In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, published today, President Bush’s political strategist Karl Rove announced that he will be leaving the White House on August 31. “I just think it’s time,” Rove said. He added that he first thought of leaving over a year, but that once the Democrats took Congress, he didn’t want to leave on a sour note. Rove then pulled out the standard quitting politics for my family cliché. “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,” Rove said. He wouldn’t comment on special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the Plame affair, but he did say about his legal bills “every one has been paid and that it was worth every penny.”

Perhaps the biggest slap to his critics is that Rove is getting to leave on his own terms. Neither the Plame scandal, nor various congressional investigations have been able to touch him. Karl Rove has been the “Teflon Don” of this administration. When asked about people inevitably saying that Rove left due to congressional scrutiny he said, “I know they’ll say that,” he says, “But I’m not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob.” Rove also had some predictions for 2008. He predicted that, “They (The Democrats) are likely to nominate a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate” in Hillary Clinton. He also predicted that the Republicans would keep the White House. “I don’t want to be Pollyanish about it, but if we keep our nerve and represent big things, we’ll win.”

Rove claimed that at 56 years old, he done with political consulting. He said he will offer advice to any of the 2008 GOP candidates that ask, but he won’t get back into the game. Here is why you shouldn’t believe Rove on this one, politicos are like boxers. They are addicted to what they do, like a drug. A politico is a politico until the day they are put in the ground. Rove declined to name a favorite for the 2008 Republican nomination, but the guess here is that he ends up taking on an “informal” role with the Giuliani campaign in 2008. As much as it may pain Democrats to admit, Rove’s analysis of Hillary Clinton is right on the money. As far as Republicans keeping the White House, just remember that Rove also said they would win the 2006 election. It is part of his job to root for his team.

To me, Karl Rove will always be example number one of why a president’s political team should not be part of the policy team. Rove is one of the top domestic policy advisors to the president, and the problem has been that he isn’t a policy person. This administration is full of campaign people who have tried to conduct each domestic policy initiative as a political campaign, and they have completely flopped. Since 2004, the Bush administration has continued to roll out domestic policy ideas only to see each and every one of them crash and burn.

The problem is that the president surrounded himself with loyal people from his campaigns who know nothing about making policy. Karl Rove will be remembered as the strategist behind George W. Bush’s two presidential victories, but Rove is also the person Bush put in charge of the federal aid effort after Hurricane Katrina. How’s that working out for the people of New Orleans so far?

Rove’s brand of political strategy is to unify through fear, and divide by hate. I think him and the administration that he is tied to will not be treated kindly by history. His legacy will be getting a terrible president elected twice. There is nothing genius about Karl Rove. He appeals to the lowest common denominator, and managed to dress up a pig to look like a prince, not once, but twice. What has to be most galling to his critics is that Rove gets to depart on his on terms, thus proving to all, that in the end, he always was untouchable.

WSJ Rove interview 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
 

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