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Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential Hardcover – February 21, 2003
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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.
Top customer reviews
I liked the book as it re veiled how George W. Bush became President in a quasi competent way.
I would recommend this book to anyone who would be serious about the antics of Rove and how he illegitimately influences our country.
"Bush's Brain" is the tale of two stories. The first story is of how Karl Rove came to be the "Co-President" of America. It traces Rove's history from his days as a skilled high school debater at Olympus School, Salt Lake City, Utah, to his days at college as a Young Republican to his career in Austin, Texas as the proprietor of direct mail business and political consultant for the Republican Party. The book describes in detail Rove's personality make-up, his uncanny photographic memory, his insatiable to desire to win at any cost and his lack of a moral compass. Karl Rove is a political machine, forged from the fire of a dysfunctional, broken family and fueled with the blood of blind loyalty to the party.
The second story is how Karl Rove became Rasputin to the Bush tsardom. George Herbert Walker Bush selected Karl Rove in 1973, to become chairman of the College Republican National Committee. I say selected instead of elected because apparently, the election for said position was in contest and had to be decided by then chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Bush 41. In the end, the decision to choose Rove over his opponent was driven by blind loyalty to the PARTY. In the opinion of former President Bush, Rove's opponent had been disloyal and therefore branded a traitor. Rove got the gig and the message...only loyalty matters.
During this time, Rove was also hired by Bush 41 as a special assistant at the RNC. It was then when he met strapping young lad George W. Bush. W. would come down on weekends from Harvard Business School to borrow the car and cruise Washington DC for...well God only knows and it was Rove's job to hand him the keys to the Gremlin (yes, the car in question was a gremlin). Rove saw in young W. the makings of a marketable candidate and thus their parasitic friendship was formed. Bush would eventually go into public service has his namesake legacy would have it and Rove would have his racehorse to carry him into the White House.
A good chunk of the book deals with Rove's time in Texas and the campaigns he worked on (other than W's.) This is the meat of the book and the most telling part about the danger Karl Rove represents. The chapters entail Rove's use of dirty tricks to not only beat opponents for offices of public service, but to systematically end peoples careers and drive them out of politics. On Rove's trail of tears lie the careers of folks like Mike Moeller and Pete McRae whose political careers ended not in a lost election but a federal penitentiary. Other battered and broken political nemeses were Jim Hightower, Ann Richards and John McCain.
I thought the book was fair to Rove and President Bush. It neither treats the President like a moron nor does it explicitly say Rove is running the government. There are many points where the authors take great pains to show President Bush as a thoughtful, though not intellectually curious, decision maker and leader of men. They also paint a somewhat sympathetic portrait of Rove as someone who has obvious psychological failings but happens to have a job where that sort of ethical absence is a virtue to be rewarded.
The only part of the book I thought was ridiculous was the section that dealt with the Iraq war. First off, the authors go out of their way to rationalize their belief that the war was absolutely a bad idea. That's not the point of the book. I mean, there's only 100's of books that deal exclusively with that subject alone and they present arguments to back up their thesis. The authors tended to editorialize their opinions and present only their side of the argument. Now most people who will end up reading this book will already be of the belief that the war was a terrible idea so it won't offend them. It bothered me however because I felt like a pretty balanced accounting of the Bush Administration was marred by obvious partisanship and bias. It didn't ruin the book because it's only maybe two chapters but it was annoying. The authors should have presented what they thought were the facts of Rove's involvement in the Iraq War and then let the reader decide from there.
Overall I thought the book was interesting and it is certainly a cautionary tale of how political consultants can shape and control the political battleground. The lesson to be learned here is that the electorate has to be a bit more savvy to the machinations of people like Rove or only unaccountable people like Rove will end up running the government...if they aren't already.
Most recent customer reviews
The book opens with a hymn of praise for Mr. Rove's skill at dirty tricks.Read more