...or at least he will by the end of August
This morning we learned of yet another devastating blow to the Bush administration. No, it had nothing to do with Iraq or Bush's fishing trip with Sarkozy — it's bigger than that.
'The decider' looks to have lost his decider: Mr. Karl Rove, king of Bush advisers and duke of GOP strategy.
A few hours ago, Rupert Murdoch's new conservative crown jewel, the Wall Street Journal, broke what will probably be the biggest American political story of the week: Karl Rove's resignation.
"He will move back up in the polls," says Mr. Rove, who interrupts my reference to Mr. Bush's 30% approval rating by saying it's heading close to "40%," and "higher than Congress."
Looking ahead, he adds, "Iraq will be in a better place" as the surge continues. Come the autumn, too, "we'll see in the battle over FISA" -- the wiretapping of foreign terrorists -- "a fissure in the Democratic Party." Also in the fall, "the budget fight will have been fought to our advantage," helping the GOP restore, through a series of presidential vetoes, its brand name on spending restraint and taxes.
As for the Democrats, "They are likely to nominate a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate" by the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Holding the White House for a third term is always difficult given the pent-up desire for change, he says, but "I think we've got a very good chance to do so."
If that quinella pays off, however, Mr. Rove will have to savor it from somewhere other than his West Wing office. He's resigning effective Aug. 31 -- 14 years after he began working with Mr. Bush on his campaign for Texas governor, 10 years after they began planning a White House run, and after 79 months in the political cockpit of a tumultuous presidency.
"I just think it's time," he says, adding that he first floated the idea of leaving to Mr. Bush a year ago. His friends confirm he had been talking about it with others even earlier. But Democrats took Congress, and he didn't want to depart on that sour note. He then thought he'd leave after the State of the Union, but the Iraq and immigration fights beckoned. Finally, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told senior White House aides that if they stayed past a certain point, they were obliged to remain to Jan. 20, 2009.
"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.
Splitting the party poles
Rove is the master of polarizing America and making the political discourse all the more irrational. He led the effort of painting the Democrats as weak on national security, an allegation they still even cave into Bush and break the Constitution to fend off. He learned how to push the right partisan buttons in his years in the White House; he pushed those buttons quite well. Besides getting caught up in the Plame investigation and a silly dance (MC Rove!) on YouTube (and a series of congressional probes), Rove pretty much got away with all the trash he inserted into the beltway.
As the debate gets going, Mr Bush and the Republicans will surely miss Mr Rove, who was quick to seek partisan advantage by tarnishing Democrats’ reputation on security. This injected added acrimony into American politics, such as when in June 2005 Mr Rove accused the Democrats of being fainthearted in their response to terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001.
Questions to consider on the implications of this latest development in the George W. Bush presidential saga:
The Guardian Newsblog has a nice roundup of who's saying what about the resignation of Rove.
And who says everything bad happens in August? Take that David Plotz of Slate! Karl Rove leaving is most certainly a good thing for America. Of course he will probably enter the private sector and further muck up the nation's political lobby...