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The Rove Era

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 16, 2007; 7:56 AM

When I left town a couple of days ago, Karl Rove was still running the world.

Now we're awash in political obituaries.

It's a fascinating glimpse of how the media treat high-level political operatives, as if they are masters of the universe. And rarely has there been an operative about whom partisan passions run so high, as evidenced by the praise being ladled out by (most) conservatives and the scorn being heaped on Rove by liberals.

Indeed, it's fair to say that most journalists can't imagine George Bush without rapmaster MC Rove providing the music and lyrics--and doubt that W. would have made it to the White House without him.

The trashing of Rove by the left is in some ways a sign of respect, carrying the recognition that this is a guy who made his mark on both politics and policy, and whose grand theories about a Republican realignment are worthy of debate. He gets credit for victories in 2000 and 2004 and a good share of the blame for 2006. He gets credit for tax cuts and using national security as a wedge issue, and blame for the second-term failures on Social Security and immigration. And no assessment of Rove's career would be complete without examining his role in the Plame case.

Even better from a media point of view, Rove does not immediately become yesterday's news. The Democrats, having long fantasized about cross-examining him, will still be after Rove with subpoenas on the U.S. attorney firings and other controversies. Plus, his parting shot at Hillary as a strong but fatally flawed candidate suggests he won't be quietly riding into the sunset.

Before we dip into what everyone and his brother-in-law is saying about Rove, here's a snapshot of the liberal media in action, as described on a Seattle Times blog by David Postman:

"Seattle Times Executive Editor Dave Boardman wrote in one of his morning notes to staff that there had been 'an awkward moment at yesterday's news meeting.' . . .

" When word came in of Karl Rove's resignation, several people in the meeting started cheering. That sort of expression is simply not appropriate for a newsroom.

"It sounds like a conservative's parody of how a news meeting would be run. I wasn't there, but I've talked to several people who were. It was only a couple of people who cheered and they, thankfully, are not among the people who get a say in news play."

What an embarrassment.

The conservatives give Rove three cheers. National Review Editor Rich Lowry points out that he was not, however, a god:


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