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How To Read Karl Rove

Karl Rove's Wall Street Journal column is always a fascinating and informative read. You just have to read it the right way. Obviously, if read at face value, it's simply very crude propaganda. But reading between the lines, you can glean what Rove actually believes. And given that he's a powerful Republican who's privy to internal deliberations, he has a lot of information to inadvertently signal. I'm a devoted reader.

The subject of today's column is Rove's misgivings that Republican governors, seeing the massive political damage sustained by Scott Walker in his attempt to bust the public employee unions, are taking a less confrontational approach. His way of expressing this fear is to insist that other Republicans are taking a more aggressive approach than Walker, and that Walker in fact has become more popular:

For weeks, the nation's attention has been drawn to the storm in Madison over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit the power of government unions. Yet 500 miles to the southeast, in Columbus, Ohio, Gov. John Kasich is on the verge of passing a more extensive reform. ..
Scott Walker didn't expect this fight, but he is winning it. He absorbed body blows in the process, as strong and effective leaders do. The lasting damage has not been done to Mr. Walker but to the labor movement, whose desperation grows as its power, numbers and reputation wane.

Obviously this is all completely false. Kasich's proposal is less controversial precisely because, unlike Walker's, it is not an attempt to destroy the public employee union as an economic and political force. Walker's position, and Walker personally, have grown enormously unpopular very quickly. Rove surely realizes this. The interesting takeaway from his column is that he believes these things have discouraged Republican elected officials from following Walker's lead.