Karl Rove: Shutdown Could Ruin Obama's Presidency

Image: Karl Rove: Shutdown Could Ruin Obama's Presidency

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 12:00 PM

By Dan Weil

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While poll numbers are worse for Republicans than Democrats over the budget and debt ceiling mess, the conflict could ruin Barack Obama's presidency, says Republican strategist Karl Rove.

"The president is in real difficulty," he writes in The Wall Street Journal. "If Americans believe Washington is a mess, then the unquestionable leader of Washington — the president — suffers along with everyone else."

Indeed, an Associated Press-GfK survey conducted Oct. 3-7 shows Obama with an approval rating of only 37 percent.

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"It is mystifying why Mr. Obama has weakened himself by being so unwilling to negotiate. At a moment when Americans are pining for compromise, the president offers rigid self-righteousness," Rove writes.

"The power of the presidency depends upon supple and subtle leadership. Surely he must know this. Unless the president engages in give-and-take, compromise and consensus-seeking, Washington doesn't work."

Obama's handling of the situation now mirrors his reaction to the release of the Simpson-Bowles commission report on deficit reduction in December 2010, says Rove, who engineered George W. Bush's successful campaigns for the presidency.

"He didn't just fail to act on its blueprint for righting the nation's finances — he acted as if he'd never heard of the commission that he appointed."

"If the president had embraced Simpson-Bowles and worked to pass its recommendations, he would have been handsomely rewarded. Instead he opted for partisan stalemate and acrimony," Rove adds.

The same thing is happening now, he contends. "Had Mr. Obama seized any of the recent openings for deals on the budget and debt ceiling, his numbers would be rising.

"Instead, in a time of divided government, he acts as if he has a supermajority in both chambers. He doesn't — and hence the legislative and executive branches are locked in a political death match," says Rove.

Rove writes that it's difficult to figure out what Obama's motivation is. "It could be fear of criticism from his party's left. It may be that he views himself as an emperor. It may be genuine contempt for his opposition."

Whatever the case, Obama is speeding towards lame-duck status, Rove says, and is "dispiriting the nation and weakening it in the world's eyes."

Urgent: ObamaCare Is About to Strike — Are You Prepared?

"Mr. Obama believed this showdown would break Republicans. What he didn't realize is that by not bending himself, he might break his own presidency."

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