Karl Rove and the culture of corruption. What did Karl Rove see in George Bush that he tied his fortunes to Bush’s political star? Rove saw Bush as inhabiting the intersection of often disparate and conflicting elements of the Republican Party. Bush came from a powerful Texas family. His father had been President and that meant not only name recognition but contacts to the Republican Establishment. Bush Senior was also tightly connected to the conservative monied classes in Texas, the Northeast, and the country more generally. Despite this, Bush Junior assiduously cultivated and exploited a "good ole boy" image so at odds with his family’s wealth and power. Although born in Connecticut and schooled in the Northeast, as a Texan and with the Everyman shtik, Bush could also lay claim to being both a Southerner and a Westerner and so tap into two important bastions of the Republican Party. As a recovering alcoholic turned to religion, Bush Junior added in another part of the Republican base the religious Right, evangelical and family values vote. With this and a smattering of Spanish, Rove saw Bush could court the Hispanic vote as well. In other words, from Rove’s point of view Bush was a political goldmine.
Here were two men with little knowledge of or curiosity about the world, motivated by no great philosophy but with a great thirst for power and a willingness to do anything no matter how sleazy or dirty to win it. This was not about consensus building. It was about 50% plus 1 or close enough for a court to decide in their favor. Rove probably would have sought to politicize the federal government in favor of the Republican Party anyway but the disputed nature of the 2000 vote gave him an added incentive and 911 supplied him with a golden opportunity. The result has been the most thoroughgoing politicization, often in contravention of the law, of all aspects of government in our lifetimes.
The goal was to carve out a permanent majority using the 50% plus one philosophy, but there were two problems. First, while Bush personified the many facets of the modern Republican Party, neither he nor Rove ever unified them. The conflicts between social conservatives, libertarians, and the wealthy remained. The wealthy got their tax cuts but the financial situation of Nascar dads became more precarious. Social issues got two Supreme Court justices but no real money, and to date little change in the law. Nativist types clashed with pro-business ones over immigration. Rove’s outreach to the expanding numbers of minorities in the country came crashing down. The result was a peeling off not a building up until Bush and Rove were left with only their hardcore base of 25-30%. Second, placing political loyalty above professionalism and experience in government did not strengthen the Republican Party or the conservative cause. It created instead an environment of corruption, cronyism, incompetence, and failure. Examples of this can be found everywhere in this Administration and form much of the content of this list, but the epitome of this collision between ideology and the real world is Iraq. The practical problem with politicization of government is that it doesn’t work and produces bad results of which Iraq is the most obvious and worse.
On August 13, 2007, Karl Rove Bush’s chief political adviser throughout his entire political career announced his resignation to become effective on August 31, 2007. From his 5 appearances before the grand jury in the Valerie Plame/outing of a CIA agent case, to violations of the Hatch Act and the Presidential Records Act, the US Attorney firings, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s influence peddling schemes, investigations have swirled around Rove. Bush has invoked Executive Privilege to protect him. It may not have been enough. In Washington’s culture of corruption, all roads lead to Rove.