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Rove the Conservative


Today’s NRO editorial on Karl Rove says “it is hard to imagine anyone else who could have done better by conservatives in his post.” That’s more true than most conservatives realize, I think, especially social conservatives. In internal disputes on what was generally called in the White House the “culture of life” agenda (which means more than abortion, but the broader set of family and cultural issues), Rove was again and again the voice of the conservative option, with very few exceptions. And my impression, at least, was that he took the positions he did not only because he wanted to satisfy some part of the conservative base, but because he thought they were right.

Rove is generally described as a kind of pure operator, devoid of sentimentality or deep moral wellsprings. But I think he’s actually deeply drawn to people with moral purpose (this is certainly part of the story of his relationship with President Bush), and especially to the idea of standing up for the weak. He’s certainly not a run-of-the-mill social conservative, but his instincts seem to run powerfully in that direction.


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