On September 3, 2004, I began my career in public political analysis by launching Kerry's Karl Rove. Despite my hard work, and what I believe were the insights required to change the outcome of the race, John Kerry lost the election.
After the Kerry loss, the Democratic party felt hollow -- lacking in any unifying vision that could gain mass appeal, and, importantly, lacking the communications and marketing savvy that we saw displayed by a Rove-powered White House. I felt the need to continue to serve, so I transformed Kerry's Karl Rove into Our Karl Rove. It was at Our Karl Rove where I felt a binding synergy with the needs of the flailing Democratic party, which enabled me to propose innovative solutions to many of the Democrats' most pressing political problems.
- As the Democrats were licking their wounds from the 2004 loss, I chided them for becoming poor-performing chameleons. Thankfully, they quickly stopped pandering to the evangelicals.
- Soon after, I pivoted to advising "the next guy" (i.e., the 2008 Democratic nominee), and recommended a paradigm shift. My thinking was that a new paradigm would inspire and unite, where policies and plans bore and divide.
- I then offered a drill-down into core Democratic principles from which the future nominee could craft messages that resonated to a broad coalition of voters.
- I offered an innovative approach to creating some political power as a minority party.
- In Rovian style, I suggested that Democrats not expend political capital on the nomination of Justice John Roberts.
- Continuing in cutting Rove-like political style (but adding a dash of snide humor), I suggested that nutjobs like Rick Santorum be interviewed more often, by more people so that he would lose his re-election bid. Through this post, I introduced a new Luntzian term for Democrats to use against cultural conservatives: cultural socialists.
- Portending the Obama movement, I argued that the party needed to expand beyond "anti-Iraq War" and to a party dedicated to getting things back on track.
- I immediately worked to strategically conflate the Katrina fiasco with the Iraq War fiasco by creating a "twin gulf" linkage.
- In a seminal post, I outlined the concept of "American Values" that Democrats could adopt as a platform to encompass a larger voter constituency. Turns out that Barack Obama was thinking along the same lines (or read it right here) because he adopted this concept during the primary season.
- During the 2006 mid-term elections, I provided a lot of strategic Democratic brand advice to help Democrats win the Congress back. This advice was deemed so valuable that many congressional campaigns reached out to OKR for targeted campaign strategy advice. OKR provided this advice free of charge to any campaign that requested it.
- In 2007, Karl Rove resigned, but Our Karl Rove remained on assignment.
- In an effort provide Demorats with a credible perspective in the area of foreign policy, I advocated that Democrats appoint Pakistan as the larger threat to American security.
- This post on the Democrat's feeble message strategy of "The Common Good" became part of the noise that helped sideline this poorly-designed umbrella philosophy.
With the Democrat's prospects looking bright, OKR had some fun -- and worked to help all Democratic candidates equally -- during the 2008 campaign:
- My analysis of the Republicans provided some insights as to why the Democrats were ahead of the game, independent of Bush's popularity. And in one of my more popular perspectives, I suggested why Barack Obama would win the nomination due to his choice of pronouns.
- At the height of the Democratic nomination fight between Hillary and Obama, I offered a systems-thinking perspective to help calm down the fiery Democratic electorate that had started to go to war with itself.
- Within moments of Obama's announcement of picking Joe Biden as his Vice President nominee, I posted a congratulations and instantly framed why Biden was a fantastic pick that would do far more to help the campaign than hurt it.
- I indulged myself (and my readers) by having some fun with the Palin Pick.
- When McCain suspended his campaign, I proposed making it a test of his leadership skills (or lack thereof) and framed it as a nail in the coffin for McCain's bid for President.
- As we entered the finish line of the 2008 campaign, I offered Obama/Biden the "final frame" that would thrust the ticket over the finish line. It was so good, Barack Obama immediately adopted this very frame in his closing sentence in the final debate.
Blogging as Our Karl Rove has been quite a rewarding experience, and has gotten me closer to political strategy and messaging than I ever would have imagined: Thousands of readers visited every month, I received a steady stream of kudos and attention from many in the blogosphere (which I deeply appreciate), and used my talking points and even reach out to me directly for advice (which was rewarding).
It's been a great run, and while there is certainly much more work to do to make progressive values mainstream in this country, Barack Obama has proven to have the gift of leadership and communication that I was trying to fill from the sidelines with this blog.
So, I am pleased to announce that, coinciding with the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America, I have decided to retire Our Karl Rove. [*Update: while the blog has been retired, Our Karl Rove has been revived on Twitter! OKR tweets are posted on the homepage of this blog, and are available here or here.]
What was learned and honed here will not retire, however. I will keep this blog on-line as a resource for other strategists and communicators to mine. In addition, I plan on using what I've learned and developed here to power my broader political analysis and punditry over at my new blog, Between the Columns. At BTC, I will be blogging as myself, not as the character "Our Karl Rove." As a result, there will be a difference in style, content and approach. But in this era of Obama, it feels like the right shift in strategy and tone. I welcome you to visit Between the Columns, and subscribe if you like what you see.
I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has been a subscriber, contributor or mere passerby of Our Karl Rove over the past four years. Please feel free to use the comments section below to share your parting thoughts, as this post will likely be the homepage of OKR for quite some time.