First, it was Turd Blossom, the “Boy Genius”, an operative with a predilection for leaks and a mean streak longer than our border with Mexico. Be it little girls, US Attorneys that believed that the justice system should not be misappropriated for partisan purposes, or Democrats in general, there was no one he wouldn’t demonize in his drive to devolve American politics to the level of team bloodsport. It didn’t matter who was actually wearing the red jersey simply as long as they weren’t wearing a blue jersey.
The beginning of the end for Rove was not two weeks and change ago when his departure was announced. The beginning of the end was the White House’s hamfisted targeting of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004, a political milquetoast who spent his last three years in office rolling over for the White House at almost every turn. By teaching Democrats what their reward for compromise was, he set the stage for the next two contentious years and gave the party its spine back— Which came in handy in 2006.
In the end, he demonstrated theWalter Mitty-ish grasp of reality that has been the trademark of this White House:
SIEGEL: I’m looking at all the same polls that you are looking at.
ROVE: No, you are not. I’m looking at 68 polls a week for candidates for the US House and US Senate, and Governor and you may be looking at 4-5 public polls a week that talk attitudes nationally.
SIEGEL: I don’t want to have you to call races…
ROVE: I’m looking at all of these Robert and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I’m entitled to the math.
And then there’s Alberto “Gone-Zo” Gonzales.
One upon a time, our word was our bond. We said we wouldn’t torture, and we didn’t. While their fathers’ generation managed to subdue Germany and Japan into submission simultaneously without losing sight of American values, this Alberto Gonzales and his boss cannot take out a moderately funded terrorist group and a nation crippled by a decade of sanctions without losing sight of American values. The Geneva Conventions we signed onto? Gonezo called it “quaint“.
The administration of justice in the United States was treated no less cavalierly. He played a lead role in firing US attorneys for refusing to take part in politically motivated indictments designed to help swing an election, showed his utter contempt for Article I of the Constitution, and signed off on the warrantless surveillance that reduced civil liberties in this nation to that of Soviet-era Russia, all before trying to convince the Judiciary Committee that, while he didn’t remember who told him to fire the US attorneys, he’s certain it was neither Bush nor Cheney, two statements that in complete contradiction with one another. His resignation might help him avoid perjury charges. Then again, it might not.
And who are their replacements?
Karl Rove is being replaced as Bush Crime Family consigliere by Ed Gillespie, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute (Do you ever get the feeling that the Bush White House’s idea of diversity is hiring people from two different oil companies?) and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and former spokesman for George “Macaca” Allen. Nothing too surprising there.
More troublesome is the idea that Gonezo might well be replaced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, one of the head honchos that forgot where New Orleans was two years ago this week.
Of course, the name being tossed around as a replacement for Chertoff is Clay Johnson III.
The good news is that we know Johnson has an extensive background in disaster management. He was George W. Bush’s roommate at Andover. If he has any otherqualifications, they remain to be seen.
It’s certainly not unusual for a president’s inner circle to depart in the last half of a second term. But in this case, it appears to be a symptom of political impotence. It’s been said that 32 is the temperature at which political influence freezes. With this White House’s approval ratings, 32% seems like the good old days.
When you play politics like it’s a game, the time comes when you eventually have to lose. All the president’s best players have left the field.