Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Futile mission for Rove

In this article, Karl Rove claims that "The president's attitude is, 'History is going to write the legacy long after we are all dead or in no position to affect it -- so why worry about it?'" Sure. That's why Bush keeps trying to compare himself to Truman or Roosevelt or even -- aargh! -- Washington, whose signal contribution (besides leaving after two terms, setting a healthy precedent) was to warn against unnecessary foreign entanglements.

Whether Bush cares or not -- and you know he does -- Rove is busy trying to spin future perceptions, as the rest of the article details. He gives speeches talking about how subsequent presidents adopt institutions and customs created by previous presidents and that the "Bush doctrine" -- preventive action against bad regimes and treating those who harbor terrorists like terrorists -- will have a lasting impact.

I suspect Karl Rove, whom I've met and talked with (in a small group) at some length, is too smart to believe that. It's his job to burnish Bush's legacy, of course, in part because his own legacy is inextricably tied up with it. But somewhere in his heart of hearts he's wondering whether he picked the wrong man. To be sure, historians tend to admire presidents who make war rather than those who follow the Constitution, but I suspect Bush will go down as one of the worst in our history, and he deserves to. As one of my Washington sources put it (not for attribution, dammit), he's more equipped to be what he was at Yale -- a cheerleader -- than somebody making life-and-death decisions. To be sure, not all that many politicians are truly intellectually alive and inquisitive, but Bush's incuriosity is of perplexing proportions.

No comments: