Karl Quits

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Bush Administration, Karl Rove

(Updates below)

This deserves a banner headline —

Karl Quits

Even better, a dancing banana —

He’s going to be spending more time with his family, children. Paul Gigot says so at WSJ

“There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family,” Mr. Rove says. His son attends college in San Antonio, and he and his wife, Darby, plan to spend much of their time at their home in nearby Ingram, in the Texas Hill Country.

Well, certainly, a son attending college in San Antonio is a crisis that can’t be ignored. But could there be other reasons for this departure? Gigot speculates —

Mr. Rove doesn’t say, though others do, that this timing also allows him to leave on his own terms. He has survived a probe by a remorseless special counsel, and lately a subpoena barrage from Democrats for whom he is the great white whale. He shows notable forbearance in declining to comment on prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who dragged him through five grand jury appearances. He won’t even disclose his legal bills, except to quip that “every one has been paid” and that “it was worth every penny.”

What about those who say he’s leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? “I know they’ll say that,” he says, “But I’m not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob.” He also knows he’ll continue to be a target, even from afar, since belief in his influence over every Administration decision has become, well, faith-based.

“I’m a myth. There’s the Mark of Rove,” he says, with a bemused air. “I read about some of the things I’m supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh.” He says the real target is Mr. Bush, whom many Democrats have never accepted as a legitimate president and “never will.”

Is this guy a pathetic whiner, or what?

There’s also the possibility that Rove is leaving the White House so that he can sign on to another presidential campaign, as psericks speculates here at MyDD. And that would be grand with me. I think most of the electorate is heartily sick of his scorched earth style of campaigning. I very much doubt Karl has much in the way of a future career, however, except perhaps as a Fox News analyst.

Seriously, it’s seemed to me for some time that Rove was in over his head. I wrote in November 2005

What about Karl Rove, who has been trying to build a permanent Republican majority? Although Rove is supposed to be some kind of all-seeing evil genius, I wonder sometimes if he isn’t more of an idiot savant. He’s brilliant at doing one thing–building political power through sheer nastiness. He may not be wise enough to see the seeds of destruction he has planted.

Ron Suskind saw this back in 2003 (emphasis added) —

… people in Washington, especially Rove’s friends, are utterly petrified to talk about him.

They heard that I was writing about Karl Rove, seeking to contextualize his role as a senior adviser in the Bush White House, and they began calling, some anonymously, some not, saying that they wanted to help and leaving phone numbers. The calls from members of the White House staff were solemn, serious. Their concern was not only about politics, they said, not simply about Karl pulling the president further to the right. It went deeper; it was about this administration’s ability to focus on the substance of governing—issues like the economy and social security and education and health care—as opposed to its clear political acumen, its ability to win and enhance power. And so it seemed that each time I made an inquiry about Karl Rove, I received in return a top-to-bottom critique of the White House’s basic functions, so profound is Rove’s influence.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, that’s Rove’s biggest blind spot — his failure to understand the substance of governing. Rove built his reputation as a political genius because of his ability as a campaign manager to knock off Democratic incumbents in southern states by means of dirty and dishonest campaigning. But seems to me Rove’s “genius” was less smarts than it was ruthlessness. Rove knows neither boundaries nor scruples. He won campaigns because he was willing to ignore moral and ethical lines and fight dirtier than other (non-sociopathic) campaign managers could imagine.

(Ruthlessness can get you a long way. Most top-office corporate executives I’ve ever had to work with were not all that bright; they were just very, very self-assured and relentlessly aggressive about getting what they want. But that’s another rant.)

So his boy gets to be President, and Rove is given a free hand to run domestic policy initiatives. And he runs them like he ran his political campaigns, because that’s all he knows how to do. And after nearly seven years in the White House, the Bush Administration is floundering, and its most remarkable characteristic is that the Bushies never did get the “substance of governing” thing.

Put another way: If blustering, smearing and intimidation were governing, the Bush Administration would have been a roaring success.

But why now? And how will this impact the rest of Bush’s term in office?

I’m speculating that the investigations into the U.S. Attorney scandal are getting too close for Rove’s comfort (see Marcy Wheeler on this). Or maybe he had a falling out with the Boy King, who might be starting to notice that, um, his administration has hit some bumps. More may come to light in the next few days to clarify this.

As for the rest of Bush’s term — well, it’ll be interesting. It’s obvious that Bush is a weak and unaccomplished man who has been more or less playing the role of President while Cheney and Rove actually ran the nation (into the ground). Will someone else step into Rove’s place (where’s Karen Hughes, btw?) so the Creature has free time for bicycle rides and naps? Or will Bush start trying to do his job (and that should be jolly)? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I guess I’ll have to revise the All-Purpose White House Press Gaggle handout.

Updates: See also The Talking Dog and Obsidian Wings.

