People who think the president might cast his deputy chief of staff to the wolves need to get another fantasy. Short of a Nixonian resignation by George W. Bush, or an indictment and conviction, the Architect, Bush's Brain, Turd Blossom, or by whatever name he is called, Karl Rove is on for the long ride. There would be no Bush presidency without Rove. All hopes of Republican realignment would be cast aside without Rove. Any aspirations George W. Bush had for a legacy beyond a hopeless war would be disappear as quickly as evidence of a Rove dirty political attack.
Inside the Beltway, where everyone spends far too much time sniffing each other's fumes, speculative frenzy has the Rove crisis reaching a point where the president has no choice but to separate himself from Rove. Nonsense. In Texas, we dance with the ones that brung us. Bush's presidency is a creation of Rove. In 1989, before Bush was even a marginally successful managing general partner of a losing baseball team, prior to the time Bush made the strategic move of trading Sammy Sosa, Rove was sitting down with a friend and explaining how he could make W governor and use that office as a platform for the presidency. And five years later, Bush was elected governor on his way to the White House 11 years after Rove had first given voice to his ambition to make Bush president.
But he did more. Rove sniffed the wind better than anyone in modern American politics. He sensed the rise of the Chrisitian Right, and then he facilitated it. He understood the potential of crafting messages around 911. And he built a money and issues infrastructure that is without equal in the history of our republic. There is not a Republican in Congress who did not get money, ideas, strategies, or some kind of support from Rove and his GOP machine. Republicans would take exception with the analogy, but Rove is very much like a tumor that has metastisized into healthy tissue and cannot be completely excised. At the present time, he is both the disease and the lifeblood of the Republicans.
Just look down the block to see why he won't leave President Bush or why he will not be asked to clean out his West Wing desk. In the foreground, the president is trying to salvage some element of the Social Security reform plan, and select Supreme Court justices and manage the political debate over their confirmation. Those are both Rove's job. For Republicans to retain their control of congress, Rove has to remain at work picking candidates, raising money, and developing campaign strategies for congressional and senate candidates for 2006. Retaining majority control is critical to the Rove and Bush plan to set up America for decades of GOP guidance. And when Rove indicated, during a moment of weakness at the end of the last campaign, that he was interested in stepping back from presidential electoral politics, he was advised by his client the president that he needed to hang around and execute the long term master plan for GOP takeover. If Rove goes away, the Republican dream dies.
There is a notion that Rove's continued occupation of his White House office will make the president a target and do long term damage to Mr. Bush's credibility. This leads to the coffee shop conjecture that the party will pressure Mr. Bush to send Karl away until the temperature cools on the Potomac. Not gonna happen. Ken Mehlman's entire career, for instance, is a Karl Rove creation and Mehlman is not exactly going to urge the president to move Rove out of the large white building. And, even though congressional members may begin to worry about how their support of Rove is harming them in their home districts, how can they ever push very hard to ditch the guy who took them to the prom? They can't. They won't.
So where is it going? This is in the hands of an able prosecutor, a man whose reputation is apolitical and whose performance in the criminal justice system is a good reason to retain one's faith in the way our democracy works. Patrick Fitzgerald has gone after terrorists and politicians with equal fervor. And his only standard has been the law. If an act of treason or perjury has been committed, there will likely be indictments. But that won't change anything with Bush and Rove. Their fates are inseperable. They are two heads on the same body. If you cut one, they both bleed.
Karl Rove has worked his entire life to reach a point of power where he can change the American political landscape for a generation. Unless something changes, however, his narrative line is shaping up as a Greek tragedy with Democrats singing the chorus in the background. Rove's anger at a former diplomat's opinion piece in a newspaper may destroy all that he has dreamed. And if it does, it will ruin more than just a political operative. A president will likely come to grief. And disaffected Americans, made cynical by the failures of their government and its elected leaders, will find one more reason to disengage from the democratic process.
And that's the reason we all ought to be worried.