November 29, 2004


BUSH GURU GETS WORLD'S WORST JOB (Paul Gilfeather, Nov 28 2004, Sunday Mirror)

FALTERING Tory leader Michael Howard has been thrown a political life-line - from the mastermind behind George Bush's victory in the US election.

The shock signing of Karl Rove is all the more amazing as President Bush's right-hand man banned Mr Howard from the White House just three months ago.

The highly-rated strategist discussed the Opposition leader's fading General Election hopes in a trans- atlantic phone call this week.

And during his talks with party chairman Liam Fox he agreed to bury differences over the Iraq war and draw up Mr Howard's masterplan for the May poll.

The development will stun Tony Blair, who is certain to feel betrayed.

The PM effectively backed the Bush re-election drive by refusing to publicly endorse Democrat challenger and Labour ally John Kerry.

Last night Government insiders predicted the move would put the PM's "special relationship" with the President under massive pressure.

Tories need to copy the Republicans, says Duncan Smith (Colin Brown, 29 November 2004, Independent)
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, says his successor, Michael Howard, should mirror George Bush's approach to the US presidential campaign by focusing on traditional Conservative values.

The former leader, a friend of the Bush family, reveals in an interview for The Independent today that he is to publish a pamphlet on the lessons that the Tories can learn from the successes of Mr Bush and John Howard in Australia.

He will urge the Tory leaders to focus on 'compassionate conservatism'. He said the key lesson from the US presidential elections and the Australian elections for Mr Howard was to "be true to yourself, be true to your values."

His remarks will dismay Tory modernisers who fear Mr Howard will be tempted to swing further to the right on immigration, law and order, and social issues, to try to close the gap with Labour before the general election.

Tory modernisers? Are they like conservative Democrats?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2004 12:00 AM

What does this do to the Bush-Blair relationship? Is Bush solid enough that he can tick Blair off and push England more toward the EU?

Posted by: AWW at November 29, 2004 12:31 AM

It withstood Blair sucking up to Kerry in October. The EU isn't a threat to us but to the British party foolish enough to join.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 12:40 AM

Rove in Howard's camp?

Blimey. Hold yer nose 'n vote for Tony....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 29, 2004 12:57 AM

The Mirror is a very anti-Bush tabloid, and would love to sow dissention between Bush and Blair. I'd wait for confirmation elsewhere before concluding anything.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 29, 2004 12:57 AM

"The PM effectively backed the Bush re-election drive" ??

While Blair might have hoped that Bush would win, how would his endorsement have helped either candidate ?

It's kinda like being endorsed by Madonna: Nice, but irrelevant.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 29, 2004 4:57 AM

Papaya is correct that the article was in the Mirror so it is of extremely dubious veracity. Is Rove going to be working with the space aliens in Howard's camp or is he replacing them?

OTOH, if true, more than anything else it reveals the depth of Blair's trouble in his own party. Bush may have inside dope indicating that his own party will vote Blair out of office so there is no reason not to jump ship.

Posted by: Bart at November 29, 2004 5:21 AM

Bad move if true.

A deal is a deal, and therefore Bush must stick with Blair, unless Blair shafts him in some significant way.


I don't care about any endorsement during the election, but the sending of troops to Iraq and supporting Bush in the spring of 2003. Blair didn't have to do that.

Isn't the EU, a done deal anyway. Not that it will last forever or anything.

Posted by: h-man at November 29, 2004 6:02 AM

The Mirror has zero credibility.

The Sunday Mirror is even worse.

They probably made this up in order to fill a few inches.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 29, 2004 7:15 AM

Karl Rove is a Senior Adviser to the President with an office in the White House. He is not getting involved in foreign political campaigns, particularly for the opposition.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 7:35 AM

The suggestion is that he'll identify the issues that Howard should run on, not manage day to day operations.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 8:35 AM

I'm not so much saying that he doesn't have the time as that it's probably illegal, is a slap in the face to Blair and is completely contrary to Rove and the President's long memory and political philosophy. I believe this as much as I believed that Blair was rooting for Kerry. If there is a kernal of truth here, I'd guess that it is the news posted earlier in the month that the Republican Party/Bush campaign has provided the Tories with some of its GOTV program.

Also, wouldn't Rove's involvement by itself cost the Tories more votes than he could possibly deliver?

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 8:59 AM

Politics ain't beanbag--the President didn't pitch a hissy when Mr. Blair started cozying up to John Kerry:

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 9:08 AM

Maybe next time Tony won't tell his friends "privately" that he hopes Kerry wins and will tell his wife that she isn't the co-PM, so she would do well to keep her opinions private too.

Posted by: erp at November 29, 2004 9:50 AM

What interest of the US is served by having a Tory prime minister rather than Blair? Is there any chance that even Rove could drag Howard over the finish line? Why wouldn't the President want to punish Howard for his public embrace of Kerry? And, I still think it's probably illegal for a government employee to advise a foreign political campaign.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 10:04 AM

If Karl Rove would talk to Mr Howard, this is what he'd say (Matthew d'Ancona,, 11/7/04)

For the Conservative Party, the Republicans' historic victory and the scale of Mr Bush's mandate is more unsettling. The rift between Michael Howard and the White House has yet to be healed: indeed, in his interview with Dominic Lawson today, the Tory leader rather pointedly declines to express pleasure at Mr Bush's victory. But it is at a deeper level that the US election result is troubling senior Tories. Yesterday, Mr Howard marked his first anniversary as party leader, and his tribe has been in contemplative mood, pleased with the progress it has made as a political organisation, but puzzled by its failure to dent Labour's opinion poll lead. The awesome success of the President and his chief strategist, Karl Rove, has made the Tories all the more pensive. If conservatives can sweep all before them in America, why are they not doing so here?

To some extent, the question reflects a false premise. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge argue in their magnificent exploration of US conservatism, The Right Nation: "If you were to install Karl Rove in the Conservative Party's headquarters in London and tell him to re-create an American-style conservative movement, he would not know where to begin." There is, for a start, no conservative infrastructure of politicised churches, wealthy think tanks and Right-wing talk radio in this country. Nor is there a rugged tradition of God-fearing individualism, in which love of nation is matched only by disdain for big government. Micklethwait and Wooldridge aptly describe Margaret Thatcher as "an aberration - an American conservative who happened to be born in Grantham rather than Houston".
Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 10:13 AM

If Britain doesn't remoralize and forget about the EU it will go down the drain with the continent.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 10:49 AM

Absolutely. That's why we need Blair. Only Blair can go to Rome.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 10:52 AM

Mr. Blair, for all his excellent qualities, believes more in transnationalism than Brtain can survive.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 10:58 AM

Nothing wrong with transnationalism, so long as you pick the right nation to trans. Blair, for now, is trying to bridge the unbridgable. He had better choose soon. But the Tories have already chosen, and chosen wrong.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 11:08 AM

Is that the "May poll" or the May pole he's helping Howard to prepare for?

Posted by: genecis at November 29, 2004 11:29 AM


But they're totally unprincipled--harness the party to anti-European and anti-immigrant working class voters and you could save the nation.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 11:35 AM

How can a totally unprincipled party lead the remoralization of a country?

I would think they need at least a principled leader -- a Blair or Thatcher.

Posted by: pj at November 29, 2004 2:35 PM

They have no principled parties anymore.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 3:03 PM

Being sincere is everything in life. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

The Tories can't fake it.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 4:38 PM


Your post should be displayed in flashing neon lights over the Clinton Museum.

Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2004 5:58 AM