First Colin Powell decided not to continue after the first term, then Paul Wolfowitz quit the following year, Andrew Card (chief of staff) and Donald Rumsfeld followed in 2006, and now longtime comrade Karl Rove has decided to leave.
Rove had been by Bush’s side since he ran for Texas governor back in 1993. And even though his departure will have little impact on the remainder of the presidency, the move strengthens predominant opinion regarding the president’s growing political isolation.
Where Rove’s absence will make a difference is when Bush has to answer an increasing list of questions regarding his controversial policies. From his early days Rove carried a dubious reputation of being politically cunning, and Bush will no doubt miss his smarts when faced with intimidating questioners.
For the White House though, it seems the departure has not prompted much food for thought. Rather than realise why key players have had to distance themselves from the administration, the official word seems hardly to have budged. And even in leaving, Rove did not depart from the usual rhetoric, apparently seeing no reason why Bush’s ratings would not rebound and expressing confidence in the success of the Iraq surge.
From Bush’s original team, only Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales remain. And if they stay a few more days they’ll be obliged to stay till the end – a compulsion that accelerated Rove’s exit.
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