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August 13, 2007

Rove Looking Going Away


It’s just vintage Karl,  falling on his sword while simultaneously missing the morning news cycle.  (Folding the tent early Monday — in the doggiest days of August — also makes his departure dusty old by the time newsmaker Sunday rolls around.)

In my first pass on Rove’s extrication from the White House, I reprise my favorite shot of Bush’s architect.  It’s not just for the photo, however, but the whole assemblage.  This almost two-year-old goody appeared in the NYT at the front-end of the Libby imbroglio.  It’s hard not to view it without conjuring all those shots of Rove looking at us from behind Bush’s back, realizing that what was quintessential about Rove was misdirection, games with mirrors, looking going away.

With an eye to the specific visual (and the original discussion thread), the interpretations at the time seem just as relevant to Karl’s last official day:

With all the merde raining down on Rove, there is the sense of the aid in a getaway car — projecting that confidence of the last laugh.

There is the feeling of Rove — always the puppet master (or the disembodied Oz) — in full control of his (or any) image … especially when there is a chummy White House visual corp to hand feed it to.

There is the impression that, with Karl, you always get two faces.

Also, there is the association: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  Although you can take this in many directions, it reflects how the Administration’s characters (with optical assistance from the media) were able to capture the larger media space with a pin-pointed view, completely flood that space, and project themselves way out of scale with little things like job descriptions, history, the constitution.

Finally though, one must consider this image in its full gestalt.  With the editorial thrust bearing down on Scooter Libby, what we have is a brilliant snapshot of Karl’s true gift to the Administration, conveying the ability to escape larger critical attention while remaining in full view.  As Karl exits the stage as a key (if not, the key) silent player in the scandals of the moment, is the hint to us not to forget to notice as this media Houdini once again simply pulls away?

(Update: it wasn’t until I finished this post that I noticed the NYT also featured this photo in their on-line story — see left sidebar/lead off to slideshow.  Quintessential, indeed!)

(image; Doug Mills/NYT.  October 28, 2005.  White House.  New York Times. p. A14.)

  • snowdahlia

    Odd that this leave-taking occurred just as the Atlantic’s new issue, which features a major story on Rove, hits the stands. It’s one of the most illuminating things I’ve ever read about the philosophical underpinning of this administration – about Rove’s “40-year-plan,” as it were, for Republican dominance. All things turn to dust, though, which in this case is an excellent thing.

  • KingElvis

    “Lubbock Texas,in my rearview mirror.” (Mac Davis)
    (White) House of Mirrors.
    Rove is a REFLECTION of the adminstration. – but he’s transposed in the mirror image.

  • Asta

    Why can’t you just state up front that this image is from 2006? Why do I have to chase links?
    All this stuff is making me really very tired. Could you just tell the story up front?

  • readytoblowagasket

    I think we exhausted this image the first time around.
    So on to the story, which is that Karl Rove controlled the announcement of his departure so completely that The Wall Street Journal scooped The New York Times, The Washington Post, and everyone else. Not only that, but Rove, acting as unofficial WSJ publisher-for-a-day, positioned his announcement to appear on the editorial page, not the news page. Amazing.
    I can’t really think of anyone else who’s not the publisher who could determine the placement of their own bombshell story. And I can’t imagine any public figure who would have the discipline to resist being front-page headline news.
    Rove just demonstrated how he controls the press in this country. I hate to say it’s awesome (as in inspiring awe and terror), but it is.
    No doubt there’s more to this distracting August surprise than meets the eye.

  • Gahso

    Rove isn’t anymore “going away” than Darth Vader was when his escape pod got whirled off into space when the Death Star blew up.
    This is undoubtedly the prime time to exit, both in terms of the August Monday departure, and the winding down of W’s term. Rat-stink need not go down with the ship – especially with the ‘08 elections just warming up!
    I know Karl’s been W’s buddy forever, but some cut-throat Rebublican will hire him. Shucks, even the liberals can’t help but tip the hat to Karl’s winning tactics, while simultaneously suppressing the bile rising in our throats. Who else could be so evil, yet so nimble and effective?

  • paulimorph

    hmm…optically, this image is ‘perverted’

  • James

    Having read a lot of sources regarding this story, I’m having trouble understanding why nobody’s mentioned a perfect reason for The Turdly One to announce his departure when he did: to steal the news cycle from a Republican primary campaign which never mentions his boss, except in whispers.

  • jtfromBC

    Jon Stewart’s been working overtime on Rove and Kristol both are gems, the filler in between is okay as well.

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