Finally, an end to a long illustrious career. The cliche and quite enviable "more time with his family excuse" has never sounded so dulcet. Karl Rove, the pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain, is finally turning in his scales, measuring tapes, and political t-bars and resigning his post of resident "architect" in the White House.
Rove's official title is Deputy White House Chief of Staff, and he has been described as the brains behind the campaign operations. Despite what you think of him, credit is due; the man did get Bush into the White House twice, once without the popular vote. Rove is in many ways a doppelganger to Cheney - a powerful man who is rarely heard at the forefront, but felt in the waves of political policy and under dealings. He's no nebbish pushover. Case in point, we still aren't one-hundred percent clear on just what kind of information he leaked to the press, although it's not too hard to imagine he had Novak on speed-dial.
With all the shouts of triumph, I ask everyone happy to see him go to give this maneuver a bit more thought. He is not leaving because of any scandal - he is simply moving on, unwilling to complete the last year or so of Bush's leadership. And this is a shrewd move on Rove's part. He doesn't have much left on his agenda in this administration, as he can't help Bush seek another term. Also, his opportunity cost would take a hit - he can earn much more money selling a book, touring the country, or even joining another campaign as an advisor. And this brings up the main fear: Red Rover is not done playing.
Friends are a lot more open and able to give advice when they're not on the payroll. Throughout history, friends without title or responsibility are often at the most advantageous location when the one in power wants a helpful vantage. For anyone who thinks Rove's influence in the White House ends with his signed letter of resignation, they overestimate the power of a well-timed John Hancock. Rove will still be helping out, and in fact, Rove's prediction that Bush will regain popularity is most likely accurate, because with Rove resigned, Bush's approval rating will probably nudge up a point or two.
The point of the matter is this - Rove tinkered in the shadows. He liked it there, and his resignation cements his ability to stay there. In fact, he will not be required to answer for the advice he gives, and the dealings he makes as an unemployed American citizen. Let's just all pray he doesn't claim wellfare.