Release: 27 Aug. 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
In 2000 there were many people who opined that George W. Bush
would be a marionette president handled by a cooperative of Republican
elites who would never have a chance to run the presidency on their own.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karen Hughes, and Karl Rove were the Svengalis
in the wings, their power over the president-elect clear with each name
added to the cabinet roster. Three of these people were already well known
to most of us: Cheney and Rumsfeld as previous Secretaries of Defense and
Hughes as Bush’s long-suffering campaign manager. The enigma among them was
Karl Rove -- who was this man, and how is it that he already has a greater
handle on George W. Bush than George H.W. Bush seems to have?
The answers are laid out in Bush’s Brain, a filmic regurgitation of facts
and conjectures brought by the book Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George
W. Bush Presidential by Texas journalists James C. Moore and Wayne Slater.
Though not a perfect presentation of the case against Rove as a sleazy
political operative (there’s an unnecessary section devoted to a family who
lost a son in Iraq that reeks of reheated Fahrenheit 9/11), the film does a
good job of pushing the many categorical accusations against Rove, from his
Machiavellian rise to power in the Young Republicans club to accusations of
dirty tricks in Texas politics to two whisper campaigns that led Bush into
the White House (first was Anne Richards painted as a lesbian in the 1994
Texas gubernatorial elections, then John McCain linked to an illegitimate
child during the 2000 South Carolina primaries).
Rove’s been connected to many successful campaigns for various positions in
the body politic, and it becomes impossible to not feel that a few of these
accusations are likely valid (although the cynic in me wants more
information, there a brief interlude noting that Rove had been fired from
the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign because he leaked information to Robert Novak,
an event that rings very close to the Ambassador Joseph Wilson outing
earlier this year). This indictment of Rove comes at a perfect time, as his
third whisper campaign evidently goes into effect, independent television
commercials questioning John Kerry’s Vietnam credentials. I’m an independent
who likes neither Bush nor Kerry, but even underhanded tactics like this are
enough to make me move toward a president who outmaneuvered Howard Dean
instead of gossiping tales of stoned malpractice.