Monday, January 20, 2003

Gritting My Teeth Even As I Write This

Newspapers famously bury their mistakes. The most famous one, in the New York Times, involved them dismissing Dr. Robert H. Goddard's 1920's paper in which he first proposed the means by which man might fly to the Moon. The Times sniffed that science clearly showed he was wrong. They didn't retract their error until three days before Man landed on the Moon.

Now, here in the blogosphere, things are different. It's a tradition, and a badge of honor of sorts, that we bloggers admit to our mistakes front and center. Here's one of mine.

Back during the campaign for the 2002 mid-term elections I pooh-poohed Karl Rove, White House advisor, on his strategy of selecting the more centrist/moderate candidate over the more grass-roots popular, and more conservative, candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races around the nation. Most especially, I derided him for supporting California's Richard Riordan over Bill Simon.

Well, history has shown how spectacularly correct Rove was. He helped to engineer and pull off an upset that may turn out to be a watershed of the proportions of the 1994 Republican "Contract With America" sweep.

Had California Republicans gone with Riordan, would they have won? It seems likely now. Grey Davis was literally begging for someone to knock him off. His administration was rife with incompetence and malfeasance. Simon turned out to have too many scandals in his business past that compromised his business credentials. It ruined his main selling point and ruined him. Simon ended up running on "I'm not Davis" and that wasn't enough.

It seems fair to say, in retrospect, that Riordan wouldn't have had that problem; plus he was a known property. That would have made it easier for a crucial few thousand voters to switch to him, giving him the Governorship. We don't know, unless he runs in 2006, if Riordan has skeletons of his own. He might.

Riordan's more moderate views would have pissed off the activist conservative base, as Alexander did in Tennessee, but it would have enabled him to take office and set the stage for more conservative candidates in the future.

So, yeah. Rove was right and I was wrong. Just don't do any happy dances on my funeral pyre. OK?

No comments: