Page 21


Machiavelli’s Shadow Ise and all of Karl R Paul Alexan BOOKS a THE CULTURE The Emperor’s Architect Has No Clothes BY LOU DUBOSE Machiavelli’s Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove By Paul Alexander Modern Times 304 pages, $25.95 y paternal greatgrandfather maintained what might have been the last functioning outhouse in Vermillion Parish, Louisiana. Years after indoor plumbing had become available in the small, rice-farming community of Indian Bayou, he refused to install an indoor flush toilet. His defense of the outhouse, according to family lore, was not informed by the cost of plumbing. “There are some processes,” he would say, “that I refuse to bring into my house.” As president, Bill Clinton was smart enough to keep James Carville and the contemptible Dick Morris out of his White House. Clinton certainly conferred with the consultants who helped him defeat the senior George Bush in 1992, but the consultantsand it’s the process, not so much the individuals, that matterwould not be part of his administration. When his first presidential campaign began, the younger George Bush insisted that Karl Rove sell his political consultancy in Austin so there could be no conflict of interest between Rove’s private business and Bush’s presidential campaign. When Bush assumed office, he made Rove a senior White House adviser and moved him into the West Wing office previously occupied by Hillary Clinton. Paul Alexander is not the first political writer to observe that, with Rove in the White House, politics took precedence over policy. Jan Reid and I made the same argument in Boy Genius, and Jim Moore and Wayne Slater made it once and again in Bush’s Brain and The Architect. While all of us described the ascent of Karl Rove, Alexander catches Rove at the other end of his career arc, telling, for the first time, the story of how Bush fired the adviser who had been with him since before he defeated Texas Gov. Ann Richards in 1994. The Rove Alexander describes is badly damaged by the administration’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina, the 2006 election that put the Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, and the U.S. attorney scandal that led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and, ultimately, Rove’s own firing. Which is not to say that Alexander ignores Rove’s backstory. Some of this material has been covered elsewhere, but the former Time magazine reporter, whose August 1999 Rolling Stone profile of George W Bush stands in contrast to SEPTEMBER 5, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27