Monday, April 24, 2006

Rove's New Mission: Survival

Rove's New Mission: Survival

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, April 21, 2006; Page A23

Here's the real meaning of the White House shake-up and the redefinition of Karl Rove's role in the Bush presidency: The administration's one and only domestic priority in 2006 is hanging on to control of Congress.

That, in turn, means that all the spin about Rove's power being diminished is simply wrong. Yes, Rove is giving up some policy responsibilities to concentrate on politics, but guess what: The possibility of President Bush's winning enactment of any major new policy initiative this year is zero. Rove is simply moving to where all the action will, of necessity, be.

As one outside adviser to the administration said, the danger of a Democratic takeover of at least one house of Congress looms large and would carry huge penalties for Bush. The administration fears "investigations of everything" by congressional committees, this adviser said, and the "possibility of a forced withdrawal from Iraq" through legislative action.

"I don't think they see much chance of accomplishing anything this year," said this Republican strategist, who preferred not to be quoted by name. "The bulk of their agenda, let's say, has been put on hold."

Rove never stopped being political, even when he had formal responsibility for policy. What's intriguing about the shift in the direction of Rove's energies is that it marks a turn from the high politics of a partisan realignment driven by ideas and policies to the more mundane politics of eking out votes, seat by seat and state by state. Most of Rove's grander dreams have died as the president's poll numbers have come crashing down.....