Karl Rove, the former political adviser to President George W. Bush, has a new book out, called “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.” I interviewed him Thursday afternoon, talking to him by phone from Capitol Hill while taking a break from running around trying to figure out if Democrats are going to be able to pass a health care bill.
Rove had already done interviews with several media outlets, and the material in his book had been written about for days. The topics of the Iraq War and his involvement in the Valerie Plame scandal, were particularly well-trodden ground before I talked to the man known as “Bush’s Brain” and “The Architect.”
So I wanted, in my interview, to try and unpack just a little bit of what is underneath Rove’s usually teflon and statistic-spouting (see below) exterior, and understand the man himself. And I wanted to push him on spending by the Bush administration, which is the reason many conservatives grew disillusioned with Bush while he was in office and blame him now for not doing more to solve the nation’s growing problem with unfunded mandates.
Here is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation:
THE DAILY CALLER: So I’m not sure what there is left to talk about. You tell me. What parts of the book do you think have been focused on more than you thought they would, or more than they should have been, and what has been under-discussed so far in all these interviews?
ROVE: The family stuff, the Chapter One and Chapter Two stuff, has been – particularly Chapter One – has been dealt with a lot more than I would have thought. I’m a little surprised at how much attention it’s got. Some of it may be that people have been reading the book from the front to the back and so that’s the, you know, they’re only a quarter of the way or half of the way through and that’s the thing that grabbed their attention, but I’ve been surprised by it.
THE DC: Right.
ROVE: Things that have been – you know, we spent a lot of time on Iraq, a lot of time on Katrina. What’s interesting to me is we haven’t dipped into a lot on the – you know, I have a chapter called, you know, “What Bipartisanship?” in which I recount how antagonistic Democrats were. I’m surprised that hasn’t gotten more attention. The trench battles where Harry Reid calls up and says, “We’ll cut you a deal, you withdraw three names of your appellate nominees, and we’ll try and round up the votes to approve the other two. You pick which. They’re all morally unfit to serve on the bench, but you pick three, and we’ll try to help you on two. To me, it’s just sort of unbelievably atrocious, and you know, it’s gotten a couple mentions. You know, it’s a big book, it’s a big, sprawling book, so when you’re having a seven-minute or a nine-minute interview on television, it’s a little hard to hit anything but the, you know, sort of high points.
THE DC: I have a sort of a big picture question, I’ll ask it in a minute here. First of all what is the “fight” that’s in the title?
ROVE: Well, I became of age when it was apparent Republicans were on the descendancy and liberalism on the ascendancy. You know, Nixon loses to Kennedy and Goldwater gets trounced by [Johnson]. And yet we’ve been in the fight over the, you know, between the sort of, the conservative and the liberal impulse, and our politics has been straining to be free of the New Deal coalition and define a new equilibrium and, you know, I moved to Texas and we had nothing. We had thirteen members of the Texas House and two out of the Texas Senate, so I’ve been involved in a lot of political combat.