And here’s an old David Broder column from September 2006 in which the Lord High Poohbah says the media has been too mean to poor Karl.

Update2: Here’s another clue to the Rove Mystique, from John Dickerson in Slate:

Bush loyalists looking to pinpoint Rove’s role in the difference between the Texas and Washington years note that in Texas, Rove was merely a consultant to Gov. Bush. In Washington, he was physically in the White House, with his hands directly on the levers of policy-making.

That’s something I’ve wondered. So a college dropout was put in charge of U.S. domestic policy after zero experience within government. And he failed, big time.

I’d also like to point out that a great many circumstances came together to make the Rove Phenomenon possible. For example, he capitalized on the right-wing media infrastructure that was already in place long before he got to Washington. Had there been a real Washington press corps such as existed, say, 40 years ago, Rove would have had much less room to maneuver. And he served under a weak, disinterested commander in chief who was all too happy to delegate the details to Karl. He also was dealing with Republicans in Congress who were so well trained to be cogs in the VRWC machine that they didn’t stand up to him, even after they must have realized he was dragging the GOP off a cliff.

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21 Comments

19 Comments

  1. SteveG  •  Aug 13, 2007 @9:05 am

    Interesting…I posted today on how to get rid of prostate cancer. Do I sense a theme here?

  2. Rev George  •  Aug 13, 2007 @9:35 am

    I wouldn’t whip out the dancing bananas quite yet, lest we forget that there is an election coming. Karl probably figured that he could do the world alot more good by finding a way (sucker) that will help him get back into the White House.

  3. biggerbox  •  Aug 13, 2007 @10:36 am

    You know, when I was in college, the last thing I would have wanted was for my dad to quit his job so he could spend more time with me. Is Karl gonna teach Junior how to pick up chicks?

    Still, it makes sense for him to leave now. He couldn’t go after the 2006 election until he proved he still had what it takes. Now that he’s dodged Fitz, and they’ve eliminated that pesky 4th Amendment, he can go out at the top of his game. His evil, destructive, poisonous game.

  4. Brian Smith  •  Aug 13, 2007 @10:39 am

    I have another suggestion for the All-Purpose press release; it’s a set of responses, delivered over time, in the following order

    a) It’s too early to be asking questions.
    b) I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.
    c) That’s all in the past now – we’re concentrating on moving forward.

    Bonus points for insert the phrase “The American people” into the above sentences as many times as possible.

  5. Sachem  •  Aug 13, 2007 @10:50 am

    Rev George nailed it. Turdblossom wants to drop out of sight to plan his next propaganda campaign for the ’08 cycle.

  6. myiq2xu  •  Aug 13, 2007 @10:52 am

    It’s a calculated move to get Rove out of the White House as Congress closes in. As more revelations of rove’s dirty work come along, the WH will say “You’ll have to ask Mr. Rove about that.”

    He won’t talk. He’ll take the Fifth, they’ll trot out “Executive Priviliege,” they’ll stall for time until after next years elections and then Bush will pardon Rove on his way out the door.

    Meanwhile the official talking points will say “It was a partisan witch-hunt,” and “They never proved anything.”

    Meanwhile, anytime lil’ George needs advice, he’ll just pick up the phone.

  7. maha  •  Aug 13, 2007 @11:10 am

    Oh, Marcy Wheeler has the reasons, I think. In order of likelihood:

    1. The Iglesias Investigation

    2. The OSC Investigation.

    3. The Abramoff Investigation.

    4. He pissed off the nativist right-wing base.

    5. Republicans think he destroyed their party.

    I would be very much surprised if ANYONE hires him to run a campaign ever again. He’s radioactive. On the other hand, I’m sure the VRWC will see to it he gets a think tank “fellowship” or two, and I expect him to pop up on Faux News regularly. He’ll be around, but way behind the scenes.

  8. Rev. George  •  Aug 13, 2007 @1:20 pm

    Rove/Cheney in ’08 anyone???

    Good lord, has Canada closed the borders yet?

  9. moonbat  •  Aug 13, 2007 @1:35 pm

    Great article by James Moore in HuffPo, who’s been covering Rove since the late 70s. Excerpt:

    “People wonder what his future will be and I’d like to think there will be a moment of atonement for Karl but he has not shown a shadow of conscience. He will command great fees for public speaking and is likely to be on retainers to dozens of corporations seeking his influence and insights. Of course, he will write a book and offer his perspective on the Bush administration; he cannot stop himself from spinning. I, however, still believe in the truth and its survivability and am confident history will condemn Rove and view him as a man who divided his own country to win and cared not a scintilla about the consequences of his actions beyond political victory. I have been accused for more than 25 years of overstating Karl’s importance and his influence but I am certain history will judge him the most profoundly disturbing political force our country has seen in almost 100 years.”

