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Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential 1st Edition

69 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471423270
ISBN-10: 0471423270
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Editorial Reviews Review

Political consultants are nothing new in American politics; they are the big guns called in to work on a campaign or deal with the occasional crisis, then dismissed for another day. Not so with White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove. Due to his close personal relationship and unlimited access to George W. Bush, as well as his control of the information that reaches the president, this "permanent consultant" occupies a unique spot in Bush's inner circle and in history. "His influence marks a transcendent moment in American politics: the rise of an unelected consultant to a position of unprecedented power," write authors Moore and Slater. Since Rove is ultimately responsible to Bush only, not to American citizens, he is not required to work openly. As a result, Rove is hardly a household name, despite his considerable clout. This intriguing and important book seeks to remedy this by offering a comprehensive look at this behind-the-scenes political guru. "Karl Rove matters to all Americans, many who have never even heard his name. While the president chafes at the description of Rove as 'Bush's Brain,' he can hardly deny that every policy and political decision either goes through, or comes from, the consultant," write the authors, leading them to pose the question, "Who really runs this country?"

Rove has been involved with the Bush family for nearly 30 years and has worked on every one of George W.'s campaigns. In great detail, the book shows how Rove led Bush, a "reluctant political warrior," all the way to the White House. The portrait of Bush and Rove's relationship is fascinating. Though opposites in many respects, they are an unusually effective political team. But where Bush seemed to fall into politics, Rove has been preparing for his current job all of his life, and Bush has served as a vehicle for Rove's considerable ambitions, the authors contend. "Without Karl Rove, there would be no President George W. Bush," they write. Moore and Slater look deeply into Rove's past to offer copious evidence of his political genius, his tenacity, and his remarkable success rate in getting his clients elected. The facts also portray Rove as unethical, vindictive, and a chronic abuser of power. Loaded with revealing anecdotes and inside information, this is essential reading for anyone looking to understand not only the Bush administration, but how politics really work. --Shawn Carkonen

