Is he rewriting history or setting the record straight? Why not tell Karl Rove what you think in person?
George W. Bush's former senior advisor -- "Bush's brain" -- is going to be at the Mall of America to sign copies of his first book, "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight" on Thursday at 3 p.m. He's also speaking to college Republicans at the University of Minnesota for a few hours before the MOA appearance.
No question, the man is a lightning rod. When he showed up in California and Nevada for book promos, Code Pink activists attempted citizens' arrests. MinnIndy reports that anti-war activists may try the same thing here.
From the press release:
"Courage and Consequence" is the first intimate account from the highest level at the White House of one of the most headline-making presidencies of the modern age. Rove is candid about his mistakes in the West Wing and in his campaigns, and talks frankly about the heartbreak of his early family years. But "Courage and Consequence" is ultimately about the joy of a life committed to the conservative cause, a life spent in political combat and service to the country, no matter the costs.
Much has been made of his admissions of tactical error -- failing to push back against charges that the administration misled the country into the Iraqi war; botching the post-Katrina response; predictable score-settling with prominent Democrats. More interesting are the vague and largely unexamined origins of Rove's conservatism. As he tells it, he holds the views he does largely because he grew up in the mountain West, where self-reliance is prized, and because when, as a 10-year-old Denver boy, he put a Richard Nixon sticker on his bike, a little girl down the street whose family supported John F. Kennedy beat the heck out of him.
Rove, if one is to believe this memoir, has been improbably blessed in his professional life-- working for candidates, most notably George W. Bush, whose problem, if any, is an excess of honor, and against candidates who are near-deranged liars. There are repeated descriptions of how Bush's "jaw clenched" in noble resolve (two on consecutive pages) and of Rove, learning of some perfidy, feeling sick to his stomach (once while eating Chinese food). The hagiography would be more bearable if he spent less time attacking his opponents' patriotism. Those who questioned the honesty of Bush's claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were playing "a disgraceful game" and impeding the war effort. When Katrina hit, Rove says, Bush was the one sincerely trying to help. Barack Obama, by contrast, is distinguished by his "deceptions" and "audacious hypocrisy."
Maybe someday Karl Rove will write a thoughtful and candid account of how he helped guide George W. Bush downward from the national-unity president of the months after 9/11 to the derided figure who left office with a 34 percent approval rating in the Gallup poll, on par with the exiting Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman. Rove, who had once dreamed of launching a new conservative era much as his hero William McKinley did in 1896, certainly has the intellect and the appreciation of history to write such an anatomy of a political disaster. Unfortunately, "Courage and Consequence" is not that memoir. The author is excessively charitable toward everyone other than obvious conservative targets.