In an interview this morning with Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, Karl Rove announced his intention to leave the White House by the end of the month.
And it’s about damn time.
Rove chose August 31st as his last day “after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would be obliged to remain through the end of the president’s term in January 2009”, the article said.
Rove said he first considered leaving a year ago, that being the first time he consulted with Bush on the subject, but Rove’s friends confirm he had actually been speaking about it longer. (Perhaps the idea crossed his mind for the first time while he was in the hospital during Katrina. But even then, it was Rove who suggested Bush put up money to rebuild the battered New Orleans “against the advice of White House economists”.)
One columnist for the British Times Online said that, with the departure of Rove, the Bush presidency is over. While such a statement may yet prove itself premature, it does say a lot about simply how much of a brain Karl Rove was to Bush all these years. If it can be said that Bush’s entire ability to “win a final, major legislative victory” is completely dependent on Rove’s presence, that shows exactly how much power was vested in this man.
Here’s the email Rove sent “to friends” over the weekend.
No replacement for King Karl has been selected as of yet, but consider this: nothing short of a miracle in Iraq will get Bush’s public opinion ratings out of the toilet completely. Were a salaried corporate crony to be inserted into the cabinet at this point with a similar indifference to mounting public opinion, it could produce disastrous results.
Whether Rove will be remembered as the strategist who engineered political victories for the GOP post-9/11 and won Bush a second term or as the infamous accomplice in Plamegate, history has yet to tell. But one thing is for sure, Rove definitely didn’t want to stick around for the crash-and-burn epilogue to the Bush saga.