The verdict on President Bush, his departing strategist Karl Rove, and Republican political hopes is hardly as settled or as negative as one would gather from the purple prose of last Wednesday's Denver Post editorial, "Rove's departure testifies to a weak administration." What's weak is the pun on White House staffers' proper refusal to testify (get it?) about their confidential advice to the chief executive, under oath to a fishing expedition of the legislative branch. Rove hasn't given and won't give an inch on that principle; sorry, Democrats.
As for the editorial's line of argument, if you can call it that, who says failure will be Bush's legacy? A strong economy, six years without another 9/11 attack, and 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan liberated from tyranny and given a fighting chance at self-government, add up to a pretty respectable term of stewardship over the nation's highest office. Karl Rove helped Bush achieve all that, after helping him become the first presidential son ever to win the White House twice, after helping him become Texas governor in a stunning upset over Ann Richards, darling of the liberal media.
Not bad for a pudgy, bespectacled wonk of humble Denver origins. The other Colorado-born guy who figured prominently in Election 2004 was Sen. John Kerry, last seen windsurfing off the Cape; sorry again, Democrats.
Much of this long-winded piece reads less like political analysis than like Dennis Kucinich revving up the Netroots. Count the bromides: (1) Bush isn't low in the polls because his "failed policies... are legion," he's low because of Iraq, period. (2) The war wasn't "politicized" by Rove; war is inescapably political in a democracy like ours. He merely pointed out the obvious in noting that the American people don't want a repeat of our humiliating "cut and run" Vietnam defeat.
(3) Despite the editorial's gibe that those words now sound ironic, the irony really goes the other way as Congress has time and again recoiled from mandating an Iraq pullout. Rove didn't script the recent spectacle of top Democrats worrying aloud that US gains on the battlefield will hurt their party politically. And (4) it's untrue that "the situation in Iraq has never been more grim." Under Petraeus it's getting less grim by the day, hence those nervous Dems.
Post editors even harrumph at the sinister Rove for (5) "controlling the message as always, and placing it in [the Wall Street Journal's] friendly hands." What was he supposed to do: announce his resignation on Air America? Or maybe give Keith Olberman an exclusive? Come on.
(6) With a closing flourish of unconscious irony at their own expense, the editors --who saw Rove's candidate beat the one they favored in 2000 -- laugh off his prediction that George W. Bush will rebound in public approval and that the GOP will elect his successor next year. Har har, what does that dolt Karl Rove know about politics?
Final bromide (7): The absurdity of his forecast, you see, is demonstrated by Bush and the Republicans having lost both houses of Congress last year. Case closed, Dems win, don't even bother holding the election. But there is the little matter of history. FDR lost big in both houses in 1938, then won big for a third term in 1940. Harry Truman lost Congress in 1946 and was reelected in 1948. Eisenhower lost Congress in 1954 and was reelected in 1956. Reagan lost the Senate in 1986, then saw Bush the elder, his VP, win handily in 1988.
So that's four contrary cases in 70 years, two D and two R, for the editors' allegedly clinching indicator of a sure Republican loss in 2008. But never mind, these guys ignore troublesome data with the aplomb of the IPCC global warming claque.
My bottom line from all this is that, first, the Post shouldn't bother submitting this particular editorial for a Pulitzer, and second, Americans should thank and congratulate Karl Rove for selfless service to his country.
Mr. Rove, like his friend and boss Mr. Bush, exemplifies the best tradition of the Man in the Arena, about whom Theodore Roosevelt spoke so memorably. Indeed, something tells me TR will get along splendidly with both W and Karl when they all meet some day, up at the big Bully Pulpit in the sky.