Democrats have to be worried that when Karl Rive exits the White House in August, he’ll take a month off and end up at the virtual elbow of Mayor Giuliani, Governor Romney, or Senator Thompson. They should be worried. Of course that’s what he (and Ken Mehlman) will be doing. All-stars whose franchise can’t play for the title often show up in the heat of the hunt. Politics is like sports in many ways. And Rove is the Tiger Woods of politics. (That would almost make Bob Shrum Greg Norman, but Norman won two majors. I need a better analogy for Shrum.)
Rove is 5 for 6 in the big elections he has skippered, and despite more attacks than any presidential aide in history, he is strolling out of the White House with a smile on his face and the admiration of nearly everyone in the GOP. If he gets bored, there will be pleny of opportunities for him to return to the thing he does best –beating Democrats in November. When he does return, Dems will panic again.
“I’ve known Mr. Rove for 19 years and spoken to him hundreds of times,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot’s in a profile of Rove from this morning’s paper. “Yet I can’t recall a single instance where he disclosed how his views differed from Mr. Bush’s.”
That’s because of loyalty, of course, the rarest of Beltway virtues, and one which has defined not just Rove but the president he serves. Loyalty to Iraq is now driving the Administration in its last 17 months, and the political leadership of the Republicans will transfer to a new leader not later than mid-February. Rove knows that while the White House can support the new nominee of the GOP, it cannot control the campaign.
Rove’s genius is American politics, subspecialty, elections. The White House is the one place where he’d be guaranteed only a secondary role in the months leading up to November ’08. Whether it is Rudy, Romney or Thompson, the GOP’s standard-bearer would be crazy not to consult with Rove between now and the showdown with Hillary. And Rove’s calls to the president aren’t going to end. The Dems were going to worry about October surprises anyway, now they have another bit of their paranoid theory of politics in place: The Rove Go-Between.
It isn’t a bold prediction to say that Rove is still going to be working on behalf of the president and party he has served for so long. No doubt he will do it while writing a memoir that will be among the most anticipated in Beltway history if Rove opens the curtain on the past decade. The best title is the one Gigot used today: The Mark Of Rove. You’ll find it on the backside of many, many Democrats.