For the longest time, Gingrich was not really a factor in this race, he was left for dead at the checkout counter at Tiffany's.~ DAVID AXELRODIt is tempting to argue that the ongoing cage match between Karl Rove and the men who would deny him a Mitt Romney nomination is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Tempting but demonstrably false because the party lost its soul years ago and the man most responsible is Rove himself.
Rove, who is a terrific tactician but a lousy strategist, launched the GOP on a course of short-term gains at the expense of long-term viability when he engineered the nomination of George W. Bush, an empty vessel into which Dick Cheney and the neo-con brain trust poured their ideas. Ideas like going to war in Iraq while engineering massive tax cuts for the wealthy and shredding the social safety net.
With Rove continuing to be the man behind the curtain, Bush was re-elected in 2004 by making promises to the party's burgeoning Christianist wing that he could not keep and because the Democrats nominated a weakling in John Kerry, who ran a campaign so awful that the attacks on him by Bush-Rove surrogates weren't even really necessary.
In 2006 Rove, was still the GOP's mastermind as it tacked harder to the right, and it is likely that when he awoke on the morning after a Democratic mid-term sweep -- a sweep so complete that no congressional or gubernatorial seat held by a Democrat was won by a Republican and six Senate incumbents were ousted -- he may have had the first inkling that he was losing control of the party.
The 2008 presidential election would not have been a Republican win no matter who the Democratic candidate was. In fact, either John Edwards or Hillary Clinton would have beaten John McCain by a more sizable margin than did Barack Obama, but that reality does not obscure the fact the party was tacking harder still to the right and its whackadoodle ideas as epitomized by the selection of the vacuous Sarah Palin.
By 2010 Rove had, for all intents and purposes, lost control of the party as a Christianist-Tea Party jihad engineered sizable House gains which it, but surely not Rove, took as a mandate for their ideas and not what they really were -- the result of an anger against the Washington establishment fueled by the lingering effects of a recession engineered by Rove's prodigal child.
And so Rove is now reaping what he sewed -- a GOP openly hostile to blacks and immigrants (something that he has repeatedly warned that the party will rue) and the middle class and poor -- that has become whiter, older and crankier, a reality reflected in a field of presidential wannabes who are short on ability and long on wacky ideas.
The former mastermind is well aware that only Romney stands a snowball's chance in hell against an incumbent president who has governed with twin albatrosses around his neck -- the hangover from the recession and Republican congressfolk so obdurate that they are willing to let Americans to continue to suffer rather than hand Obama a victory - but has not-bad approval ratings.
But Romney, like Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain before him, is in free fall and it is possible that he will go into the all-important Iowa caucuses in third place behind a surging Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Rove had been working behind the scenes to grease the skids for a Romney nomination, but Romney's free fall and the unholy alliance of Trump, a horse's ass of the first water, and Gingrich, would be sitting duck for Obama, has compelled him to grab the Fox News megaphone to attack the host of the next Republican debate and his new pal, the ultimate Washington insider and only House speaker in history to be disciplined (with his own party in the majority) for multiple ethical breeches.
While the Democrats in general and Obama in particular have their own problems, today's Republican Party is an extraordinary mess. It is not only possible but likely that it will blow an opportunity to take back the White House, and one need to look no further than the man whom Dubya fondly called Turdblossom to understand why.