Monday, August 13, 2007

Red Rover, Come Over

Obviously, the big story of the day is Karl Rove leaving the White House in a rush at the end of this month.

Much speculation will center on why:
"I just think it's time," Rove, 56, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday.

"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."
Hm. The stock political excuse, and it covers all manners of sins. For some, it's covered a pending indictment. For others, it's covered internal clashes with others in the White House, which one has lost. To save face, one claims a family matter, and leaves graciously.

We can hope for the first, but I seriously doubt it's the latter. Rove has too much sway with Bush, having guided his political career for fifteen years straight to the Presidency.

Speculation is that he had a contempt of Congress charge hanging over his head. Leaving the White House takes away any executive privilege cover, and of course, he would now be subject to prison time for refusing to testify.

So not a likely reason.

The real clue is this:
Rove finally decided to leave after Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, told senior aides that if they remained past early September, they would be obliged to stay until the end of Bush's second and final term in January 2009, the paper said.
Ah. There we are.

Rove intends to get back into the fight with another candidate. After all, why not run out the clock? Yes, he has a son heading to what? The last time I checked, the last thing a father has to do is be around for a college kid. By that point, they're either going to swim or sink on their own.

What clues can we look for to confirm this suspicion? Well, Rove and Karen Hughes were integral parts of Bush's 2000 campaign, and while Hughes left the White House (to return in 2005 as an Undersecretary of State in charge of burnishing the US image abroad, something she's fucked up worse than before she got involved), she's been very quiet for two years now.

Indeed, about the only news from State regarding Hughes has been the resignation of media affairs director Floyd Price, who quit after 17 years at State because he believed the Bush administration had so screwed up foreign relations that it would require a new President to get any glimmer of respectability back in the world's eyes, partly because he felt Hughes had approached it from the wrong angle.

You'd have to think that Hughes will be announcing her resignation shortly. Should that come, you'd have in place the strategy and communications team that very effective vaulted Dubya from a crappy governor of a middling state (in administrative terms) to the Presidency (no matter how obtained).

So who hires them? McCain? Old news. Giuliani? Possibly, but Rudy has this need to be the focus of attention and center of the universe, large and in charge of everything. I don't think he could cede the kind of dirty work that Rove is known for to him. He wouldn't trust him.

Which really only leaves Mitt Romney. And I think the fit is good. Mitt is a slightly more polished version of Dubya, all Ivy League, Massachussetts, coiffed and burnished. All it really requires is a little adjustment in the playbook, and Rove could make Mitt more than a viable candidate.

It's early enough in the process that Rove could even be pondering taking up Fred Thompson nascent campaign, but the fund raising difficultiues Thompson has demonstrated seem to tell me that his run is a non-starter. Just a sense I get, nothing more than that.

At 56, he's young enough to do this for at least two more campaigns, and his ego is big enough that I think he wants to prove it was him and not Bush who won the White House.

It will be interesting.