Oh, sure, blame it on Texas. It’s all our fault Jim Jeffords walked. Many, many people in Washington are assuming "the Texans" in the White House are responsible for this massive screw-up. Whereas everybody in political Austin assumes it. It’s often hard to discern the difference between Texas Tough and Texas Stupid.
Sheesh, you play a little hardball, and the guy quits the party over it? So there was a slight miscalculation. As Lyndon Johnson used to say, in his charming fashion, "You got their peckers in your pocket, their hearts and minds will follow." There was just a tiny error about the localization of Jeffords’s pecker. Texans are also proud that Senator Phil Gramm, so noted for his charm, also played a role in Jeffords’s departure.
Karl Rove, the man known as "Bush’s Brain," would never do anything mean, dirty, petty or tacky. I say this because one of the things I have learned from Rove and Karen Hughes–counselor to His Bushness and also known as Nurse Ratchet–is that if you say something often enough, like "compassionate conservative" or "leave no child behind," the reality makes no difference; people remember only the slogan. (One of the funnier slogans, from Bush’s last run for governor, was "end social promotion." Social promotion is the story of Bush’s life. The Lege just ended ending social promotion–it doesn’t work.) Rove is the master of bait-and-switch politics: Talk moderate, govern right. It took a real moderate like Jeffords to bring this to the media’s attention.
One of the post-switch defenses put out by the White House is that Jeffords left the party over a petty social slight: If it was petty of Jeffords to mind not being invited to the ceremony honoring the Teacher of the Year, how petty was it of the Bushes not to invite him? This kind of circular thinking leads people to conclude the Bushies think their own shit don’t stink.
When Texas sent the nation Billy Bob Forehead for President, we did, in fact, try to warn y’all about Rove. He not only goes after Democrats, his record of attacking Republicans who cross him is equally distinguished. Rumor and slur campaigns are among his favorite methods. He started using dirty tricks when he was with the College Republicans and has since been linked to the rumors that Ann Richards is a lesbian (a perennial for any woman in politics), that John McCain is crazy as a result of his years in prison camp and several other notable doozies. The campaign against McCain in South Carolina during the primaries was a Rove classic. McCain was simultaneously rumored to be gay and a tomcat who cheats on his wife, who in turn was rumored to be a drug addict. The news that McCain has a black daughter (adopted from Bangladesh) was spread judiciously under the radar of the national media. Anonymous leaflets put under the windshield wipers of cars parked at white fundamentalist churches on Sunday are good for this purpose, as are certain radio call-in shows.