Saturday, November 18, 2006

COME AGAIN? - Karl Rove

The twenty-second amendment to the Constitution establishes that a president shall not be elected to the office more than twice, so as far as George W. Bush running for office again, we are obviously in the clear. There are unfortunately no amendments on the books that cover who runs a presidential election, so have more than likely not seen the last of one Karl Rove.

A recent report suggests that his time in the employ of the White House may be drawing to a close.

The rumors that chief White House political architect Karl Rove will leave sometime next year are being bolstered with new insider reports that his partisan style is a hurdle to President Bush’s new push for bipartisanship. “Karl represents the old style and he’s got to go if the Democrats are going to believe Bush’s talk of getting along,” said a key Bush advisor.

Other elements are also at play: The election yesterday of Sen. Trent Lott to the number two GOP leadership position in the Senate is also a threat to the White House and Rove, who worked against him when he battled to save his majority leader’s job after his insensitive remarks about Sen. Strom Thurmond.

And insiders report that Bush counsel Harriet Miers isn’t a fan, believing that Rove didn’t do enough to help her failed Supreme Court nomination among conservatives. In fact, one top West Wing advisor said that the unexpected ouster of Rove aide Susan Ralston over ethics questions was orchestrated by Miers as a signal to Rove to leave. The advisor said that Rove is aware of the situation and that a departure might come in “weeks, not months.” A Rove ally, however, noted that he has a record of out-witting his critics.

Some find this scenario far-fetched, including David Kurtz, (the indespensible "recent" addition to the Talking Points Memo crew).

I'm not inclined to give a whole lot of credence to the rumors that Karl Rove will leave the White House soon. Does it make sense on some levels? Sure. But part of the rumor involves Harriet Miers plunging a shiv into Rove's back, and I find that so hard to believe, it makes me skeptical that any of the rumor is true.

While the actual mechanics of his potential departure may still be up in the air, I find the timing of the situation indicative of the fact that we have not seen the last of Rove on the campaign trail. After all, Rove's dirty tricks career stretches back over three decades.

In the fall of 1970, Rove used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Illinois State Treasurer, and stole 1000 sheets of paper with campaign letterhead. Rove then printed fake campaign rally fliers promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing," and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters, with the effect of disrupting Dixon's rally (Dixon eventually won the election).

I see no reason that just because Bush's time in office is thankfully coming to an end that Rove's time as a political consultant should also cease. His leaving the White House in the near future allows him the opportunity to latch onto any one of a plethora of potential GOP candidates in '08. While an ugly history would seem to preclude him working for John McCain, I could certainly see him latching onto Mitt Romney or possibly even Rudy Giuliani (though I find the latter less likely for some reason).

One thing is for certain, though Bush's time in office will be over in less than 800 days, Rove will almost certainly find himself in the thick of presidential politics well before then.

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