Karl Rove, the political mastermind known as "Bush's brain" (was that his voice the president was hearing through his listening device during the debates?) will now occupy a position called "deputy chief of staff."[1]  --  While White House officials said his involvement with international affairs would be "limited," these limits will be hard to define, given his mandate to, in Scott McClellan's words, "coordinate" the National Security Council, the National Economic Council and other advisory panels to ensure that their ideas were "complementary."[2]  --  The Bush White House has turned the "knowledge is power" dictum on its head, and embraced the view that "power is knowledge" -- a perspective that justifies Rove's promotion.  --  "He is one of the president's most trusted advisors, who has played an integral role in the strategy and policy development for a long time," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.  "So now he has a more expanded role."  --  There is nothing new in this.  In Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, Paul O'Neill described the attitude:  "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'  I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism.  He cut me off.  'That’s not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued.  'We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.  And while you’re studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" ...




By James Harding and Holly Yeager

Financial Times (UK)
February 8, 2005


WASHINGTON -- Karl Rove, the man President George W. Bush dubbed the “architect” of his 2004 re-election victory, was granted expanded powers on Tuesday to oversee not just politics but White House policy.

The promotion both reinforces Mr. Rove's reputation as an official of unparalleled influence in Washington and underscores how the political agenda of the Bush presidency has been transformed by his re-election.

In addition to responsibility for political affairs and strategic initiatives, Mr Rove has been appointed deputy chief of staff to co-ordinate policy, both domestic and international.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, suggested Mr. Rove's chief focus would be economic policy, domestic policy and international economic policy, leaving national security and intelligence to Joe Hagin, the other deputy chief of staff.

But Mr. McClellan also made clear that Mr. Rove's promotion positions him to get involved in any and all administration business:

“Karl will continue to oversee the strategy to advance the president's agenda. He will also co-ordinate policy within the various White House councils . . . the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council,” Mr. McClellan said. The responsibilities will only add to the aura of Mr. Rove, the most storied figure in the Bush White House, who was the subject of two biographies and one documentary film during the first term.

Mr. Rove is a lifelong political operator who worked in his youth for George H.W. Bush and then moved to Texas, where he established a direct-mail business, built a highly successful political consultancy which transformed the political complexion of the state then recruited his most famous client, first governor and now President Bush.

Democrats view Mr. Rove with suspicion, questioning the ethics of his tactics and motives. Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the appointment “shows that Bush cares more about political positioning than honest policy discussions.”

Mr. Rove is neither an economic nor a national security expert, Mr. McAuliffe said, but “an ideological strategist.”

The transfer of Mr. Rove also reflects the realities in the post-election White House, as priorities have shifted from electioneering to securing the president's legacy on the policy front.

The White House also announced that Michael Gerson -- the man nicknamed “The Scribe” by Mr. Bush and who fashioned the president's most rousing speeches, heavy on biblical phraseology and conservative ideals -- would move from chief speech-writer to assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning. Bill McGurn, a former editorial writer at the Wall Street Journal, has taken over as chief speech-writer.


The Nation

By Peter Wallsten

Los Angeles Times
February 9, 2005


WASHINGTON -- White House advisor Karl Rove, described by President Bush as the architect of his reelection last year, will have an expanded second-term role in policymaking as he seeks to build a lasting Republican majority.

The White House announced Tuesday that, in addition to his job as Bush's chief political strategist, Rove will become deputy chief of staff -- giving him new power over policy councils that advise Bush on national security, economics and the environment.

Rove's role on foreign policy issues would be "limited," White House officials said.

"He is one of the president's most trusted advisors, who has played an integral role in the strategy and policy development for a long time," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "So now he has a more expanded role."

McClellan said Rove, 54, would "coordinate" the National Security Council, the National Economic Council and other advisory panels to ensure that their ideas were "complementary."

But Democrats, who have accused Rove of orchestrating political trickery both in his days as a GOP operative in Texas and in Bush's national campaigns, were quick to criticize the appointment.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe called Rove an "ideological strategist" and said that expanding his duties "shows that Bush cares more about political positioning than honest policy discussions."

"Bush knows that Rove is neither an economic nor a national security expert," McAuliffe said.

Dubbed "Bush's brain" by one biographer, Rove has emerged as a high-profile and controversial figure since the 2000 campaign -- a strategist who has been criticized for politicizing policymaking in executive branch agencies.

Democrats accused him of presenting a slide show on political strategy to federal agency managers in the months before the 2002 midterm elections. That slide presentation said GOP candidates should focus on the war on terrorism to score political points -- a position that drew scorn from Democrats.

In 2004, Rove was credited with boosting turnout among the Republican base through an unprecedented grass-roots approach built on high-tech databases and voter targeting. The party also increased its share of the vote among African Americans, Latinos, women and Jews.

Now, GOP strategists say, Rove is focused on a "realignment" strategy built on second-term policy initiatives that are designed in part to lure new voters to the Republican fold -- a goal that could be aided by his new job title.

Rove becomes one of the most influential advisors to serve a president. Experts said it was unusual for any White House aide other than the chief of staff to straddle the worlds of politics and domestic and foreign policy.

"This now puts Rove not necessarily in the king's seat, but on stage with the king," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist who has written books on the executive branch.

"This move formalizes and solidifies the preeminence of Karl Rove as the political architect not only of the campaign but of the presidency, and it represents the centralization of political control in the administration in the very highest echelons of the White House."

One former Republican White House staffer, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of discussing Rove, called Rove's new job "the mother of all portfolios."

"I hope he likes going to meetings," the former aide joked.

William B. Lacy, White House political director under President Reagan and now director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, said that Rove had amassed a rare degree of influence -- particularly given that he did not hold the chief of staff title.

But, Lacy said, now that Bush plans to run a campaign-style operation promoting his plans to transform Social Security and other programs during the next four years, the decision makes sense.

"There's nobody better than Karl to coordinate that and develop a strategy for it on these big policy issues," Lacy said.