Courage and Consequence:
My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, by Karl Rove
(Click for Amazon book review)
Massscorecard.org BOOK REVIEW:
This book is an apologia for the Bush presidency, by the man who has been called "Bush's Brain." If you want a "tell-all" book about insider gossip, look elsewhere; Rove admits imperfections in the Bush presidency, but he is overwhelmingly positive about its policies, its morality, and its legacy.
Rove is unapologetic and positive about nearly everything in the Bush White House. And anything bad that happens, Rove blames on the Democrats, without any apology that perhaps some bipartisanship might have averted the negative outcome. For example, Hurricane Katrina is considered by history to comprise a series of Bush blunders, which continue to cause suffering to this day, and to which Rove dedicates an entire chapter. Rove considers the entire incident to be a bureaucratic snafu caused by Democratic elected officials who would not let the federal authorities in to do their job. Rove says the Democratic mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic governor of Louisiana were "overwhelmed and overmatched by events." (p. 446). Rove cites "posse comitatus," which requires state authorization for federal intervention, as the reason Bush could not act. But he also cites Gov. Blanco asking Bush to "send everything you've got", which sure sounds to me like state authorization. Rove says Bush delayed until Blanco could be more specific -- that delay caused thousands of deaths -- isn't that the essence of bad-natured bureaucracy? One wonders what would have happened if Blanco were Republican.
The underlying theme of this book is that Bush did everything right, including the Iraq War. Rove's unapologetic nature extends to that subject in great detail. Rove describes when reports came in that WMD did not exist in Iraq (p. 343), as was the pretext for going to war -- but he still claims they indeed had WMDs (page 339), or maybe they were dispersed (p. 339), or maybe sent to Syria, or something -- like Bush, he will not admit a mistake.
Rove is most defensive about "Plamegate", which is the core reason that pundits will want to read this book. "Plamegate" refers to Valerie Plame, a CIA operative who was identified publicly by Rove. Identifying a CIA operative publicly is treason, which is a crime identified in the Constitution, and hence one may consider it a more serious crime than murder. Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, was sent by Bush to Niger to investigate whether Saddam had purchased uranium. Wilson reported that Saddam had not; the report became public and was a major factor in disproving Saddam's WMDs. Some press reported that Rove outed Plame to get back at Wilson; a federal grand jury investigation followed for several years, ultimately clearing Rove but convicted Bush adviser Scooter Libby. Rove dedicates four chapters to this incident and its repercussions:
You can read our excerpts and judge for yourself if Rove was guilty of outing Plame. The key aspects are on page 320, where Rove admits hearing the state secret that Plame is a CIA agent; and on page 329, where Rove admits confirming that fact to the press. Yet he claims that doing so is not a crime (page 435) and also claims that "Joe Wilson was wrong". Joe Wilson was wrong, Rove claims, on disproving the infamous "sixteen words" from Bush's State of the Union speech, where Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa." Wilson's report disproved that claim, and hence undermined a major rationale for invading Iraq. Plame, and then Rove, took the heat; Rove describes it here in great detail.
- 20. Joe Wilson's Attack
- 21. Bush Was Right On Iraq
- 22. The Special Prosecutor and Me
- 28. Anything For a Scalp
Overall, reading this book is de rigeur for the pundit set, and for anyone interested in talking about the Bush presidency, or about the current defense for the Iraq war or any other Bush-related issues. It's a long book and often tedious, but does not suffer from the usual problem of retrospective books, where the "play-by-play" is just way too detailed. Rove was involved with so much that he need not overplay one incident or another -- it's all here!
-- Jesse Gordon, Massscorecard editor-in-chief, December 2010
| Massscorecard.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
George W. Bush: 2001: First president to give speech on bioethical issue.
George Bush Sr.: Shifted towards pro-life camp seeing callousness of abortion.
George Bush Sr.: Slowly moved along continuum to pro-life.
Budget & Economy|
Paul O`Neill: Jan. 2000: business leaders say we're headed into recession.
Barney Frank: 2003: Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac are "fundamentally sound".
Charles Schumer: 2003: no need to curtail Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac mission.
Chris Dodd: 2003: Threatened filibuster on Fannie & Freddie regulation.
George W. Bush: 2001: Warned of problems with Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac.
Rahm Emanuel: Served on Freddie Mac board prior to 2005 economic meltdown.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 2004: override San Francisco gay marriages with state ruling.
George W. Bush: Coalition for governor: Juntos Podemos & Amigos de Bush.
George W. Bush: 2003: Opposed MA decision legalizing gay marriage.
John Lewis: Gay marriage restrictions stink same as racism.
Mitt Romney: 2003: Battled legislatively against legalizing gay marriage.
Trent Lott: 1980s: Defended prohibition on college interracial dating.
Dick Gephardt: 2001 corporate tax cut a non-starter among Dems.
