The Democrats' resounding midterm election triumph—sweeping both houses of Congress, as well as a majority of state legislatures and governorships—immediately bred suspicion among party leadership that Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser and the political mastermind behind Bush's rise to power, was once again pulling the strings.
"Let's not celebrate just yet," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said on Nov. 8, shortly after the more closely contested seats were declared in the Democrats' favor. "This decisive Democratic victory could very well be part of an unfathomably brilliant plan of Karl Rove's to position the Republicans for the 2016 elections, and probably beyond. History has shown that the man is an unstoppable evil genius. You can't underestimate him."
Rove, who has consistently proven himself over the last 12 years to be the only person in Washington capable of affecting national elections, refused to comment.
"We were blindsided when he gave us the House, but then Rove really twisted the knife with the Senate victory," CNN's Paul Begala said. "Evidently, he must be five or six steps ahead on the chessboard, executing a strategy we can only guess at."
Political watchdog groups said that Rove left too many obvious clues. They pointed to the breaking of the Mark Foley sex scandal, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, the political downfall of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the refusal of embattled Speaker Of The House Dennis Hastert and Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to step down, and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq since the 2004 presidential election. Even the escalating civil insurrection in Iraq "sports the trademark Rove touch," in the words of one blogger for the political website The Huffington Post.
"For a little while there, it looked like Rove's nefarious master plan might be undone by Kerry's bungled remarks about the troops, but it succeeded anyway," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said. "Unless, of course, Kerry's remarks were all part of the plan, too."
Still others have posited a second Rove involvement theory, in which they believe he predicted a Republican victory two weeks' prior to Election Day so he could bet heavily on a Democratic victory and make "an enormous killing in Vegas." They speculate Rove then either kept the winnings for himself or funneled them into a GOP slush fund.
Rove did not return calls concerning these charges.
"Can't people see we're playing right into this man's hands?" Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) said. "The fact that he did not address this issue publicly proves his collusion. Leave it to Rove to poison a victory this sweet."