I have found the President’s brain.

It’s true. No joke. Dubya has a brain. 

I realize this may be difficult for some of you to accept, but George the Selected actually has one. A brain, that is. The brain’s name is Karl Rove.

Now, that name may be unfamiliar to some of you. Heck, I’d be willing to bet money that if I walked through a mall and asked random people, “who is Karl Rove?” I’d get mostly blank stares for an answer. But you ought to know who this man is. In fact, it’s crucial that everyone in the world learn as much about Mr. Rove as possible. Why? Because he’s doing all the thinking for the U.S. President.

Karl Rove has been an “advisor” to Dubya since the beginning of his political career in Texas. Rove directed all the policy decisions that Bush made as Governor of Texas (the few there were – the Governor in the state of Texas is largely a ceremonial office, doing lots of ribbon cutting but not much else), directed the strategy during the 2000 election campaign and joined the staff of the White House as a “Presidential Advisor” after the Supreme Court handed the job to the verbally challenged one.

“Presidential Advisor” is a title worth examining for a moment. Generally speaking, the President is allowed to seek advice from anyone he chooses. But it’s generally accepted that anyone who will be providing Cabinet-level advice (as in regular meetings with the President, or actually drafting policy) will submit themselves to the process by which Cabinet ministers (or Secretaries, as we call them in the States) are screened and approved by the Senate. Right now there are three major “advisors” to the President who never went through any process of Senate approval – Condaleza Rice – the National Security Advisor, Tom Ridge – the Homeland Security Czar and Karl Rove – who would be called Minister Without Portfolio in most other democracies. Tom Ridge is currently the focus of much gnashing of teeth in Congress at the moment. He’s remaking the entire structure of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement community and claims that he’s not obligated to address any of Congress’ concerns about the hows and whys of what he’s up to. That’s a battle that should prove interesting to watch. Should Congress lose, and this new Cabinet-level post of Director of Homeland Security should be maintained with no congressional oversight we might as well pack up the Senators and Representatives and send them home. But that’s fodder for another rant.

I’m more worried about Karl Rove right now. Rove has been handling Dubya for years. If you pick up Molly Ivin’s book “Shrub – The Short, But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush” you’ll find a wealth of information and insights into the workings of the Bush camp, including the significance of Mr. Rove to it. To sum up, Dubya is Kermit the Frog to Karl Rove’s Jim Henson. Although I doubt Karl actually puts his hand up Dubya’s backside. It’s possible, but unlikely. When it comes to political campaigning, I doubt anyone would challenge Karl Rove’s credentials. All the man has to do is point out that he managed to get his client, George W. Bush, a functional illiterate for whom eating pretzels and watching football simultaneously could potentially endanger his life, into the White House. Rove’s secret? Don’t let this man speak off the cuff if at all possible. Dubya learns speeches real good. Dubya thinks on his feet about as well as ducks can drive taxicabs. Press conferences are to be avoided at all costs. Winging it is verboten. 

And to all of this most people just shrug. “So what?” you say. And you’re sort of right. Every politician has someone who helps him or her strategize and keep him or her in the hunt to get re-elected. And we’ve come to accept the fact that domestic policy in this country is essentially little more than extended re-election strategy. Not that we like it, but we’ve nearly given up on trying to figure out how to change that without making things worse. Here’s the rub though. We’re at war. Regardless of the fact that no war has been declared by Congress, and that no specific nation has been named as our enemy (ignoring the fact that war is something which, by definition, happens between two states), we are at war. Troops have been mobilized, extreme measures have been taken to protect internal security, and hysteria has been frothed up by officially sanctioned media pundits, etc. ad nauseum. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. War we be at. So, Mr. Rove has seen fit, as mentioned in today’s New York Times, to involve himself in matters of foreign policy and the war effort. Why? Simple, his job is to make sure his guy gets re-elected, and since our Presidents serve terms of four years and means the re-election campaign is right around the corner. Rove is making the very safe bet that the War on Terrorism is going to be a significant campaign issue. As such, he’s trying to make sure that actions taken in the name of this war have a unified message that can be sold to the voters in a way that helps get Dubya win in 2004. The problem with this is that in theory you fight a war for a specific purpose, and as the Pentagon learned the hard way in Vietnam, if you don’t have a clear objective for your war you’ll flail ineffectively, demoralize your troops, alienate your allies and ultimately come out the other end of the conflict as the loser. When the campaign for re-election begins being used as a filter for decisions about what your military or diplomats will do next in the war, you’re screwed.

Well folks, we’re screwed. As the article in the Times points out, the campaign for re-election is starting to get involved in fighting the war. The value of the expertise of folks like Colin Powell, Condy Rice and others with a vast depth of experience and knowledge of wars, foreign policy and diplomacy is beginning to be submerged under the need to make Dubya two-term President. Prepare yourselves for the kind of testing of the electorate that George the Selected’s father’s people did leading up to and during the Gulf War. Rove and the rest of the re-election squad know all too well what happened to George Sr. His poll numbers were outta-sight while the U.S. military was visibly thumping the crap out of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army (not to mention a good chunk of the Iraqi people) but as soon as U.S. policy shifted towards peaceful containment and diplomacy the armchair quarterbacks of America started to remember that George the First had promised not to raise their taxes, and promptly raised them anyway. The fear is that unless we’re actively blowing stuff up in the name of this “War on Terror” that the American voter will start to notice that his taxes haven’t actually gone down, in spite of that much-heralded tax cut, that his job is actually less secure than it was four years ago and that he’s still scared shitless of getting on an airplane and that grandma still doesn’t get any money from Medicare to pay for the fifteen prescription drugs she needs to keep reasonably able to live a pleasant life. So, enter Karl Rove, foreign policy wonk. 

Colin Powell says, “without an exit strategy we shouldn’t engage the military in any theater of combat.” Condaleza Rice says, “we’re alienating our allies with our policies and statements regarding Iran, Iraq and North Korea.” Karl Rove says, “nuke the sonsabitches!” You can see the problem. Trouble is, there’s no way out. Dubya can no more tell Mr. Rove to back off than he could tell his left hand to take a holiday at the ranch while he stays in Washington because for all intents and purposes Rove is Dubya’s brain. Without Karl Rove Dubya would rapidly begin to look like one of the villains in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. You know the ones I mean. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting Osama.

So, keep your eyes on Rove as best you can. As he goes, so goes our Republic. 

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