George W. Bush: 2001 corporate tax cut to stimulate economy.
George W. Bush: Post-9-11: Terrorism no longer just a law enforcement matter.
George W. Bush: Avoided DUI publicity to keep daughters from their own DUI.
George W. Bush: 2000 election eve DUI revelation got campaign off-message.
Arne Duncan: NCLB is desperately underfunded.
George W. Bush: Use federal government as lever for local reform.
Jim Jeffords: 2001 defection based on special education funding.
George W. Bush: Education is the civil rights struggle of our time.
George W. Bush: No Child Left Behind resonated with parents' natural desire.
George W. Bush: 2000: Targeted suburban couples with children via NCLB.
George W. Bush: As Texas Gov., made reading initiative a top priority.
Energy & Oil|
Al Gore: 2000: stabilize prices with release from Petroleum Reserve.
George W. Bush: $6.5B to erase national parks' repair backlog.
Jim Jeffords: 2001 issues: cows, co-workers, & committees (Enviro. chair).
Al Gore: Against mountaintop mining in WV; for less water flows in MO.
Al Gore: OpEd: Hurt in 2000 debates by fibbing & sighing.
George W. Bush: For mountaintop mining in WV; for more water flows in MO.
George W. Bush: Katrina: Posse Comitatus Act prevents feds from sending help.
John McCain: Attacked ethanol subsidies in Iowa, to ne heard in N.H.
Kathleen Blanco: Sept. 2005 Katrina: "Send everything you've got!".
Families & Children|
Bob Dole: Are you comfortable leaving your kids with Clinton, or me?
Bob Dole: 1996: Are you comfortable leaving kids with me or Clinton?
George W. Bush: Restore dignity and honor to the White House.
John McCain: Adopted daughter from Mother Teresa's Bangladesh orphanage.
George W. Bush: 9-11 insight: new struggle against global totalitarianism.
George W. Bush: Fast-track needed for US global economic leadership.
Robin Hayes: District full of textile mills needs trade barriers.
Anthony Kennedy: Key to 2000 Bush v. Gore: don't change FL law.
Antonin Scalia: Key to 2000 Bush v. Gore: don't count new discoveries.
Sandra Day O`Connor: 2000 Bush v. Gore: Florida court ignored Supreme Court.
George W. Bush: If you want someone to tinker with the system, that's not me.
George W. Bush: 2004: Called for end to all independent group ads.
Milton Friedman: Government power must be dispersed.
Tom Ridge: More effective to have one Cabinet DHS, not a dozen agencies.
Dick Cheney: 2006: Accidentally shot friend during hunting trip.
George W. Bush: Shot a protected bird species; confessed and paid $130 fine.
Barack Obama: OpEd: cut $622B in Medicare despite claiming no cuts.
George W. Bush: 2000: market-based program for Medicare Rx drugs.
Al Gore: 2000: suppressed 1,400 overseas military ballots.
George W. Bush: Bush Doctrine: you're with us or you're with the terrorists.
George W. Bush: 9-11: Never said "go shopping"; but "participate in economy".
George W. Bush: Enhanced interrogation never crossed line into torture.
Joseph Lieberman: 2000: Tried & failed to review Florida military ballots.
Lyndon Johnson: 1964 Daisy ad: We must love each other or we must die.
Nancy Pelosi: Attended 2002 briefing on enhanced interrogation techniques.
Tom Daschle: Post-9-11: Counseled Bush to avoid using term "war".
John Kerry: 1971: Accused US forces of rape & carnage in Vietnam.
John Kerry: 2003: Voted for $87B for Iraq before voting against it.
Max Cleland: OpEd: Lost because more liberal than constituency.
George W. Bush: Ended "catch-and-release" policy.
Elaine Chao: 2001: require unions to report how membership dues are spent.
John F. Kennedy: 1962: National security excludes unions at FBI & CIA.
Principles & Values|
Al Gore: 2000 recount strategy: count undervotes in just 4 counties.
Bill Clinton: 2001: outgoing staff removed "W" from computer keyboards.
Daniel Coats: 2000: top prospect for secretary of defense.
Dick Gephardt: 2000: Questioned whether Bush presidency is legitimate.
Gale Norton: 1996: failed in Colorado senate GOP primary bid.
George W. Bush: FL recount strategy: Follow law as it stood on Election Day.
George W. Bush: 2000 OpEd: By any count, Bush would have won Florida.
Jeb Bush: Returned home to deal with 2000 post-election crisis.
Newt Gingrich: 1998: Resigned after election loss of House seats.
Rev. Jesse Jackson: Led Florida street protests post-2000-election.
Bob Dole: 1996: Won Texas presidential vote, with Bush's help.
Condoleezza Rice: Played piano as child at church where father was pastor.
Dick Cheney: Selected as Bush VP for having experience & no ambitions.
