Karl Rove retired in 2007 as President George W. Bush's deputy chief of staff, ace political strategist and mastermind of public policy. But Rove -- aka "Satan" to liberals and not always popular with limited-government conservatives, either -- is very much involved in the daily warfare of partisan politics. A Fox News contributor and a columnist for both The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, he's also writing a book about his White House days, traveling the speakers circuit and even becoming a star on Twitter.com. When I spoke with him by phone on Tuesday, March 10, from his home in Austin, Texas, the 58-year-old was so upbeat and friendly he began by reciting lines from the Texas state song -- and even offered to sing it.
Q: If President Obama got really desperate and called you up and said, "Mr. Rove, give me some advice about this economic crisis," what would you tell him?
A: I'd say, "Listen to your economic counselor when he said, 'Any efforts to help the economy should be targeted, temporary and timely.' And people respond more to cuts in their taxes than they do to increases in government spending, particularly things that add to baseline permanent spending."
Q: How do think he's doing so far?
A: Well, he's 50 days in. He's off to a strong start in many respects. He's put together most of his Cabinet quickly. He's put together his White House staff quickly. He's moved aggressively on the executive order front. He's been helped by his secretary of State, who's hit the ground running. On the big challenge he faces -- the economy -- his grade is incomplete. But I don't think that he's been as effective on that front as the nation would hope.
The economy will recover. The America economy is just too big and too strong and the American worker and the American entrepreneur and the innovator are just simply too productive not for the economy to recover. But the question is, "Will his policies hasten that day or will they retard that day?" I'm afraid I'm on the side that says it's going to retard that day.