SIEGEL: We're in the home stretch, though, and many would consider you on the optimistic end of realism about -
ROVE: Not that you would be exhibiting a bias ...
SIEGEL: I'm looking at all the same polls that you're looking at every day.
ROVE: No, you're not. No, you're not.
SIEGEL: No, I'm not.
ROVE: No, you're not. You're not. I'm looking at 68 polls a week. You may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally but that do not impact the outcome of -
SIEGEL: I'm looking at main races between - certainly Senate races.
ROVE: Well, like the poll today showing that Corker's ahead in Tennessee, or the poll showing that Allen is pulling away in the Virginia Senate race.
SIEGEL: Leading Webb in Virginia, yeah.
Mr. ROVE: Exactly.
SIEGEL: But you've seen the DeWine race and the Santorum race - I don't want to have you call races.
ROVE: Yeah, I'm looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math, I'm entitled to THE math.
SIEGEL: Well, I don't know if we're entitled to our different math, but you're certainly -
ROVE: I said THE math. I said you're entitled to yours.
Besides being a discourteous and belligerent interviewee, Rove is also clearly just deluded. It's clear that Bush really does need to surround himself with new eyes all around, and I bet he realizes it. In his Wednesday presser, Bush took a slight dig at Rove by saying that he [Bush] had worked harder on the campaign than Rove had. And in announcing Rumsfeld's retirement, Bush even used the phrase "new eyes" in explaining the need for turnover. His team had just lost complete touch with reality. Here's a fascinating tidbit from Josh Feit of The Stranger:
Well, I’m going to get a little cagey here, but bear with me:
I ran into a high-profile member of the local Republican party last night, and they made it clear that indeed, Rove was totally delusional about the elections. This source is close to another high-profile Republican who now works as a GOP lobbyist in DC. This GOP lobbyist is pals with Rove.
Well, my source was talking to this lobbyist on the night before the election and said: “Man, I’ve been out doorbelling, and we’re going to get crushed.” The lobbyist, stunned, replied, “No. The polls are wrong. Don’t believe the liberal media reports. Karl is looking at the real numbers and we’re going to win.” My GOP informant replied: “No. Listen, I was out doorbelling, and when I told people I was a Republican they slammed the door in my face.” His comrade replied: “No. No. Karl’s on top of this. We’re going to win.”
My source then chastised his colleague for being lost in the D.C. loop and not understanding what was happening on the ground.
There was a story in the MSM about a week before the election, of John Boehner going to the White House and basically saying "Oh man, we're gonna get creamed," and Bush got very agitated and summoned Rove in, and Rove produced all these charts and figures explaining why they were going to win. Boehner's curt response was something like "mm-hmm, thanks." He at least had a hold on reality still.
I think that Bush's team being so wrong, especially Rumsfeld and Rove, can have some positive consequences for the president's lame-duck years. If he's willing to clean house and surround himself with new eyes and new ideas, and work constructively with the Democratic congress, we could have a couple of interesting and productive years in terms of immigration reform, minimum wage laws and other initiatives that have been unpopular with his core constituency. He doesn't have anything to prove anymore and no longer needs to cater wholly to the religious right, so there could be some interesting changes. Perhaps I'm being overly-optimistic, but I do detect that Bush is very disappointed with the people he's surrounded himself with. He's even said "I'm open to new ideas on Iraq"! Clearly something is changing, for him to open himself up like that. Foremost on his mind now will be a better legacy than his awful first six years have bequeathed him, and perhaps he will move to the centre in order to construct something long-lasting and positive.