Monday, August 13, 2007

Bush's Brain Goes Bye-Bye

I certainly wasn't expecting this. Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist, has resigned effective August 31. Here's what the Wall Street Journal has to say:

In an interview with Wall Street Journal editorial page Editor Paul Gigot, Mr. Rove says he thinks "it's just time," that he's "got to do this for the sake of my family," and that he would have left earlier but didn't want to depart on the sour note of last fall's Republican rout by Democrats in the midterm elections. So effective Aug. 31, Mr. Rove says, he will relinquish the job of White House deputy chief of staff and longtime role of political overseer for the career of President Bush.

Rove Prepares His Political Exit

Needless to say, there's nothing terribly enlightening in the article concerning Rove's real motivation for leaving. Does anyone believe the "for the sake of his family" line anymore?

The Reuters Canada article is a bit more enlightening:

Democrats in Congress have had Rove in their sights as they look into why nine U.S. prosecutors were fired. The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed him over the issue, but Bush cited executive privilege to reject it.

Karl Rove to quit this month

Now, that's our Karl - scurrying for cover when the heat is on. Wonder if he'll still be claiming executive privilege when he's gone? Don't. Of course he will:

Rove acknowledged Democrats may argue he was leaving to avoid scrutiny, but told the Journal: "I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."

Karl Rove to quit this month

He must not be referring to the mob in the White House, because they'll certainly be pleased. With Rove out of the spotlight, less attention will be focused on them, or so they're bound to be thinking. I doubt you would have found many people who would predict Rove leaving the White House before the end of the Bush Administration. The International Herald Tribune notes:

Rove's continued presence in the White House had become a source of fascination in Washington as others, like [former Rove aide Dan] Bartlett, left, and as Democrats homed in on his role in the firings of several federal prosecutors.

Yet it was nonetheless widely believed both inside and outside the White House that he would walk out the door behind Bush at the end of his term in January 2009 and would help the president solidify his legacy before his exit.

Karl Rove, top Bush aide, to step down

I don't know what did it, but it was more than family issues that pried Rove's fat, greasy fingers from the levers of power. I suspect we'll be finding out what that is in the weeks and months ahead.

UPDATE: I should have realized Marcy Wheeler would be all over this already. She's come up with a whole list of possible reasons why Rove is resigning. In brief, they are, in reverse order of likelihood as she puts it:

  1. To spend time with his family.

  2. The Republicans have figured out he's a loser (I tend to discount this as much as the previous).

  3. Rove disagrees with much of the Republican party about immigration policy. This is at least plausible, in that the nativist strain of most Republican rhetoric on this subject isn't conducive to recruiting Latino voters.

  4. The Abramoff investigation (now, that's more like it).

  5. The Office Of Special Counsel (OSC) investigation into the politicization of the operation of government. There's lots of material there, that's for sure.

  6. The Iglesias investigation - where Rove replaced a U.S. Attorney with a good record with a political crony.

UPDATE 2: Christy Hardin Smith live blogged the Presidential press conference announcing Rove's departure.

UPDATE 3: CHS and Firedoglake readers came up with the most likely explanation - greed. As one reader put it, if he's going to peddle influence, he needs to do it while he still has influence to peddle.

UPDATE 4: In the comments, shoephone contributed this link to an article on Rove by Larry Johnson. LJ believes this may have more to do with Abramoff than other scandals, but that mainly seems to be because he has some visibility into what's going on there. The other possibility he mentions is Plamegate. Plamegate's certainly a PR disaster, but I suppose if there's any relationship there it's in the fact that Rove lost some of his responsibilities due to that evolving scandal.


shoephone said...

Larry Johnson makes Abramoff the number one reason, followed by the Plame betrayal. If Ambramoff has been singing as happily and as much as rumored, and claims that Rove was intimately involved with the bribery scandals, then I'm prepared to focus on that one as well.

But I would think that Marcy's #s 4,5 and 6 are all applicable.

Cujo359 said...

Except for the PR issues, I can't see what Plamegate might have to do with it at this point. It seems unlikely to me that the civil suit is going to go anywhere. Other than that, it could be any of those scandals, plus maybe some other aspect of the U.S. Attorneys scandal, like maybe someone discovered some of those "lost" emails at the RNC site.

op99 said...

If Rove were a Democrat, or this was a different country, the headlines and 24/7 coverage would be, "Rove Resigns as Investigations Close In."

Cujo359 said...

Unfortunately, for the opposition it's too tempting to make jokes about Bush's brain. Best one I've seen so far is from The Independent: "Bush's brain goes missing as Karl Rove retires".

Nevertheless, you'd think some headline writer somewhere would have noticed the scandals swirling around Rove, but none seem to have.

G-Natural said...

Re Bush "losing his brain/ confidante/turd-blossom/whatever " meme that floods the netways...

What, is Rovie moving to Montana? Antarctica? Ganymede? Has the US teleco infrastructure completely collapsed? (from all the AT&T-assisted wiretapping, no doubt)

I find it hilarious people think that, because he packs up his West Wing office, Turdy will be unable to still provide the 'sage counsel' that W has come to depend on. Yeah, and after Karen Hughes dropped out, she's never spoken to POTUS since. Same with Harriet Meirs, Andy Card, et al.

Of course the WHouse would be pleased with this exit: its a win-win. It deflects attention from the heat, and Turdy keeps on keeping on.

The spin? Rovie's disgraced and has to move on; no one wants to talk to him, etc. Yeah yeah, MSM, go right on pushing that lunch...

Meanwhile, is there any chance in hell of getting this bastard on any one of the myriad scandals now swirling around him like tumbleweed?? I agree that Plamegate is old news. Besides, there's plenty other fish to fry: at least in a Bizarro world where there's some semblance of the rule of law.

Cujo359 said...

No, G-Natural, I don't think we've seen the last of Karl Rove. If nothing else, he'll be another annoying fixture on the Sunday talk shows and on the news channels.

I think his influence on the White House will depend on how well informed his spies can keep him. Many of the folks who you would think would function as spies have already left. I'm sure his counsel will still be sought, but it looks to me like his influence is waning.