Get past that condescending headline portraying Republicans as faithful followers of charistmatic operatives and you read that "Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, is struggling to steer the Republican Party to victory this fall at a time when he appears to have the least political authority since he came to Washington, party officials said.
"Mr. Rove remains a dominant adviser to President Bush, administration officials say. But outside the White House, as Mr. Bush's popularity has waned, and as questions have arisen among Republicans about the White House's political acumen, the party's candidates are going their own way in this difficult election season far more than they have in any other campaign Mr. Rove has overseen.
"Some are disregarding Mr. Rove's advice, despite his reputation as the nation's premier strategist. They are criticizing Mr. Bush or his policies. They are avoiding public events with the president and Mr. Rove."
But watch out, Democrats, and be on guard against Rovian trickery, the Times warns: "Indeed, Democrats - aware of Mr. Rove's reputation for pulling out all the stops when necessary and his ability to call on a shadow political machine of interest groups and donors to attack opponents - said they remained worried about what kind of effort Mr. Rove might unleash in the closing weeks of the campaign."
That line must have been written by Nagourney, echoing as it does this line from an August 11 story by Nagourneythat also displays his oversensitivity to Republican political rhetoric: "Republicans, facing tough midterm elections - and with a history, as Democrats noted, of spotlighting terrorist threats in election seasons - used the news from England to try to pound home their message that they were doing everything possible to keep the nation safe."