September 3, 2007

Draper: Rove No Puppetmaster

The Washington Post previews an upcoming book that may change a few minds about Karl Rove and his supposed puppetmaster role in the Bush administration. Rove's advice did not always get followed as most imagine, but rather George Bush mostly kept his own counsel on larger policy and personnel decisions:

Karl Rove told George W. Bush before the 2000 election that it was a bad idea to name Richard B. Cheney as his running mate, and Rove later raised objections to the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, according to a new book on the Bush presidency.

In "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush," journalist Robert Draper writes that Rove told Bush he should not tap Cheney for the Republican ticket: "Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick -- it was needy." But Bush did not care -- he was comfortable with Cheney and "saw no harm in giving his VP unprecedented run of the place."

When Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, expressed concerns about the Miers selection, he was "shouted down" and subsequently muted his objections, Draper writes, while other advisers did not realize the outcry the nomination would cause within the president's conservative political base.

It was John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice of the United States, who suggested Miers to Bush as a possible Supreme Court justice, according to the book. Miers, the White House counsel and a Bush loyalist from Texas, did not want the job, but Bush and first lady Laura Bush prevailed on her to accept the nomination, Draper writes.

According to Chief Justice Roberts, he didn't suggest anyone for Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement. That tends to ding the credibility of the other revelations, but the Post account makes clear that Rove did not run the White House. In fact, Josh Bolten made sure that Rove did not get more involved in policy after Bolten's ascension to chief of staff, pushing Rove towards his specialty of political organization instead.

At least in the case of Harriet Miers, however, Rove's instincts appear sharper than the rest of the administration. Both Bushes apparently had their minds set on Harriet Miers despite Rove's warnings of disaster. Regardless of who suggested Miers -- and it seems much more likely that the suggestion came from the inner Texas circle than from Roberts -- it was clearly George and Laura Bush who championed her nomination.

His radar was less effective when it came to Donald Rumsfeld. Rove voted with the minority to keep Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense in April 2006, as the midterm elections approached. Condoleezza Rice and six other advisors voted in an informal dinner poll to replace him as a liability to the administration. Bush and Stephen Hadley voted with Rove to keep him, but in the end Bush had to let him go after the midterm debacle.

Those inclined to see Karl Rove as some sort of puppetmaster will likely be disappointed by this new look at the administration. It turns out that Bush is his own man, responsible for his decisions and unafraid to dismiss advice when he thinks he's correct, for better and worse. Draper's book will be worth a read -- but it will be Rove who will probably write the definitive insider account of this administration, and it will be interesting to see how the two eventually match or dissent.


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Comments (16)

Posted by Terrye | September 3, 2007 1:11 PM

I don't put a lot of faith in books like this. There is no way to know who is really telling the truth.

As far as Miers was concerned, I thought a lot of people made complete fools of themselves over that whole episode. The personal attacks on the woman, the outrage that Bush would actually nominate someone he wanted rather than pandering to a base that felt little if any loyalty to the man always struck me as bizarre. It still does.

Of course it was just the first of many hissy fits.

Posted by bayam | September 3, 2007 1:42 PM

about time someone came out and spoke the truth- Cheny is the Bush puppetmaster, not Rove.

Posted by Bennett | September 3, 2007 1:47 PM

I think Terrye has it right. I don't think Miers was especially qualified but the bloodletting over her nomination by conservatives was not their finest moment.

Well if it's Monday then the media message is Bush has always been his own man. On Tuesday it will be Bush is a dupe controlled by malevolent forces.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 3, 2007 2:29 PM

First off, I've discovered information travels in "packets." (Where I used to think it was like gossip, spread over backyard fences. Not anymore.)

And, that's why the Internet thrives. It takes information from a "source" and anyone who wants to can climb on board, and look at it.) Weighing it for what it's worth.

Well, like Lincoln set out to do when he was president; which was to spend the least amount of time inside the Oval Office, as anyone before. Or since. Instead, he went about. Visiting men in their offices. Going to the various fronts. And, always standing at attention, when troops came through DC. He called his method "bathing in public opinion."

Some? Well, they were surprised he didn't just wait in his office for the servants to bring the mail. (And, to let staff pick and choose what he'd get to know.)

