Good consultant, bad adviser

Karl Rove is more than the "witness to history" he called himself in his resignation announcement Monday.


He's every bit the architect of it that he's been called.

But while the longtime Bush family friend changed everything with his "strategery," the role of campaign consultant and White House adviser are nowhere near similar.

Rove was a brilliant consultant.

He was, by all appearances, a horrible adviser.

No one knows how much of the Bush administration's fecklessness has been a function of those around the president. Our own instincts tell us George W. Bush isn't the lackey critics depict; we seriously doubt he's been overly manipulated by either Rove or Vice President Dick Cheney.

But if Karl Rove is even a small part of the president's brain, the president has been poorly served.

Again, we don't know precisely everything that can be laid at Rove's feet. But we know he was in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case up to the top of his waders. We wonder how much he was involved in the disastrous Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination, and the public relations nightmare surrounding Katrina. And Democrats - though beating a dead horse - are trying to find out the extent of Rove's participation in the U.S. attorneys firing.

The truth is, any Bush missteps pushed along by Rove have been greatly exaggerated by Democrats in Congress eager to bloody the administration as much as possible in advance of 2008 elections.

That's politics.

What bothers us is the policy.

What really rankles us about Karl Rove is how well he rounded up the conservative faithful come election time - then let conservative values twist in the wind under his friend, the president. Time and again, those conservatives who put Rove's boss in office were left without a president - on illegal immigration, on judicial nominees, on Social Security reform, on tax reform and, worst of all, on spending.

Rove may not have been the president, or even his brain, but if he didn't agree with what was going on, he knew where the portal was.

When the construction workers go astray, it's incumbent on the architect to speak up.

So, in essence, he built a fire among conservatives, then put it out. In the process, he damaged his party's long-term prospects for his friend's short-term gain.

You have to wonder about the wisdom of bringing your campaign consultant in to advise you once the ballots are counted.

Running a race and running a country are two different things, requiring two different skill sets.

They should probably involve two different people.



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