James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rove's Job Was Done

It seems that in the Bush Administration, Dick Cheney handled the governmental end and Karl Rove handled the political.

We can accuse Rove of giving bad policy advice, or for going along with the bad policy advice of people like Cheney. Rove's biggest strength, viewing everything in terms of political advantage, turned out to be the biggest liability of the Administration as politics came at the expense of administrative competence. There are several good reasons for non-Republicans to resent or even hate Rove. I certainly don't agree with much of what he did or stands for.

But, Rove was not the President, and the President, not his political adviser, is responsible for policy and sound administration. Unless Rove is guilty of criminal conspiracy by rigging the 2000 and/or 2004 elections, he may well be the only competent member of Bush's staff. After all, his job was not to oversee the nuts-and-bolts, but to get Bush elected and re-elected. To that end:

- In 2000, Bush took on the incumbent Vice President in a time of prosperity and peace, and (regardless of who you think is the legitimate winner) fought him to a virtual tie.

- The Republicans gained seats in Congress in 2002.

- Nobody ever deserved to lose an election as much as Bush did in 2004, yet (again, regardless of what you think of the outcome, particularly in Ohio) he clearly won the popular vote.

- One of the key issues of social conservatives was satisfied with the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Yes, the Republicans lost Congress in 2006, and there likely will not be Republican hegemony. But what could Rove have done, considering the profound ineptness in virtually every department of the Bush Administration? Was it Rove who stalled on Katrina? Was it Rove who was in charge of strategy and tactics in Iraq? Was Rove the "Decider?"

Rove's biggest mistake wasn't leaving in 2005. If he worked for a minimally competent President, the GOP would have held Congress, the Republicans would have a chance in 2008, and Rove would still be considered a political genius.

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