Julian Sanchez has joined the blogosphere's two minutes hate about the Rove legacy, which I have previously noted seems a bit off. The general consensus is that the true evil of Rove was that at a time after 9/11 when the country was more prepared to be united than ever before he squandered the opportunity and resorted to a divisive strategy of politicking, using wedge issues to divide the country and further a politics of demonization.
The opinion is historically blind for one. Lee Atwater did much the same before Rove for Republicans and Reagan and Nixon's "silent majority" campaign was essentially the same. This has always been done and on the Democratic side Dick Morris and James Carville are no less insidious.
Much more the only issue on which the country was prepared to be united was the war in Afghanistan and the further War on Terror. And in this Rove only started to demonize the Democrats when the war in Iraq turned ugly and opposition became a bit more salient. But the so called "wedge issues" existed before Rove's tenure as White House political advisor and they were used as wedges before. They were even used by Rove when he took a lesson straight from Atwater's tactics against Dukakis, and asked the people of South Carolinia their opinion about John McCain's illegitimate black son. Rove was never a visionary made for uniting the public and was always a henchman who aimed to win elections. The issues of gay marriage, religion, abortion, immigration, and race always existed and the arguments of opposing sides on them would never be made more digestible to each other by a terrorist attack. It is rank idealism to think that these issues would fade from significance and that Americans on the reactionary extremes would be able to live with each other peacefully because of a brief bout of communal flag waving.
Moreover it was not incumbent upon Rove to attempt this. He had a job to do and would be in danger of losing it if he performed poorly. In the end he stayed in the White House and left on his own terms. That people who oppose this president think his legacy is evil is something that a person with only a modicum of common sense could easily have predicted.
Rove, says Sanchez, blindly pursued a goal which in the end was petty. Well most of politics is petty and he was political strategist. And in light of the old axiom that "all real politics is local" it was folly to think a terrorist attack would change that. Instead of hating Rove for doing the job he was hired to do, it might be better to stop conceiving of the US population as easily led sheep and blame the people who voted for this disaster of a president, and then try to argue against the prejudices which allow these wedge issues to gain such currency.
Andrew Sullivan notes that Rove threw away the opportunity he had for the sake of short term expediency. Well that is the nature of his job. He worked for the current resident and was in charge of getting him and others elected only in the immediate. He was not a Republican political philosopher in charge of formulating a GOP philosophy of governance.