Rove is talented, but I think his mistake was more substantial than just not responding to Democrat charges. I think Karl is a “play as it lies” pol. He looks at the landscape and figures out how do I win given the current political climate. That’s why he favors going after the illegal vote and comes up with gimmicks like “compassionate conservative”. Reagan, on the other hand, sought to change the political climate by converting people to his point of view. Reagan was thinking ahead and placing his shots so that he didn’t have to contend with a bad lie.
Essentially, you are saying that Rove is a tactician versus a strategist. There’s truth to that . . . .