Bill Murchison

What? Karl Rove leaving the George Bush White House? I read the words; I can't digest them. Going home to Texas to write a book and, not only that, leaving politics altogether? So he announces. We'll see.

One thing we'll see soon enough is what object of derogation the Democrats fix on in the future to explain (to themselves as much as to the voters) their inability these past six years to control the political agenda. Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Don Rumsfeld, Bush himself, of course -- the list of villains will shrink only marginally with Rove's departure.

Always Rove was the No. 1 bad guy; the puppet master sitting in the shadows, pulling the strings while the president danced; "Bush's Brain," as a book title about the Bush-Rove relationship had it. In the political theater known as Washington, there's always a mustache-twirling villain, not to mention a square-jawed hero riding to the rescue. Guess how Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and, of course, the Democratic presidential field, apportion these crucial roles.

I've got some news. For all his sometimes irritating sense of mastery and entitlement, for all his mistakes -- a common commodity in human affairs -- Karl Rove no more plotted and planned a path to the Bush ascendancy than Woody Austin contrived to facilitate Tiger Woods' newest PGA title.

Ah, Sen. Reid, and you, too, Ms. Pelosi, and Sen. Obama, Sen. Clinton and the rest of you -- can't you, won't you understand that the past six and a half years have been less about plotting than about Team Bush's not-always-pitch-perfect-but-still-pretty-good understanding of public mood, public needs?

Iraq confuses the picture. Iraq, 2007, makes Bush seem less the confident commander than the bumbling subaltern, tripping over his scabbard. Reid-Pelosi-Obama-Clinton Democrats assume nothing more was indicated after 9/11 than chasing the Taliban out of Afghanistan. The Bush team, perceiving a pan-Middle Eastern dimension to the challenge of organized terror, engineered a broad response whose effects -- if we're honest enough to admit it -- may not be known fully for years.

Nor is it logical for Democrats to assume voter indifference to the consequences of an American defeat in Iraq -- the defeat their get-out-now policies would effectuate. Can't you hear them stalking the country next year, beating their chests and bragging, "We lost the war!"

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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