Members of Auburn University's NCAA Championship men's swim team presented President Bush with a speedo during their triumphant visit to the White House last week. Bush said he wouldn't wear it...at least not in public.
Still, my guess is that there's a better chance of seeing America's Emperor in his new clothes doing laps across the Potomac than there is of him firing his right hand man, Karl Rove.
I have no idea if Rove has committed a crime or if he leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press at all, as many on the left suspect. What I do know is that Rove has been getting his W-2s from W all these years for one reason and one reason only: to make sure his boss looks good. And outing the spouse of a noted war critic is precisely the kind of cold-blooded hit a hired gun is there for.
The scruples (or lack thereof) of the Roves and James Carvilles are debatable, but what isn't is their ability to take America's pulse and get their men to push the appropriate buttons. I might, with some resistance, concede the concept that it's okay to do whatever necessary within reason to win an election so one can effect positive change. Where you lose me is when a guy who's only job is to make sure his man wins keeps his job once the candidate's a lame duck.
Mr. President - and don't pretend this blog isn't part of your morning briefing - you could strike a blow against the nasty side of partisan politics by relieving Rove of his duties right now. Not because he's necessarily done anything illegal or because he's intrinsically evil but because there are no other elections to win. Throw him a party if you want. Send him off with a gold watch. He deserves at least that. But don't keep him on your payroll or in your ear.
It has seemed to me at times that Bush so reveres the men in his father's inner circle that he's had trouble trusting his own instincts.
"If Rummy says wipe out Saddam, who am I to argue? Heck, I traded Sammy Sosa."
Rove was there when Bush I was Reagan's running mate in 1980. And he was there in the former's ill-fated re-election campaign of 1992. Any wonk of Dad's is a wonk of Dubya's.
But the President doesn't need to land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier to state the obvious: Karl Rove's mission has been accomplished. He got Bush II an eight-year rental agreement on the classy side of Pennsylvania Avenue. It's time for the President to hand his attack dog's leash to the next would-be tenant of that property and concentrate on doing whatever good he can over the remainder of his final four-year contract with the American people, not on whatever Rove decides would spike the poll numbers.
For multiple reasons, Bush would be better off choosing to let Rove go now before a court of law chooses for him. It's increasingly clear that Rove's job (and his genius) has been to protect not America's interests necessarily but those of his employer. Politics - like speedos - always expose people in the end.