Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rove leaves a tarnished legacy

Karl Rove leaves the White House in anything but victory. His legendary reputation was seriously diminished by the Republican defeat in the 2006 midterm elections, and has been eroded almost every day since then, as President George W. Bush has struggled through his second term.

There probably was no better sign of how far this White House has fallen than at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames this weekend, a gathering of probably the most committed Republicans in the country. This was where Rove displayed his political skills to the country in 1999, steering Bush to a victory in a nonbinding poll that nonetheless cemented his position as his party's prohibitive favorite.

Bush's name was barely mentioned in Ames on Saturday, much less Rove's. The winner of the contest, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, offered a pretty grim verdict on the last seven years in Washington when he said, "If there has ever been a time that we needed to see change in Washington, it is now."

Gone are the days when Republican candidates were expected to fight to become the heir to either the Bush legacy or Rove himself.