Why? To spend more time with his family, of course.
"I just think it's time," he says, adding that he first floated the idea of leaving to Mr. Bush a year ago. His friends confirm he had been talking about it with others even earlier. But Democrats took Congress, and he didn't want to depart on that sour note. He then thought he'd leave after the State of the Union, but the Iraq and immigration fights beckoned. Finally, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told senior White House aides that if they stayed past a certain point, they were obliged to remain to Jan. 20, 2009.Trust me, Karl, we won't myth you at all.
"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," Mr. Rove says. His son attends college in San Antonio, and he and his wife, Darby, plan to spend much of their time at their home in nearby Ingram, in the Texas Hill Country.
Mr. Rove doesn't say, though others do, that this timing also allows him to leave on his own terms. He has survived a probe by a remorseless special counsel, and lately a subpoena barrage from Democrats for whom he is the great white whale. He shows notable forbearance in declining to comment on prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who dragged him through five grand jury appearances. He won't even disclose his legal bills, except to quip that "every one has been paid" and that "it was worth every penny."
What about those who say he's leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? "I know they'll say that," he says, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob." He also knows he'll continue to be a target, even from afar, since belief in his influence over every Administration decision has become, well, faith-based.
"I'm a myth. There's the Mark of Rove," he says, with a bemused air. "I read about some of the things I'm supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh." He says the real target is Mr. Bush, whom many Democrats have never accepted as a legitimate president and "never will."
In the interview with Gigot, Mr. Rove has a sunny outlook for the war -- "Iraq will be in a better place" -- and that the nomination of Hillary Clinton will give the GOP a third term in the White House. Mr. Rove's prognostications for the 2006 elections -- aka "THE math" -- proved to be wrong, so perhaps one of the reasons he's leaving is because he's lost his touch and he's become a liability. Or perhaps, despite his spin to the contrary, he knows when to leave a sinking ship and he doesn't want to be around to take the blame when the last whimper is heard from this monumental failure of a presidency for the which he bears much of the responsibility.
How typical of him to slink off out of the bunker and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.