Now, on Draper's book, coming out in a few days, there seems to be an effort to "pre-sell it." Is it flying off the shelves at Amazon? Dunno. And, nobody's gone up there yet, with a "reader review." Something I tend to trust more than I trust the pundits.

"Dead certain?" Well, in a few weeks it may be dead, too?

As to Bush's terms in office; it's been as if our current civil war is un-civil. And, its been an attempt to destroy the presidency; by limosine liberals. Ya know what? If they've developed flat tires, they're the last to know. Because some of the slop work they leave to their chauffeurs. Lucky for them, we don't use guillotines in this country. Well, they like french stuff; but not that one!

And, Bush got it worse than Nixon did. Nixon? Oy. Did he make mistakes handling the hostile press. And, losing a few Executive Privileges to the turkeys in congress; to boot. Then? He resigned, anyway.

Yes, Nixon came in on TWO landslide victories. So, it should teach ya the lessons you need to know about tactics. You can lose!

Bush hasn't lost. Nor was he too scared to make mlitary decisions. While, yes. He's also made decisions that are "corkers." But he's not gonna be judged "dead," certain, or otherwise. Because he managed to BE president; against the parasitic storms DC is quite famous for having. Time is actually on Bush's side, here.

As to the clunkers, while some here want to talk about Meirs; who got taken out of the running by WHITE HOUSE INSIDERS! Folks, it wasn't the storm that erupted on the Right! Bush heard from Andy Card. Who reported that Meirs was one of those mistakes the Bonkeys were salivating over; since they wanted her destroy her during the nomination hearings. And, it never got that far!

While FDR, at Christmas time, 1941m with Winston Churchill a 3-week guest in the White House, cooked up the term: UNITED NATIONS; in preparing the statement allies would sign, bringing them on board the fight to fight. In WW2. The United Nations, something FDR had toyed with the idea of RETIRING from the presidency, in his 4th term, to run. (Are you reading this for the first time?)

Instead, FDR was too sick; and died in April, a few weeks after he had been sworn in, again.

So, you can look at plans. And, then see how things panned out. But you need time to pass.

Bush? WOW. He managed to keep on working, in spite of all the tricks.

The left gave it to us, but good! Including Beauchamp; which was supposed to be the shot that hurt our troops. While DePalma's stinking lies about Haditha are rolling in now. Our enemies must be very pleased.

Selling this "bill of goods" to the American people, however, may be one of those things that brings up the expression: A BRIDGE TOO FAR.

It's not panning out for the pundit "class." They're stuck with their "Indulgences." And, it's only a matter of time before "desertion" is felt, over there.

Again, if you look at information as something people learn in "packets." Because eyes aren't good enough to see gradual changes; then you'll just have to put up with the dreck the MSM is passing off.

And, to which the Good Captain lets us come on board to comment on. Not just "read all about it," anymore, either.

Hey, it's a slow weekend. That, too, may having something to do with a "weak splash" for Draper. Though not for want of trying, from our stink-o MSM.

Oh, just to add. One of the things known about Rove, is that he's very soft-spoken. Which is why the President has given him his ear. If there's anyone out there who hates loud noises, made by staff, besides Lincoln; it's this Bush.

Posted by Edward Cropper | September 3, 2007 2:39 PM

George Bush for all his weaknesses has always been known as a bull-head who did his own thing.
His loyalty while commendable is also his weakness.
He is loyal to Fox of Mexico and immigration is on his plate big time.
He was loyal to Harriet Miers and bang her nomination blew up in his face.
He initially trusted Kennedy and we got No Child Left Behind.
If Secretary Powell is telling the truth he apposed much of the Iraq policy, but GW was loyal to Cheney and we got problems.
Regarding the book by Draper, you can always take much of these afterwards with a grain of salt.
Although they do you give you some insight.

Posted by viking01 | September 3, 2007 3:27 PM

Though she certainly wouldn't have been my choice for USSC when Miers is compared to Lani Guinier then Ms. Harriet doesn't look quite so bad after all. Not to mention compared to Ruth "ACLU" Ginsburg who routinely sleeps through proceedings as though excused for health reasons. "Could you repeat that counsel? I was takin' a nap."

