Editorial: Hard to believe Rove will stay away

MetroWest Daily News

Republicans might have felt the ground shift under their feet Monday with the news that Karl Rove will resign as White House deputy chief of staff at the end of this month.

Praised by President Bush as the “architect'” of his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, Rove has been in the background of Republican politics since 1973, when he was special assistant to Republican National Committee then-Chairman George H.W. Bush.

Rove has been tied to the political aspirations of the Bush family since that time but is best known for his role in the current Bush administration.

Controversy has followed Rove through the years.

He's suspected of leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press in an effort to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, assertions that we'd gone to war in Iraq using intelligence on weapons of mass destruction known to be flawed.

He's been linked by supposition to smear campaigns against Sen. John McCain, who challenged George W. Bush for the Republican nomination in the 2000 election, and Sen. John Kerry, the Democrat challenger for the presidency in 2004.

And he's used executive privilege, refusing congressional subpoenas to testify about that leak, and more recently, about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Critics of the Bush administration describe Rove as the brains behind the Bush presidency, responsible for framing high-profile issues addressed by the administration. Some, such as the first-term tax cuts, were successful. Others, including immigration and Social Security reform, were not.

Rove says he is resigning for the sake of his wife and son, and he won't be involved in the 2008 presidential election. He said he plans to teach and write a book about the current Bush presidency.

Perhaps.

Some believe the Republican Party is resigned to defeat in the 2008 presidential election because of the unpopular war in Iraq. Rove believes otherwise.

In an interview with the Washington Post over the weekend, Rove predicted the war in Iraq will improve, Bush will regain his popularity, Democrats will nominate Sen. Hillary Rodman Clinton for the presidency, and a Republican nominee will defeat her.

Is it optimism, or does he have a plan for one of the eight Republican candidates hoping to win the White House in 2008? The coming months may tell.