Karl Rove's exit: Presidential emptiness
Thursday, August 16, 2007
George W. Bush was elected twice to the White House largely because top aide Karl Rove has a keen political intelligence.
But if mastery of politics is all there is, why is Mr. Bush's presidency so terribly wounded? And why is Congress no longer in Republican hands?
Karl Rove is leaving, and it is an apt moment to survey what the Bush presidency has accomplished. Tax cuts, to be sure, and two Supreme Court justices. But Social Security privatization died while Medicare entitlements grew, the Iraq war drags on, the president is still fond of immigration amnesty, and few are putting stock in the one-time hope for a permanent Republican majority.
To a great extent, conservative principles have been cast down.
The rip on Mr. Rove is, simply put, that he is doctrinaire and does not play well with others, even members of his own party in Congress.
However, Rove, who too much melded policy with politics, is not the president. Bush is. We would be remiss to focus too strongly on Rove as Svengali, political strategist and lightning rod and too weakly on his boss.
It may have been Bush's flaw to entrust too much of his presidency to anyone. By having deferred to Rove, the president reveals of himself a needy emptiness into which content is poured by others.
On the stump one can give the same speeches over and over again. In the presidency, a person should be prepared to grow fully into what he is.
In the seventh year of the presidency of George W. Bush, is this all there is?