Don Siegelman: 2005: Convicted for soliciting $500,000 bribe.
George Bush Sr.: 1973: Heal rift after Karl Rove elected as College GOP Chair.
George Bush Sr.: 1973: Appointed Karl Rove as chair of College Republicans.
George Bush Sr.: 1974: Considered as Ford VP; 1976: formed presidential PAC.
George Bush Sr.: 1976: Considered for V.P. by Ford.
George Bush Sr.: 1988 OpEd: "Born with a silver foot in his mouth".
George W. Bush: Pioneers: each raises $100K in campaign donations.
George W. Bush: Different kind of Republican, who attracted Hispanics.
George W. Bush: 1998: "Front Porch" campaign in pre-primary year.
George W. Bush: 1999 Announcement speech: usher in the responsibility era.
George W. Bush: Christ as favorite philosopher reached ordinary churchgoers.
George W. Bush: 2000: Uninvolved with racist email attack on McCain in SC.
John Kerry: Attempted to filibuster Sam Alito Supreme Court nomination.
John McCain: Stole McCain's label as "Reformer with Results".
John Warner: 1976: Ran for Senate while married to Elizabeth Taylor.
John Warner: Married to Elizabeth Taylor; speechwriter is Karl Rove.
Kay Bailey Hutchison: Democrats abolished her position after elected as Treasurer.
Rick Perry: Elected Democrat; switched to run statewide as Republican.
Ronald Reagan: 1980: Won Texas by 14 points via local community organizing.
Ronald Reagan: Texas 1980: walloped Carter-Mondale by nearly 14 points.
Ronald Reagan: 1984: I won't exploit my opponent's youth & inexperience.
Ross Perot: 1994: Endorsed Democrat Richards over Bush for TX governor.
Samuel Alito: OpEd: Painfully shy; but can explain views to non-lawyers.
Saxby Chambliss: OpEd: 2002 attack ad was effective because it was factual.
George W. Bush: Why be for reform if you can't talk about it?
George W. Bush: Take on risky tasks to forestall worse later.
George W. Bush: 2003: Progressive indexing would eliminate 2/3 of shortfall.
Gordon Harold Smith: No progressive indexing and no private accounts.
Olympia Snowe: No progressive indexing and no private accounts.
Steve Forbes: Endorsed increased retirement age; then attacked Bush for it.
George W. Bush: 2001: Enough is enough; American people deserve tax relief.
Barack Obama: OpEd: Reassured voters that increases only affect the rich.
George Allen: OpEd: Internet allows candidates' own words against them.
War & Peace|
Colin Powell: 2003 UN speech focused on a call for resolve on Iraq.
Donald Rumsfeld: US & USSR invasions differed: we don't covet their land.
George W. Bush: Reason for invading Iraq: Saddam was a threat.
George W. Bush: Saddam posed unique threat post-9-11.
Al Gore: 2002: we know Saddam has secret supplies of WMDs.
George W. Bush: OpEd: Iraq war came from post-9-11 terrorism mindset.
George W. Bush: 2006: Deploy troops out of bases and into hotspots.
Howard Dean: OpEd: Anti-war attitude came across as anti-everything.
John Hostettler: 2006 ad bragged that he voted against Iraq war.
John Kerry: 2004: attacked Rove and Cheney for draft deferments.
John Kerry: 2004: Swift Boat ad "Sellout" devastated campaign.
John Rockefeller: OpEd: Voted for Iraq use-of-force, without questioning intel.
Joseph Lieberman: OpEd: over-support of GWOT is both virtue and vice.
Rahm Emanuel: 2006: Petraeus deserves Nobel Prize for creative statistics.
Richard Nixon: 1972 convention speech marred by antiwar riots & teargas.
Richard Nixon: 1972: Mobbed by anti-war hippies at Nixon convention speech.
Welfare & Poverty|
George W. Bush: By 2007, 11% of $20B in annual grants went to FBOs.
George W. Bush: 2002 National Service agenda: community & compassion abroad.
The above quotations are from Courage and Consequence:
My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, by Karl Rove.
2010 Election Analysis:
- Against All Odds, by Scott Brown
- The Obamians, by James Mann
- Power to the People, by Gov. Tommy Thompson
- 2010: Take Back America, by Dick Morris
- 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future, by Marco Rubio
- Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove
- American Conspiracies, by Gov. Jesse Ventura
- Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
- The FairTax Book, by Neal Boortz and Rep. John Linder
- The Test of our Times, by Gov. Tom Ridge
- Saving Freedom, by Sen. Jim DeMint
- Giving, by Pres. Bill Clinton
- Going Rogue, by Gov. Sarah Palin
- Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert Bork
- Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, by Pres. Ronald Reagan
- Third World America, by Arianna Huffington
- Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky
- Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, by James Mann (March 2004)
- Earlier election analyses