossroads. ... Not one moderate Republican challenger won. According to the Sunlight Foundation, not one Senate challenger supported by Crossroads won.”
In contrast, Freedom Works backed Cruz of Texas, Flake of Arizona and Fischer of Nebraska. Club for Growth financed Cruz and Flake.
If Rove were a staunch conservative with a reverse Midas touch, that would be bad enough. However, Rove is an ￼uber-RINO — Republican in name only — whose free-spending, Bush-era “compassionate conservatism” is largely responsible for the fine mess confronting Republicans and the republic.
Why does a campaign-losing, multimillion-dollar-wasting, big-government liberal have any role on the American right? Karl Rove has inflicted a lifetime’s worth of damage on the GOP, the conservative movement and the USA. It is decades past time to banish this mutt to the backyard with nothing to gnaw on but a bone.