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Because Conservatism Can’t Fail, You Can Only Fail Conservatism

2d949561-aa82-4c7e-87a5-b643b97d9b97-big.jpgAmidst the tears, Rove’s “boy genius” legacy is already being re-written by the right:

“Yes, Karl Rove was a political genius—he was, after all, the successful architect of Bush’s election in 2000 and reelection in 2004. But as the President’s chief policy advisor, Rove was the architect of George W. Bush’s betrayal of the conservative cause.” — Richard Viguerie

“Rove will be remembered for his political skills, which helped Republicans stage a resurgence in the early 2000s, only to lose a grip on Washington last year. Rove always had his hand in everything, and if I fault him for one thing, it’s straying from conservative principles.” — Robert Bluey

And Michelle Malkin remembers “the illegal alien shamnesty, which will be the everlasting stain Rove leaves behind.” This seems to be the big wingnut gripe, that Rove kept them from purging the brown menace from the domestic shores because he knew how badly “the math” looked for the GOP if it failed to somehow draw a growing Hispanic population into the party. As Tom Schaller said:

Why have Republicans found themselves on the point of this wedge? Because in the two decades since the last major immigration measure, the makeup of the national Republican Party and the demography of the country have both changed dramatically. In 1986, radio talkers like Limbaugh could not harness the power of millions of devoted daily listeners to bring national Republican political figures to heel, and the Hispanic vote share was negligible. Twenty years later, Limbaugh is the most popular talk radio host in America, and there are millions of Spanish-speaking immigrants living alongside Rush’s listeners in the kinds of red states where Spanish was rarely heard before. At the same time, the Latino vote has grown to 10 million. The GOP is now forced to choose between its reliable base of close-the-border, English-only cultural whites and the rapidly growing bloc of swing-voting Hispanics.

The demographic winds explain why Karl Rove has been obsessed with corralling the Hispanic vote since he was the little-known sidekick of a would-be Texas governor. He made George Bush a uniquely successful candidate among Latino voters in both state and federal elections by embracing Hispanic culture and avoiding any whiff of anti-immigrant rhetoric. After Bush won a startling 40 percent of the Hispanic votes in 2004, double the GOP total from a decade earlier, the Democrats rightly panicked. The conventional wisdom among pollsters like Republican Matt Dowd — a former Democrat who admits he was attracted to Bush precisely because of the then-Texas governor’s views about Hispanic assimilation — was that if Republicans could reach 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, they would be unbeatable, but if they sank below 30 percent, they would be in a world of electoral trouble. Sure enough, after many 2006 Republican congressional candidates ran nasty, anti-immigrant ads — some juxtaposing the faces of Hispanic immigrants with Islamic terrorists — the GOP share of the Hispanic vote collapsed to 29 percent in the midterm cycle. “The Republicans have to choose if they want to be a 21st-century party, and right now they are making decisions like they’re a 20th-century party,” says the New Democrat Network’s Rosenberg.

Bush’s poll numbers take a hit among the lizard brains every time immigration cycles into the news, but it looks like many of the GOP 08s think the best way to rally the base is to appeal to its urge to purge. In the wake of the Bush Administration’s new regulatory assault on immigrants last Friday, it looks like Turdblossom’s grand architecture for a permament Republican majority that includes Hispanic voters may exeunt the stage along with him.

Wingnuttia applauds.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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