Karl Rove Waves Goodbye from His Rathole

by Laura Snedeker

Karl Rove knows when to quit. According to an interview with Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot, the White House deputy chief of staff will resign effective Aug. 31.

Like numerous other administration officials, he too wishes to spend more time with his family (which is conveniently far away from Washington). Unlike those of John Ashcroft, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, or Donald Rumsfeld, Rove’s departure isn’t part of a second-term re-alignment or disgraceful resignation.

Unlike Rumsfeld, who resigned after the midterm elections in which the Democrats captured the House and Senate in a perceived repudiation of the government’s war policy, Karl Rove won his battle when he escaped indictment in the Valerie Plame scandal. Adding insult to injury, the CIA even refused to allow Plame to disclose the length of her tenure as an operative.

White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told senior officials they would either have to leave before Labor Day or stay until the end of the term, but it’s unlikely that this rule was meant to apply to the Architect himself.

There are other administration officials who should be jumping at the opportunity to make a break for it. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who faces questions over his role in the government’s warrantless wiretapping program, could save himself from further embarrassment by resigning gracefully. It’s only his loyalty that keeps him Bush’s last line of defense.

Condoleezza Rice, now the moderate of the Bush administration, could have many years ahead of her in government or in the private sector. Given America’s poor standing in the world, it might be better for her to slink away and let another poor sap deal with the fallout.

Karl Rove is smart enough not to latch his career to one man. The names of those who follow Bush to the end will be etched in popular memory. Americans most revile Gonzales for corrupting the Justice Department, although Ashcroft’s actions during Bush’s first term were just as sinister. Although Colin Powell made the original case for war, the public blames his successor for the failure in Iraq.

He’s done everything he can to keep the Bush administration afloat, but impeachment or not, the president is out the door in 18 months. Like the king rat on a sinking ship, Rove would rather not be there for the inglorious end. He worked dirty tricks campaigns while Bush waited out the Vietnam War in his National Guard champagne unit, and his loyalty lies with a process rather than a person.

Is it a coincidence that this announcement comes right after the Iowa straw poll? If Rove could make the spoiled, bumbling son of a former president look like the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan, than he can make a shifty Mormon flip-flopper look like a born-again Christian conservative.

The antics of the Bush White House put Rove firmly in the spotlight, an uncomfortable place for a man more accustomed to the political underground. Rove is what American politics are all about when we get below the shiny, superficial surface. He’s a parasite without a host, but there’ll be plenty of bodies in 2008.

(Editorial graphic courtesy of DarkBlack and used with permission. For more material like this, please see DarkBlack's blog.)

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