>Bush’s former “Boy Wonder” weighs in

>It looks like Bush’s personal miracle worker and former senior adviser has thrown his $.02 about a prominent presidential candidate.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Karl Rove gave four reasons why Sen. Clinton won the New Hampshire primary and, in the same breath, criticized Sen. Obama for his “lazy” campaign tactics:

Rove said:

Mrs. Clinton won a narrow victory in New Hampshire for four reasons. First, her campaign made a smart decision at its start to target women Democrats, especially single women. It has been made part of the warp and woof of her campaign everywhere. This focus didn’t pay off in Iowa, but it did in New Hampshire.

Second, she had two powerful personal moments. The first came in the ABC debate on Saturday, when WMUR TV’s Scott Spradling asked why voters were “hesitating on the likeability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more.” Mrs. Clinton’s self-deprecating response — “Well, that hurts my feelings” — was followed by a playful “But I’ll try to go on.”

Third, the Clintons began — at first not very artfully — to raise questions about the fitness for the Oval Office of a first-term senator with no real accomplishments or experience.

Former President Bill Clinton hit a nerve by drawing attention to Mr. Obama’s conflicting statements on Iraq. There’s more — and more powerful — material available. Mr. Obama has failed to rise to leadership on a single major issue in the Senate. In the Illinois legislature, he had a habit of ducking major issues, voting “present” on bills important to many Democratic interest groups, like abortion-rights and gun-control advocates. He is often lazy, given to misstatements and exaggerations and, when he doesn’t know the answer, too ready to try to bluff his way through.

For someone who talks about a new, positive style of politics and pledges to be true to his word, Mr. Obama too often practices the old style of politics, saying one thing and doing another. He won’t escape criticism on all this easily. But the messenger and the message need to be better before the Clintons can get all this across. Hitting Mr. Obama on his elementary school essays won’t cut it.

The fourth and biggest reason why Mrs. Clinton won two nights ago is that, while Mr. Obama can draw on the deep doubts of many Democrats about Mrs. Clinton, he can’t close out the argument. Mr. Obama is an inspiring figure playing a historical role, but that’s not enough to push aside the former First Lady and senator from New York. She’s an historic figure, too. When it comes to making the case against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama comes across as a vitamin-starved Adlai Stevenson. His rhetoric, while eloquent and moving at times, has been too often light as air.

Rove didn’t stop there:

But rather than sharpen and build on this message of contrast and change, Mr. Obama chose soaring rhetoric and inspirational rallies. While his speeches galvanized true believers at his events, his words were neither filling nor sustaining for New Hampshire Democrats concerned about the Clintons and looking for a substantive alternative.

And Mr. Obama, in his own way, is often as calculating as Mrs. Clinton. For example, he was the only candidate, Democratic or Republican, to use a teleprompter to deliver his Iowa and New Hampshire election-night speeches. It gave his speeches a quality and clarity that other candidates, speaking from notes or the heart, failed to achieve. But what he gained in polish, he lost in connection.

I can’t help but to point out the irony of this op-ed. This criticism is coming from someone who’s embedded in the Valerie Plame controversy and who banked on social conservatives to keep the Republicans in charge of Congress in 2006. We all know what happened in these two instances: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby eventually took the fall (even though Rove is still considered as having a larger role than he led on) and the Democrats took back Congress, with the leadership of California Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

It’s obvious how I feel about all this. Maybe Rove has a good heart. Maybe he doesn’t want to see wasted talent. Maybe he doesn’t want to see a “clean,” good-looking, representative of the “new” African-American male politician get defeated by the old stalwarts of the Democratic Party.

What do you think of Rove’s analysis?