July 13, 2005

KARL THE BUILDER:

Uproar Has Roots in Rove's Vast Reach: The architect of Bush's success, known for detail work, has kept close ties to the media. (Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, July 13, 2005, LA Times)

Rove's most significant relationship in Washington is the one he has with Bush. The symbiotic partnership not only helped Bush win the Texas governor's mansion and the White House twice, but has also fueled a national political transformation that has made the GOP dominant in a growing number of states.

While Bush has used the bully pulpit of the White House to rally public support for his response to terrorism, his tax cuts, and his proposed overhauls of Medicare, education and Social Security, Rove has used the power he accumulated to micromanage presidential policy decisions.

He has also overseen electoral politics down to individual congressional races. Rove, who carries the title deputy chief of staff, helped steer the Republicans to victory in 2002 midterm elections and Bush to reelection in 2004, and has actively recruited candidates for key races. Most recently, he met at the White House with a potential challenger to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

Those who observe the interplay between Bush and the man he dubbed "the architect" of his 2004 reelection, say the relationship is something like that of an old married couple. There is bickering, rivalry, dependency and a sense of fun.

Deborah Dombraye, a campaign aide who traveled with the two during Bush's 1994 gubernatorial campaign, says Rove and Bush "are like twin brothers." They have a joshing bonhomie and communicate with each other so intimately that much of it is unintelligible to outsiders.

"They finish each other's sentences," says Dombraye, who now works for the Ohio Republican Party.

Despite the closeness, the two men came from very different worlds. Bush is the scion of wealth and power, a graduate of the nation's most prestigious schools. Rove grew up the son of an oil geologist who moved frequently around the West. He never graduated from college.

They came together during young adulthood, when an ambitious former Texas congressman, George H.W. Bush, held the job of chairman of the Republican National Committee. It fell to the elder Bush to investigate allegations that Rove had used dirty tricks in a campaign for president of the College Republicans. The RNC chairman eventually cleared Rove, and was so impressed by the young operative that he hired him as an assistant.

Although Rove was an advisor ostensibly working behind the scenes, his name continued to be associated with public controversy. During George H.W. Bush's second presidential campaign, Rove was fired from the campaign team because of suspicions that he had leaked information to columnist Robert Novak — the same columnist who first reported Plame's CIA role in 2003, citing anonymous administration sources.

At the time, Bush's campaign was in trouble, and there was concern that the president might not even win his home state of Texas. The Novak column described a Dallas meeting in which the campaign's state manager, Robert Mosbacher, was stripped of his authority because the Texas effort was viewed as a bust.

Mosbacher complained, expressing his suspicion that Rove was the leaker. Rove denied the charge, but was fired nevertheless.

But Rove developed an increasingly close relationship with the president's son George — a relationship that began on a spring day in 1973, when the elder Bush asked Rove to pick up his son at Washington's Union Station to give the visiting Harvard Business School student the keys to the family car. By Rove's own description, young Karl Rove was awed at first sight.

"He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have," Rove told a writer for the New Yorker magazine in 2003.

A collaboration didn't take root immediately. But the two men, both attached to the elder Bush, would come to see the political world and its prospects in similar ways, building such catch phrases as "compassionate conservatism" in 2000 and the creation of an "ownership society" in 2004 into lures for many who had never voted Republican.


It's entirely typical of the way the press misperceives George W. Bush that so few recognize that "the architect" was not untinged with sardony.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 13, 2005 3:49 PM
Comments

Do the gentle readers here know that W's nickname for Rove is "Turd Blossom"?

Pretty clear who's in charge.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 13, 2005 4:05 PM

This would make an excellent made for television movie.

Posted by: RC at July 13, 2005 4:09 PM

[S]o few recognize that "the architect" was not untinged with sardony.

Perhaps, but it's also a fundamental truth.

Every CO needs a good Top Kick.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 13, 2005 4:10 PM

The "Architect" is a better moniker than "Yoda".

And Karl Rove certainly has better manners than Jody Powell, Hamliton Jordan, Michael Deaver, James Carville, Paul Begala, or almost any other political advisor one can think of.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 13, 2005 5:32 PM

sardony?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 13, 2005 10:08 PM

Since the left thinks Bush will be walking into walls or whimpering in the White House corridors sucking his thumb if Rove is forced out, it would almost be funny to see their reaction if Karl did leave his post, and virtually nothing changed in terms of White House political operations (though I suppose they would just go back to the "evil Cheney controls things" talking points they began with in 2001, before Rove became such a high-profile name in their circles).

Posted by: John at July 13, 2005 10:12 PM
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