Roving Critic
It has been fascinating to watch Karl Rove emerge from behind the bureaucratic curtain of the Bush Administration, especially since he joined Fox News as a political analyst in February. It certainly feels like we’ve heard more opinion from him in these past few months, than during his previous seven years in the Bush Administration. While Rove has often been described as the chief strategist behind Bush’s electoral success, he typically maintained a low media profile while serving as senior adviser and deputy chief of staff in the White House. Perhaps even more interesting to watch has been Rove’s evolving relationship with the McCain campaign. While he downplays any connection, some reports suggest that Rove is playing an informal advisory role with the campaign.
In a post a few weeks ago, I noted the gradual emergence of a conservative cultural critique of Barack Obama’s patriotism, and speculated about who would be most likely to level this kind of attack against him in the general election. Well, if you read Rove’s scathing Op-Ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what I had in mind. Rove hits a veritable trifecta of cultural reference points, including mentions of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, flag pins, and presidential visits with dictators. Any obvious ties between Rove and the McCain campaign could be problematic, given McCain's need to distance himself from the Bush Administration. But this kind of freelancing by Rove and other Bush associates could be a potent weapon in the ideological battle to be waged over the next six months, if conducted at arm’s length from the McCain campaign.

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