The Right Opinion

Rove vs. the Tea Party

By Ben Shapiro · Feb. 6, 2013

During the 2012 election cycle, Tea Partiers were told by their supposed betters that their ignorance of everyday politics meant that they should take a back seat to the Republican Party establishment. Brandishing the so-called Buckley Rule with quasi-religious fervor – the notion that Republicans should run the most conservative candidate who can win – the establishment GOP proclaimed that the only presidential candidate who could win was Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. They suggested that four-term former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson was a shoe-in for the Senate. They explained that the Tea Party was responsible for failed Senate candidates like Todd Akin (false) and Richard Mourdock (true).

They knew best.

The only trouble was, they didn't.

As it turns out, the Buckley Rule relies on prophecy. No good political strategy relies on Carnac-style crystal ball reading; a better rule would have been to nominate conservatives who are articulate (Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz), regardless of whether the wise men who loved John McCain and Mitt Romney think conservative positions make candidates unelectable.

But despite their 2012 losses, the establishment has decided that the problem in 2012 wasn't their own incompetence – it was the dastardly Tea Party, which in its zealotry for conservatism, has ignored the need for victory.

And so the Karl Rove establishment leaked to the far-left New York Times that the “biggest donors in the Republican Party” were working with the leaders of Rove's American Crossroads super PAC to “recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's effort to win control of the Senate.”

Why didn't Rove and company tell the Times that they were interested in training conservative candidates in media fluency? Why didn't they approach the Tea Party instead, and offer their get-out-the-vote services and electoral strategies?

Because, at root, there is a clash at the heart of today's Republican Party. The Tea Party wants to change tactics. The establishment wants to discard principle.

The question is whether this will be the party of Ronald Reagan or the party of George W. Bush. The establishment opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980; they backed George H.W. Bush, convinced that Reagan was too extreme, not quick enough on his feet, no match for the more intellectual Jimmy Carter. Thank God they lost.

Today, though, the establishment is ascendant. While George W. Bush did a great many good things, including slashing taxes and protecting Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, the second term of George W. Bush looked like a replay of Herbert Hoover's government-growing presidency, replete with concessions on spending and socialistic stimulus programs. The “compassionate conservatism,” which largely identified government spending with compassion, dovetailed into the rise of Barack Obama.

This divide doesn't have to continue. The establishment GOP could seek to rectify the breach with the Tea Party by embracing their enthusiasm for basic conservative principle and offering their expertise – whatever expertise they have – in helping them achieve victory. Instead, they're focusing on the next dollar and the next dinner party.

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13 Comments

rab in jo,mo said:

After the debacle of the 2012 elections, why would anyone listen to what Karl Rove has to say. He is a loser and needs to be put out to pasture.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:21 AM

fred in oregon said:

tape over his mouth would be better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:30 AM

RudyT in Pittsburgh, PA replied:

Tape over his mouth AND nose would suit me fine!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

Rove needs to go away because this thinking will ensure the Democrats controlling the government for many years to come. His PAC should be fighting the liberal media, Odumbo, and the Democrats and not the Tea Party.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:01 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

Carl Rove and a Crossroads, a deal with the Devil!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Kommandant Rove is exactly what is wrong with the Republican Party. Include most of the leadership in the party, Reince Preibus, and the worthless RNC. The only real hope conservatives have in this country is from the Tea Party members. After all, take a look, where has the Republican Party been in the past eight years? Nowhere, in terms of policy. I was overjoyed that Texas elected Ted Cruz. Now we need someone to replace John Cornyn, a member and ranking member of the Republican establishment.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 11:30 AM

KnoxvilleAJ in Knoxville, TN said:

Rove is a Democrat in Republican clothing. You know, that wolf/sheep thing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:02 PM

sfj in Alabama said:

"compassionate conservatism" - what a load of rubbish. It's nothing but progressivism light. All of the welfare/wic/snap/ebt crap should be totally stopped for able-bodied receients. Then, anyone who thinks they need help, must totally re-qualify under new/stricter rules. I'm tired of paying taxes so lay abouts can drink and watch TV all day. If they're healthy they need to get their ass out and work - there is work out there as any illegal mexican can tell you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

sfj, I see am not the only one that wants to puke when some RINO says "compassionate conservative" . It is almost as bad as Bush the Elder's, "new world order".

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 11:46 PM

d.w.hudson in Michigan said:

Conservatives of the Party TEA who refuse to yield principle to RINO Party are the only true leaders who have a chance to turn our nation from certain financial and socialistic doom to a possible return to the true American Constitutional Dream. Freedom.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:24 PM

JTG in Indiana said:

Rove can still be an asset and that includes bundling. Tea Party candidates are the future for the GOP or a third party. It's Rove who needs to adapt and realize that the Dems are the domestic enemy and not the TP.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Capt. Call in New Mexico said:

Karl Rove needs to be "retired" -- by force if necessary. Instead of being a part of the solution, he is part of the problem. So many people have been saying that the Republican Party is far too conservative; that it needs to step into the 21st Century; that it needs to modernize. Such nonsense! The Republican Party needs to move to the right to win. It has to give the people a real choice between 2 opposing views. If the Repubs are no different than the Dems, why would anyone want to change the set-up!

Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 1:50 AM

rab in jo,mo replied:

Agreed, and if you notice, the people saying that the Republican Party is "far too conservative" are primarily liberals, though there are some old-line blue-blood RINOs in that group too.

Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 9:36 AM