Friday, August 17, 2007


A lot of people are addressing the main points in Michael Gerson's Washington Post op-ed today, in which he praises and defends Karl Rove. I just want to mention one point that's not unique to Gerson -- it's actually conventional wisdom:

[Rove's] background in direct mail, along with the experience he gained while converting Lyndon Johnson's Texas into a Republican stronghold, has given him a comprehensive understanding of the technologies and trends of politics.

I see this all the time: Rove made Texas Republican! What an amazing accomplishment! But why is this a big deal? The whole damn South went from Democratic to Republican at precisely the same time. What did SuperRove accomplish in Texas that wasn't also accomplished by mere mortals in the rest of the region?

And to what extent was the job already done before Rove even had any impact? Look at the presidential vote in Texas in 1972, when Rove was still in the College Republicans: Nixon beat McGovern in the Lone Star State by a two-to-one margin. Yes, Nixon blew McGovern away nationwide, but his margin of victory in Texas was 5 points greater than in the country as a whole. How is that a sign that turning Texas Republican was a herculean task that required a giant such as Rove?

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