Chief political adviser and deputy chief of staff, Bush's chief strategist is leaving. He says he had a choice between staying until the end of Bush's term or leaving before Labor day.
Rove announced his resignation in a Wall Street Journal interview released this morning.
This writer has questions. It does not seem like Bush would allow Rove to leave, just as he does not allow troops to stay home. Rove has "institutional memory" and the trust of Bush, like no other. So why is this happening?
The mainstream media seem comfortable, at least so far, accepting his reason for leaving-- to spend more time with his family.
But coming back from the 110th congress's vacation, Rove was due to face subpoenas, charges of contempt of congress and many efforts by senate and house chairs to get him to talk.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul GIgot writes,
"I just think it's time," he says, adding that he first floated the idea of leaving to Mr. Bush a year ago. His friends confirm he had been talking about it with others even earlier. But Democrats took Congress, and he didn't want to depart on that sour note. He then thought he'd leave after the State of the Union, but the Iraq and immigration fights beckoned. Finally, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told senior White House aides that if they stayed past a certain point, they were obliged to remain to Jan. 20, 2009.
"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," Mr. Rove says. His son attends college in San Antonio, and he and his wife, Darby, plan to spend much of their time at their home in nearby Ingram, in the Texas Hill Country.
Mr. Rove doesn't say, though others do, that this timing also allows him to leave on his own terms. He has survived a probe by a remorseless special counsel, and lately a subpoena barrage from Democrats for whom he is the great white whale. He shows notable forbearance in declining to comment on prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who dragged him through five grand jury appearances. He won't even disclose his legal bills, except to quip that "every one has been paid" and that "it was worth every penny."
What about those who say he's leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? "I know they'll say that," he says, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob." He also knows he'll continue to be a target, even from afar, since belief in his influence over every Administration decision has become, well, faith-based.
"I'm a myth. There's the Mark of Rove," he says, with a bemused air. "I read about some of the things I'm supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh." He says the real target is Mr. Bush, whom many Democrats have never accepted as a legitimate president and "never will."
It is his long and personal relationship with Mr. Bush that has made Mr. Rove arguably the most influential White House aide of modern times.
Rove told the WSJ he expects FISA to divide the Democrats, that he expects a fatally flawed Hillary Clinton will become the 2008 Dem presidential candidate.
Chris Matthews observed, commenting on Rove's claim that he was leaving to spend more time with his family, "I"m sure it's true. It's not the reason, but I'm sure it's true."