Veteran political reporter Walter Shapiro examines Karl Rove’s reinvention since leaving the White House in his profile in the New Republic. Shapiro dubbed Rove—who now sits at the helm of the American Crossroads “SuperPAC” and appears regularly on Fox News as a pundit—“the dominant private citizen in the Republican Party,” who is often demonized by the right and left alike.

Shapiro evaluates the “mismatch between the myth and the reality of Rove” at length and decides that while Rove has largely been praised as a political mastermind, his greatest strength might just be his fundraising aptitude. “But the more I learned about Rove, the more I was forced to consider the possibility that his major talent is something other than what everyone assumes it is,” Shapiro wrote.

The father of the direct-mail campaign, Rove has proven a deft fundraiser in the new era of campaign finance that began after the Citizens United decision. His wonky celebrity attracts fundraising dollars, which has helped American Crossroads become the nation’s largest, and therefore, most powerful SuperPAC.

“With the possible exception of outgoing Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who will be joining Crossroads when his term expires in January, no one in Republican politics is better at sitting at the head of a conference table and inspiring donors to write six- and seven-digit checks,” Shapiro wrote.