This is politicalwire.com’s quote of the day for Monday, citing the Austin American-Statesman as the source for Rove’s remark: “I’ve got behind-the-scenes episodes that are going to show how unreceiving they were of this man as president of the United States. I’m going to name names and show examples.” I actually had this conversation with Karl almost a year ago, over the New Year’s weekend. He told me pretty much the same thing, although he was referring specifically to Democrats in our conversation. I also had an interview with him at the White House in December 2003 during which he described a meeting with House Democrats. The subject was fast-tracking the president’s trade authority. He invited all the Democrats who had supported fast-tracking for Bill Clinton. As Karl told the story, he asked for their support, but, one by one, the Democrats, around 35 of them as best I can recall, explained why they couldn’t vote for it. I said to Karl, “What did you offer them?” and he said, “We offered them the chance to do the right thing.” And then he grinned. If the perfidy of the Democrats is going to be the message of Rove’s book, I don’t think it is going to be a big success. George W. Bush was president of the United States. He had the power to set the tone for his administration. The first thing any critic is going to write is that Bush, having lost the popular vote by half a million votes, and having been installed as president by a controversial Supreme Court decision, nonetheless resolved to govern as if he had a mandate. The critics will point out that Dick Cheney said [and I now quote from Angler, the seminal book about the Cheney vice-presidency]: As President-elect Bush has made very clear, he ran on a particular platform that was very carefully developed. It’s his program. It’s his agenda. And we have no intention at all of backing off of it….[elipses original] Now the suggestion that because this was a close election we should fundamentally change our beliefs, [is] silly. Cheney expressed a similar sentiment on Meet the Press: “I think there’s no reason in the world we can’t do exactly what Governor Bush campaigned on.” This was a mistake. It was arrogance when humility was called for. And the arrogance lasted for six years, until the Bush administration came to a premature end with the 2006 congressional elections. I don’t see how Rove can make a convincing case that Bush’s administration was undone by the refusal of Washington to accept Bush as president. The administration was undone by its penchant for overreaching, by its thirst for unlimited executive power, including Rove’s personal agenda for a permanent Republican majority. My advice to Karl is: Don’t write a book to settle scores. Just remember, a lot of people have scores to settle with you. Your critics from Austin to Boston will be lining up to review that book. Your only defense is to write a book that is credible and fair.
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