So, I've been mulling this issue over for some time, so this post is a little dated. Anyway, Washington, DC recently bid farewell to another scion of spin. I had once been asked why politics in the U.S. was so polarized. At the time, I (naively) said it could be the collapse of the Cold War consensus, or perhaps the fact that, with the proliferation of interactive communications technology, the ability to disseminate and enforce message has increased dramatically. That has led to a hardening of political identities, as pundits have been quick (kind of) in using the new media. And of course, there's Penny Arcade's take.
But now I understand the error of my ways. It's not some grand sociological or demographic shift. It comes down purely to the country-dividing and, indeed, soul-corrupting anti-Christ that is Karl Rove. And I must admit that the slew of biographies that have recently emerged have been a fascinating look into his personality, particularly this piece in the Atlantic. The explicitly divisive nature of his politics and strategy, and the impact that has had on the country, is astounding.
All of which makes me wonder why really hard-core conservative Republicans feel that it's the Democrats who are splitting the nation. And not just in hallmark issues like Iraq. No, I'm (or actually, they are) talking about No Child Left Behind and tax cuts. Those bills were pretty much steamrolled over any opposition or, really, meaningful discussion and debate, and it's astounding to me that they feel that there is no room to compromise or just talk things over.
While obviously partisanship has long predated Rove, I think what gets to me is not that the level of partisanship, but the nature this time around. This administration has a curious unwillingness to face the realities of their policies and politics more generally, and it's amazing that they can keep claiming victory when all the signs point to...well, not victory at least. And for that, we can thank Rove, who has been a master of tactical political surprise, even as he leads the nation and the President down to partisan hell. And it's that inability to admit mistakes which, I think, fuels this feeling among the conservative base that it's everyone else's fault. Which is surprising since so many Republicans talk about personal values, responsibility, and owning up to your faults.
Anyway, I really, REALLY want to be able to blame everything on Rove. But that would be wrong. Well, inaccurate more than wrong. It's not completely his fault, but I am not sad to see him go.