Karl Rove gives his personal perspective of Bush 43 at National Review Online.

Posted by burt | September 3, 2007 4:16 PM

I never thought Rove was an especially important advisor. I also don't think much of most third party exposes of other peoples interactions.

An exception to this rule which I recommend is Jan Crawford Greenburg's, "Supreme conflict : the inside story of the struggle for control of the United States Supreme Court". This book is based upon justice Brennan's personal contemporary diary. Among the revaluations is that justice Scalia and others followed justice Thomas far more often than the reverse which is the common gospel.

Posted by Drew | September 3, 2007 4:40 PM

A good starting point in judging what is really happening (or has happened) in DC, is to take the conventional wisdom and run away from it 180-degrees. That will put you into the ballpark of what is happening on-the-ground, so to speak.

But, of course, GWB is the exception because he is just too stupid!

Posted by Ray | September 3, 2007 6:24 PM

Karl Rove is puppet mater extraordinaire. He even got one of his puppets to write a book stating he's not! There is no escape from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and Lord Rove is our universal master.

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, there are very few "real" puppet masters in American politics. The first requirement of a politician is an over-inflated sense of self importance (look as Edwards or Hillary for an example). How can any one maintain the delusion of absolute superiority if they are subject to a control by a puppet master? I don't think it's possible, at least that's what my wife tells me.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 3, 2007 7:20 PM

Okay, Ray. It looks like you're the resident expert. So I thought I'd ask. Between Hillary and Bill, who is pulling the strings?

By the way, one of the things about Rove, is how long he was around before anyone even noticed he was in the room.

Sentence translation: Back in time, a bit, Lyndon Baines Johnson about sewed up Texas. And, it was Bonkey-ville, from district to district.

Rove didn't even go to college. But the political bug bites him. And, he takes the biggest "once Blue" state in the union; and he converts it, to the GOP. Except for Austin.

Shaking all the hands you want to in life, that's a miracle to pull off.

I can also see why there's this "dancing away" of people around Bush, now. Because soon his Presidency will be over. And, when he walks out, he will walk out TALL. And, alone.

As to Harriet Meirs, it took awhile for her to see the light. The harms that would have befallen her, once in the clutches of the senators. Tweety Bird would'a been their lunch.

Condi Rice worries me, more. Perhaps, it's true you can't do more harms in State, than the bureaucracy allows? Did she fix anything on her watch? Can anything be fixed over there?

Meanwhile, after the republicans seated Anthony Kennedy and Souter; you gave yourselves problems. You might have had in place some stupid process "to find a candidate pleasant to the base," but you couldn't have done worse if you had just shoveled shit up onto chairs.

The truth is, no matter how you slice it, we've got a very lackluster supreme court. And, no, two men, alone, Scalia and Thomas, can't bring this around.

The mess is still there. The 5/4 status is still what the brain dead Bonkey party wants. And, with "moral compasses" like Arlen Spector (or fill in your own blank name), you're still not heading out in and presentable direction.

You bet, the communist, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has taken to sleeping during Orals; (in other words? Why even bother to stay awake) ... is terrified to leave.

Wait till you see Hillary morphing; just to get hold of the prizes where she can select future squatters. Maybe, we should just stick park benches up there?

And, then again? When nature calls, the best laid plans of mice and men can lie in ruins.

Ya know what I think? In politics, to win, you tack to the Mainstream; where it's as fast and furious as the center of the Mississippi. All the rest of it is bullshit.

Posted by Ray | September 3, 2007 8:31 PM

"Okay, Ray. It looks like you're the resident expert.So I thought I'd ask. Between Hillary and Bill, who is pulling the strings?"
Posted by Carol Herman

If your talking about who's pulling the Democrat's strings, right now, it's Hillary. 8 years ago, it was Bill. Both have an over-inflated sense of importance and both want to be in charge of everything, but Bill had his chance and now it's Hillary's turn. 8 years from now? That I couldn't tell you but I hope it's not another Clinton.

