WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Karl Rove is a mild-mannered, studious fellow, well read, perfectly polite, very intelligent -- though without the hauteur that often goes with that debility. He beams benignity. Thus it amuses me to see him made out to be the monster of Democratic nightmares. And it amuses me again to envisage him, seated in his White House office, as another report of Democratic dudgeon arrives at his desk provoked by some perfectly unexceptional decision by his boss.
What was Rove's response when he heard that the Democrats were charging him and the president with unconscionable intrigue for scheduling the State of the Union speech the night after the Iowa caucuses? Did the mild-mannered Rove laugh? Did he wince? Did he turn to the sports page? The Democrats made the scheduling out to be darkest Machiavellianism. It was a news story for at least two days, which, in modern America, is an epoch.
Who would have thought such indignation could be mustered by the Democrats over such mundane business? And days before the State of the Union, Rove's suave and amiable boss ventured forth to lay a wreath in homage to Martin Luther King. What did Rove think when that, too, caused outrage amongst Democrats, particularly Democrats of the African-American variety. Or how about the Democrats' reaction to the economy? After a series of tax cuts the president has the economy percolating at a vigorous rate. Growth was 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2003. What is the Democrats' response to that? Do they quietly pass on to some other more sustainable grievance, say, in this frigid winter their hysteria over "global warming"?
No, they erupt in their trademark reaction, anger. They claim that during the recession (a recession that began under their last Democratic president and was, under this Republican president, shallow and brief) millions of jobs were lost. Well, when have jobs not been lost in a recession? Job expansion is always the last phase in an economic recovery.
Or consider what has become a popular Democratic response to the moderation of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi in the aftermath of our liberation of Iraq. Again one might expect the Democrats to avert their gaze from this obvious Bush triumph. Instead, the Democrats roar that the Libyan demarche was long in the works.