President Bush’s ship, the U.S.S. Clueless, is sinking beneath him while he blissfully continues to think everything is just fine and dandy. Why, just last week he told us that the disastrous invasion of Iraq would someday be regarded as a wholly justifiable venture, just like Vietnam. He also said history would eventually come around to realize his greatness as president. What the Bush in the Bubble missed, however, is that the rising waters have already claimed rats like Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales, who both recently decided to jump from Bush’s sinking ship.
Just two weeks ago, Karl Rove, the man who has been called “Bush’s Brain” (gads, what a title), decided he needed to resign “for the sake of his family.” That the best excuse this feared political strategist could come up with to pull his lips out of the president’s ear was the same hackneyed excuse used by virtually all politicians when they disappear beneath the waves of misfortune shows just how far he has fallen. Given that Rove has been living in a fantasy world of the great success of Bush’s presidency, the least someone could do is inform him that his only child, son Andrew, is in college now—and it just might be a little late to decide to spend quality time with the family.
That Rove was the Head Rat on Bush’s ship of fools can hardly be denied. Sometimes called “the boy genius,” Rove set the standard for his brand of politics way back in 1970 when, at the tender age of 19, he used a fake ID to enter the office of a Democrat candidate for state treasurer and stole 1,000 sheets of campaign letterhead. He then proceeded to write an invitation promising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing,” and distributed them at homeless shelters and rock concerts with the goal of intentionally disrupting a campaign rally planned by the Democrat candidate. From there, his ethical standards only went down.
Rove was investigated by the FBI in the Watergate scandal but, according to then-White House Counsel John Dean, he slipped the net because prosecutors “had bigger fish to fry.” His unethical political practices grew from then on, and he was noted for a variety of push-polls and ads that used racial and homosexual slurs and innuendos against a variety of opponents for the next 20 years.
Rove worked on high-profile campaigns for Republicans including Ronald Reagan and both George H.W. and George W. Bush. And everywhere he showed his face, controversy and corruption followed. As the “architect” of George W. Bush’s presidential bids, Rove played a key role in the highly suspicious outcome of the Florida vote. A quick review of his history, however, shows that this was merely a replay of an earlier tactic during a 1994 Alabama Supreme Court race in which the court battle over absentee ballots raged for 11 months. As in the case of Bush, Rove prevailed through a decision of the court, the absentee ballots were not counted, and his candidate won by a mere 262 votes.
His tenure with President Bush included involvement in a number of highly controversial affairs, ranging from the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the missing White House e-mails and, most recently, a congressional investigation into the politically motivated firing of U.S. Attorneys by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Rove was subpoenaed, but spared from testifying by the direct intervention of President Bush, who claimed executive privilege.
Just as Rove had the good company of Attorney General Gonzales in his scandal-ridden tenure at the
White House, so he has it in his resignation. Gonzales, now the target of Congressional investigations, announced his own resignation this week.
When it comes to rats, Gonzales is every bit as sleazy as Rove. As counsel to Bush during his tenure as governor of Texas, the two racked up the dubious distinction of executing more prisoners than any other state. Following Bush to the White House, where he again acted as counsel to Bush, Gonzales drafted the executive orders that began the disintegration of our constitutional rights and the honor of our nation.
It was Gonzales who decided the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, and Gonzales who wrote the Presidential Order authorizing military tribunals—not open courts—to try terror suspects. Gonzie, as Bush liked to call him, was the guy who kept Congress from finding out who was on Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force and what they talked about.
He was also a chief defender of the USA PATRIOT Act, the infamous legislation passed by a knee-jerk Republican-dominated Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 bombings without being read by most of those who voted for it. Warrantless wiretapping of our own citizens by the National Security Agency? Gonzales says it’s just fine. When the Justice Department began an investigation of the matter, Bush denied access to the investigators by denying them security clearance. Habeas corpus? Gonzales told Congress the Constitution only says they can’t take that right away, not that it exists.
In his Congressional grilling last month, Gonzales suddenly developed a mysterious inability to remember most of what he had done as Bush’s counsel and Attorney General. As the contradictions between his testimony and that of other witnesses piled up, the issue of Congressional perjury arose and it became clear that the rope was growing shorter for Bush’s remaining rat.
And so Gonzales, too, jumped from Bush’s sinking ship. Rove leaves within days and Gonzie will be gone in a couple of weeks, leaving the feckless, disoriented and delusional Bush to plug on alone.
The damage these men have done to our country is inestimable and long-lasting. But now, thankfully, they are gone. Presidential candidate John Edwards summed it up best for all of us when, hearing of Rove’s resignation, he succinctly replied: “Good riddance.”
Helena’s George Ochenski rattles the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at email@example.com