If you're talking about the Clinton's marriage, Hillary is trying to pull the strings but Bill doesn't seem to care. No matter what Hillary tells him, he's going to do what ever he wants. He's not tying to pull the strings in his marriage, he doesn't even act like he is married.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 4, 2007 12:24 AM

Ray, I know a lot of what I see from the Clinton's is bull.

But there's "somebody pulling strings." Or Hillary would be told to be happy in her senate seat. She's won it twice. Nobody's gonna run against her. And, she can sit there and grow old.

She's actually risking failure if she runs. (And, ya know what? In 1996, Bob Dole had to resign his senate seat, to run for the presidency.)

How will 2008 look, given that the senate teeters on one chair that creates a majority. And, Johnson, the democratic senator who stroked, is still too ill to sit.

No. I'm not kidding!

Is New York seat so firm that people wouldn't get upset at Hillary's run? I mean, inside of NY State. (Algore did NOT carry Tennessee!) And, while Arakansas may be a wild card; NY can't be a wild card for Hillary.

Does she have choices? Can she ask her husband to "hold her seat" while she galavants around, campaigning?

Any-hoo, for Hillary to be in the race there are powerful interests pulling strings.

Just as Oprah is willing to use her TV clout with females, to help Obama.

This sort'a reminds me of Paris fashion houses. Back in the 1950's, women loved seeing the dresses designed by Dior. And, then? These styles were copied. To own something from Dior, or the House of Channel, was to own something so perfect, it always seemed right when you wore it.

Then, about 1957, Dior went nuts. And, came up with the Trapeze. Today? It's even worse. I've seen creations I can't imagine anyone would buy. Or wear. And, my mom used to say "those french designers were homosexuals who hated women" ... because she saw the clothes as mostly UNcomfortable. As if selling this stuff was a lark; where the customers weren't in on the joke.

Okay. Among the elitist limosine liberals (who hat each other, by the way), Hillary has no apparent negatives? Well, I just don't believe it.

I agree with you, Ray. The Clinton's marriage is a sham. NO INTIMACY. Not any, after all these years. And, yet this woman presumes to be electible. In what universe?

And, whose pulling the strings?

Posted by Medulla Oblongata | September 4, 2007 10:27 AM

Bush is the worst President in US history and that is exactly how both short term and long term history will remember him. He is nothing more then a rich coward who exists for no reason other then to do the bidding of his rich wealthy handlers and keepers. He is living proof that the Republican Party of the USA never was a political that is of, for or by the people. The real track record of the Republican Party of the USA is one of plutocracy and kleptocracy as opposed to democracy as they are only good at producing Presidents who are nothing more then the rich man's rich man. Bush fleeced a prosperous nation to benefit the top 2 % of the richest wealthiest citizens on the backs of the middle and lower classes of the USA. The only real beneficiaries of his so called tax cuts were the rich and wealthy minority of the USA who do not need it. In the case of the current President, he and his rich corporate America daddy Cheney both have a lot of U.S. & foreign blood on their hands. The deaths of all U.S. soldiers in Iraq have been totally in vain as their purpose there was only so that Republicans could seize power in the U.S. senate as opposed to protecting the USA. Bush never intended on winning a war in Iraq as it was always his intention to occupy Iraq from now to eternity as opposed to any of the lies he gave to the people of the USA. Bush & Cheney’s favorite part of it all is the fact that they and their Republican Party did all this all this while removing the divide between church & state, using Christianity as a shield to ward off criticism and hiding behind the lie of conservative values as well as jingoistic patriotism.

Posted by viking01 | September 4, 2007 12:59 PM

Now there's a surprise. A raging, rabid Bush hater posting the DNC talking points who's awake before noon.

Posted by hunter | September 4, 2007 2:15 PM

Medula Obongota,
Your pharmacy just called and your thorazine refill is ready - they apologize for the delay.

Posted by newton | September 4, 2007 4:18 PM

Medulla Oblongata | September 4, 2007 10:27 AM

Just saying "I hate Bush" and "I wish him dead" would have saved you plenty of bandwidth and keystrokes.

This is yet another demonstration of BDS as a mental disorder. It should be cataloged, for sure.

As for that book - I'll wait until the President himself tells his story, thank you very much.

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