Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Karl Rove is the most polarizing American political figure outside of the man he serves, President George W. Bush.
So it was no surprise that liberal corners of the blogosphere rejoiced at his announcement Monday that he will resign ("THERE IS A GOD!!!!!!" read a post at myDD.com) and were dubious about his stated desire to spend more time with his family.
Just as predictably, many conservatives online sounded piously respectful ("The Boy Genius is gone" headlined a blog post at the conservative TownHall.com) and mourned the loss of the man known as "Bush's Brain" and "The Architect" of Bush's ascendancy to the White House.
Yet in a sign of the deepening divisions in the Republican Party, the conservative punditocracy wasn't all singing together. Some prominent conservative commentators ripped Bush's deputy chief of staff and senior adviser since 2001 as he makes his the way out the door.
Michelle Malkin, the commentator behind one of the most highly trafficked conservative blogs, www.michellemalkin.com
, took on the Wall Street Journal article that broke Rove's resignation Monday:
"Not a word here about the Harriet Miers debacle, the botching of the Dubai ports battle, or the undeniable stumbles in post-Iraq invasion policies. And not a word about the spectacular disaster of the illegal alien shamnesty, which will be the everlasting stain Rove leaves behind.
"Imagine how much better off the White House and the Republican Party might be now if he had, in fact, left a year ago. Yes, there's the legacy Rove should ponder as he puts his feet up," Malkin wrote.
Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote Monday on andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com
that "Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war - and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency.
"His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government have turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so. It will take another generation to recover from the toxins he has injected, with the president's eager approval, into the political culture and into the conservative soul," Sullivan wrote.
Robert Bluey, director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, wrote on RobertBluey.com, "Karl Rove will be missed, and not just by those who admire his brand of political strategy. His adversaries have lost public enemy No. 1. And for that reason, I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad to see him go.
"Rove always had his hand in everything, and if I fault him for one thing, it's straying from conservative principles. On education, health care and immigration, Rove oversaw policies that alienated Bush's allies and may have contributed to last year's electoral losses," Bluey wrote.
Despite these comments, there was no shortage of Rove-love flowing Monday.
Hugh Hewitt, a conservative talk show host and commentator, predicted "that Democrats have to be worried that when Karl Rove exits the White House at the end of August, he'll take a month off and end up at the virtual elbow of Mayor Giuliani, Gov. Romney, or Sen. Thompson. They should be worried.
"All-stars whose franchise can't play for the title often show up in the heat of the hunt. Politics is like sports in many ways. And Rove is the Tiger Woods of politics," Hewitt wrote on hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog
Patrick Ruffini, a conservative blogger, wrote on the same site, "For those of us in politics, an operative like Karl Rove comes across once in a generation. The Reagan generation had Lee Atwater. And we had Rove."
Overseas, an online editorial in Monday's Financial Times argued that Rove has already helped write Bush's political obituary:
"The resignation of Karl Rove will be seen in many quarters as the end of George W. Bush's administration. With 18 months to go before the next president takes office, the sudden air of finality is a measure of the man's influence and reputation.
"He was a shrewd adviser with an impressive record of winning elections. But he got many things wrong - and in the end the presidency in which he was a junior partner will be judged a failure." While there were plenty of giddy, joyful comments on liberal sites like www.dailykos.com
, other posters demanded that congressional Democrats continue to pursue investigations involving Rove. And for some, like a commentator on DailyKos under the name The Sinstral, Rove's resignation is almost anticlimactic:
"He's done so much. I wish we had nailed Rove years ago. Him leaving now is like resigning from a poker tourney after breaking the bank. We get to gloat now that he's gone, and sigh in relief that he won't do any more harm, but in every way that really counts, Rove won ... not us."
Responding to The Sinstral was a commentator called Hudson: "I agree that the harm he's done is almost beyond repair. But the good news is that we can expect Bush to be completely adrift for the remainder; I'm hopeful this news will help the more timorous Dems to finally realize that W. is not invincible."
Pundits of all stripes doubted Rove's stated reasons for leaving. On MichaelMoore.com, a photograph of Rove and his son Andrew accompanied the sarcastic headline, "Andrew Rove Gets More Time with Daddy." Malkin wrote that Fox News Channel's E.D. Hill noted "the curious playing of the 'family' card ... Rove's son is going off to college." Said Hill: "I'm not sure how many kids going off to college have time for more 'family' time."
On Time magazine's Swampland blog, Ana Marie Cox, founding editor of the popular Wonkette blog, wrote Monday:
"Sure, it's tempting to speculate that Rove is leaving because, finally, there's some kind of investigation (just reach into the Congressional Record and pick one) that's made his stay at the White House untenable. Here's a slightly different conspiracy theory: SOMETHING ELSE VERY BAD IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN ... OR ALREADY HAS. And everyone covering the White House will be too busy divining the meaning of Rove's scattered entrails to notice."