> Volume 6 > Number 32


Joseph Mealey
Michael Shoob

Karl Rove

Release: 27 Aug. 04

Bush's Brain


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

©2004, David Perry,, 6 August 2004