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Karl Rove's new book has plenty of politics, but reflections on family, youth as well

Much of the talk about Karl Rove’s new book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” has focused on political strategy, Democrat-bashing and the urge to settle scores. No surprise there.

But recent reviews have also noted what Rove reveals (or fails to reveal) about himself. Writing for The Times, the always-incisive Tim Rutten observes:

More interesting are the vague and largely unexamined origins of Rove’s conservatism. As he tells it, he holds the views he does largely because he grew up in the mountain West, where self-reliance is prized, and because when, as a 10-year-old Denver boy, he put a Richard Nixon sticker on his bike, a little girl down the street whose family supported John F. Kennedy beat the heck out of him.

These anecdotes drawn from Rove’s early life bring to mind an unbeatable YouTube video, above, of a collegiate Rove working for the Republican National Committee during the Nixon era. It’s almost humorous now as Rove and others describe what were then...

... cutting-edge fundraising techniques. But it’s a rare view of Rove before he became the man who helped put George W. Bush in the White House. (Be patient, he doesn’t show up until the fourth minute -- with loose vest, tie and, in the fashion of the day, long floppy hair.)

As one watches the video, it’s hard not to think about the even younger Rove. Steve Levingston, reviewing the book for the Washington Post, also explores the theme of family in the development of the political strategist:

Hard-nosed and obsessive he is, this steely political genius who orchestrated George W. Bush’s climb, first to the Texas governor’s mansion and then to the White House. But the figure who emerges in these pages has another side. In unexpectedly tender prose, Rove tells a poignant family story, which includes his father’s long absences, his parents’ divorce and his mother’s suicide. Only after the divorce would he learn that his father was in fact his stepfather and that he and his brother were children of his mother’s earlier marriage.

Rutten, in his review, returns to family as well:

His own family was utterly dysfunctional -- his father, the book suggests, was apparently a closeted homosexual who ultimately divorced his mother, a habitual spendthrift who stole her children’s legal support payments. Only as an adult did Rove discover he was adopted. He was a champion debater in high school and became so deeply involved in electoral politics that he never took a degree, though he was just a couple of classes short. Later, when enrolled briefly at the University of Texas, he would acquire a life-long admiration for William McKinley because his mastery of new electoral technology would usher in decades of GOP dominance.

Related item: Just like Karl Rove, only young, slim, well-dressed and handsome

-- Steve Padilla

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Comments () | Archives (3)

The comments to this entry are closed.

When I just read the title of the Book written by Mr. Rove...I liked the title but, immediately other words came to mind when thinking of words I mentally associated regarding a title that start with the letter C...I settled on Cold and Corrupt... as I am a lady.

I do feel empathetic for the negatives Mr. Rove endured in childhood...but, this acknowledgment of feeling although very real and sincere does not agree with his behavior and choices.

I never really felt frightened of D.C. rather it was K.R. who always made me feel uncomfortable with the prior Administration...D.C. just compounded my feelings. I wish Peace and Kindness for Mr. Rove and also for Mr. Cheney...most sincerely. I will treat them with respect and kindness to show as an example that even if we sincerely disagree on the issues that matter most to us, such as conviction's held dear...we can always conduct ourselves with dignity and honor. This example proves to show ourselves and others that we are worthy to be treated with respect when encountering differences.For there is no need to magnify our own faults like beacon's of ignorance to the World...We must always remember we are American's...and that is something of least it used to be.

For people like me, what makes American politics so much fun are the gold mines chock full of unintentional humor – generously provided to us by the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove! Seriously, these two (and daughter Liz) are the gifts that keep giving and giving and giving!

It’s going to be a hoot in the next few years as the Bush Mob try to rewrite history in their memoirs. I imagine it will be the equivalent of trying to put a smiley face on a dead pig: “Well, looky thar, Mildred! Ain’t that purdy?”

In 2000 when the people of the United States stupidly sent George W. Bush to the White House, we effectively pointed the proverbial loaded pistol at our own collective heads. Four years later, on Election day 2004 – make no mistake about it – we pulled the trigger.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

To no one's surprise, the cable news networks aren't exactly on the same page. NBC outlets are grilling Rove and Fox News is tossing up softballs.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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