    “The image I see of Karl Rove as he leaves Washington is of a man carrying a gas can and a box of matches as the city burns behind him and yet no one has thought to blame him for the great blaze sundering our democracy. In his parting news conference with the president, Rove readily invoked the name of an Almighty but even this act was hypocritical. He told his friend Bill Israel years ago that he was agnostic and that “he wished he could believe, but he cannot.” Karl Rove, though, can turn even religious agnosticism into a political advantage. Were he to eventually confront a judgmental deity, that may be the one place where he will finally discover the justice he has long managed to avoid.”

  10. k  •  Aug 13, 2007 @1:45 pm

    Is Susan Ralston Singing somewhere? Did the “vanished” email turn up? and yes Those campaigns pay well

  11. mamameow  •  Aug 13, 2007 @2:40 pm

    will rove keep his high security clearance? maybe he is just going to work from home?????

  12. Swami  •  Aug 13, 2007 @3:48 pm

    Adios Rove! I don’t know what to make of it..two thoughts are that Bush has lost something he thinks is of valuable to him, and that when you’re in trouble..you’re in trouble alone.

    Where’s Gonzo?

  13. joanr16  •  Aug 13, 2007 @6:14 pm

    Pelosi’s website, speaker.gov, posted this today (also referenced on dKos):

    Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers released the following statement in reaction to President Bush’s announcement that Karl Rove will resign at the end of the month:

    “The need for Karl Rove to explain his role in the firing of the U.S. Attorneys does not diminish when he leaves the White House. Our investigation to date has revealed the White House’s contempt for the rule of law and its interest in the politicization of the Department of Justice.

    “While resignations at DoJ and the White House continue to mount, questions raised by this investigation remain. We will continue to seek answers to these questions and expect full cooperation from Mr. Rove and other officials regardless of whether they are employed by the White House.”

    In other words, it ain’t over til the Turd Blossom sings.

  14. Bonnie  •  Aug 13, 2007 @7:00 pm

    They need to send out the subpoenas and search warrants before he takes all that stuff out of the office at the end of the month.

  15. tim harris  •  Aug 13, 2007 @7:05 pm

    ‘…driving the nation into the ground’. Not being American, I sometimes wish that Americans would be a little more aware that it is not only the American nation that is affected. The rest of the world – particularly of course Iraq, but certainly not only Iraq – is being made to pay a huge price as a result of the Rove/Bush/Cheney assumption that foreign policy is a mere extension of domestic politicking. I am surprised that even now nobody, to my knowledge, has come out and at least intimated that nations allied to America are finding American policies, such as they are, not merely not in their interests but actively inimical to their interests.

  16. maha  •  Aug 13, 2007 @7:38 pm

    tim — believe me, many of us are aware that what you say is true and do discuss it.

  17. Doug Hughes  •  Aug 13, 2007 @10:05 pm

    The other shoe has not hit the floor. WHY did Rove step down?

    Is the purpose to avoid answering questions? If so, how? Will he take an extended vacation abroad? I am not joking; Congress & the DOJ know Texas is not out of the reach of Congressional subpoena?

    Or was he frustrated with the string of sucessive failures since the mid-term election, where he predicted Republican success in contolling the House AND Senate. He has not been able to deliver on privatizing Social Security or Amnesty for Illegal Aliens, both VERY big on the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce & WSJ.

    Rove is not part of the usual pack who would migrate from a lame-duck president to some other job in business or the academic world. He was the core way back in the earliest days of Bush in politics. He’s not leaving for fun, and he LOVES power politics.

    If you think Bush is hanging on to Gonzo to cover his ass with the DOJ, then he is probably letting Rove go for the same defensive reasons. The question is how moving him out of his office in the WH can distance him from Congressional probes.

    I am waiting for the other shoe.

  18. Swami  •  Aug 13, 2007 @11:55 pm

    WHY did Rove step down?

    Maybe he sees the iceberg ?

  19. Elliott Lake  •  Aug 14, 2007 @12:36 am

    It’s not that they don’t know how to govern. It’s that it’s not what they’re there for.

    I used to have trouble understanding the bizarre, stupid, awful things our local elected officials did, thinking that the reason to run for civic office was for the good of all in the county.
    When I finally realized that wasn’t why they ran for office, but for self aggrandisement (money, power; power, money)–every single thing they did made sense.

    Same with a horrendous brush with jury duty, wherein the rest of the jury were delighted with a new scam for parting poor fish from their money, said openly in the jury room they were going to try it themselves, and promptly found for the predators. Amongst these folks were school teachers, church deacons, local philanthropists. It wasn’t pretty seeing the skull beneath the skin, but it was enlightening.

    I think this is different from majority behavior of say, 50 years ago, and I don’t know how folks in this country got to worshipping power and greed, but you don’t need to look further than that for the GOP’s “difficulties” in governing. They aren’t trying to govern, at all. It’s Devil take the hindmost.

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