From Publishers Weekly

The complete subordination of public policy to political calculation is the theme of this hard-hitting biography of über-advisor Karl Rove. Drawing on their own reporting and interviews with Rove friends and foes, journalists Moore and Slater trace Rove's rise from high-school pol to high-priced, bare-knuckled campaign consultant, to his current perch as unrivaled architect of Bush administration policy. With an uncanny head for voting trends and poll results, a masterful way with a donor list and a gift for political re-packaging, Rove groomed Bush to ride the compassionate conservatism strategy straight to the White House. It's a colorful story, full of dirty tricks, misleading attack ads and sleazy whispering campaigns that drown out the issues. To the authors, Rove's "co-presidency" marks "the apotheosis of the permanent campaign," with everything from farm subsidies to steel tariffs to the saber-rattling against Iraq a part of his carefully considered mid-term election plans. The authors' line on Rove is by now conventional wisdom, but they bring it to life with a wealth of detail, painting nuanced character studies of Rove, the driven intellectual with an abrasive edge and an iron will to win, and Bush, the callow anti-intellectual with a charming air and a need for discipline and a game plan. Rove may not be the "genius" behind Bush's election they say he is-after all, there was more than campaign wizardry at work behind that contested victory-but he is a compelling character on the American political stage.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471423270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471423270
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Ross Ramsey on March 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jim Moore and Wayne Slater watched closely for a long time to understand the deeply symbiotic relationship between the two most powerful men in the country. George W. Bush is the actor and Karl Rove is the director/screenwriter in this story of Texas and U.S. politics. Bush's Brain reveals how the two men interact, how Rove mapped out and executed a strategy to propel a Dallas businessman with a famous father and a deep political pedigree into the Governor's Mansion and into the White House.
The book details -- while laying open some long-simmering political stories and controversies -- the bag of tricks Rove assembled over the years in his ambition to be at the center of the political world. Bush isn't painted as a dummy, despite the book's title, but it's clear that neither of these men would live in Washington, DC, right now without the other's skills.
Some of the best stuff here is in the history; it catches the consultant honing the tools he used later in the presidential campaign, and that he's still using today. It catches Bush before his ambition for the top political job was apparent. And it does a nice job of pulling back the curtains on the political manuevering that takes place in campaigns in Texas and everywhere else. The writers covered both men for years as reporters in the Texas press corps and then on the presidential trail in 1999 and 2000, and it's clear they've done their homework. At a time when consultants are regularly canonized just because their guy won, Slater and Moore make a case for why it's important to know as much about the consultant as about the candidate.
All that and a great read, too!
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Lee L. on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
First of all...this is a book. People are allowed to let their personal opinions come through in a book. It isn't a news channel that's supposed to be neutral. So anyone that complains about liberal or conservative bias in a book can only be unhappy that the author's views do not match their own. Karl Rove's and George W. Bush's personal views are what's governing the country, give authors a break. That applies as much to Moore and Slater as it does to Bill O'Reilly by the way.
Given the fact that there is next to no information about Karl Rove out there right now for the masses, this is an extremely well-needed book. You're not going to fully understand Bush or Rove after reading it, but there's no way that any one book could completely capture the genius that is Karl Rove. I came away with this book with a much better understanding about how decisions are made in the Bush administration because of Rove.
Slater is also an ideal person to be writing on the subject as he was a reporter on the campaign trail with Rove and Bush. Karl Rove had every opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings about his past with the author, but he almost always contradicts himself. If Rove can't get the story straight when he knows what he says will be published, you shouldn't confuse bias from an author with unpleasant realities that make your party look bad.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By interested observer on January 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The 2 Texas journalists describe Rove as cynical, vengeful, amoral, smart and effective. As one source says, Nixon without the self-destructiveness. Clinton with discipline. A binary, good-guy/bad-guy worldview.
Rove views every issue and event in terms of whether it will help or hurt his candidate. That includes trade tariffs, farm policy, the Iraq war, and whether or not to wreck the career of someone who might oppose him. Here is a quote:
"...He has created a politics of pretense. Neither Rove nor the Bush administration give the electorate credit for being sophisticated enough to call them to account. If they were concerned about being caught, Rove would reduce the president's exposure to claims of hypocrisy and broken campaign pledges. Instead, Bush signs his education bill, the "Leave No Child Behind Act" with a smiling Ted Kennedy over his shoulder. This is the TV moment the electorate remembers, a president appearing to create bipartisan coalitions and endeavoring to "change the tone" in Washington while helping our children. When Bushed proposed a federal budget, however, funding for education was cut with the president authorizing only $22 billion of the $28 billion the measure called for. American needed money to increase military strength and pay for the president's tax cut." (p296)
Bush comes across as a cipher. He is shown as shallow but not stupid. Completely unlike Rove, Bush seems to have principles beyond the expansion of his own power. But Bush's high-mindedness doesn't prevent him from having a right-hand man who uses every tool of the politics of meanness.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on April 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If Texas reporters James Moore and Wayne Slater have it right, the reasonable conclusion to reach after reading "Bush's Brain" is that Bush's leading adviser Karl Rove is a man who lives for political conquest and is devoid of principle. This is not an attack piece and the writers, well grounded in the Texas political scene, use quotes from well connected political operatives and others close to the base of political operations to tell the story of how Rove rose from Lee Atwater's running mate to acquire leadership of the Young Republicans, then launched a soaring climb that resulted in his current heady position as chief political adviser and, from many accounts, top policy formulator to the nation's chief executive.
The point that is frequently stressed is that Rove begins with the basic assumption that if you are a Republican you are a potential friend, barring primary competition involving a rival candidate, and if a Democrat an acknowledged enemy. Policies are embraced as an expedient, not as an objective for governing. A classic illustration stressed is the pressure employed by Republican Congressmen from farm belt states to change the Cuban policy supporting an embargo. Realizing that much money can be made both ways through free and open trade, many Republicans sought change and formed a committee to achieve that goal. Rove made a well publicized appearance at a Republican conclave and read these individuals the riot act, holding fast to the current policy. The reason did not stem from any philosophical position Rove holds. It relates to his belief that Bush cannot be reelected without votes from the hard Cuban right from South Florida, who oppose any dealings with Castro.
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