- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 29, 2007

The flap over the firing of eight federal prosecutors last year may be the Democrats’ best chance to get White House political adviser Karl Rove out of their way before the 2008 elections.

“Karl Rove has been a nemesis to liberal Democrats not just for the last six years, but for a lifetime,” said Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican. “They don’t need a flap over U.S. attorneys to want his hide nailed to a fence post, but it is convenient.”

“He beats Democrats, and they hate it. He outthinks them, outflanks them and outworks them,” said Mr. Barton, who once was a client of Mr. Rove’s direct-mail company back in Texas during the 1980s.

Democrats beg to differ. In their view, Mr. Rove succeeded in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections by dirty tricks along with smart tactics, and has continued to ignore ethics, and even sometimes the law, by overpoliticizing the federal government under President Bush.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, in a speech last week, described how Mr. Rove talked in 2000 of re-creating “a 35-year era of Republican dominance, dominance that did not end until the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

“Without a trace of reserve, George Bush and Karl Rove set out to re-create an earlier era of one-party rule, and they pursued their goal by inverting, in my view, the very purpose of government,” said Mr. Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, a former top adviser to President Clinton who is now the fourth-highest ranking House Democrat.

Mr. Rove has in fact done much to lay the groundwork for long-term Republican domination, and setbacks in the 2006 midterm election have not deterred him from planning to recapture Congress in 2008.

A 28-page memo issued by Mr. Rove’s office of political affairs on Jan. 26 declared that the Democratic victory last fall was “more about rejecting Republican conduct than about supporting Democrat ideology.”

“Democrats have a precarious hold on power,” said the document, which identified Republicans in Congress who need to be defended in 2008, and Democrats who are vulnerable.

Democrats are investigating whether presentations of this document to numerous government agencies by Mr. Rove’s deputies may have violated the Hatch Act, which forbids political activity by persons acting in their official government capacities.

It is not known whether Mr. Rove will play any role in helping the eventual Republican candidate for president in 2008, but his planning for congressional elections is all the more motivation for Democrats to attack him.

Mr. Rove’s name has been mentioned frequently during the numerous hearings and press conferences related to Democratic investigations. “The Democrats have always considered Karl to be public enemy No. 1,” said a White House source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Rove declined to be interviewed for this article.

Democrat-controlled committees are currently investigating, among other things, why the Bush administration fired eight federal prosecutors last year, why it gave Mr. Rove’s political presentations to federal agencies, and why it has lost e-mails sent by top aides.

Mr. Rove’s name was mentioned 26 times during a five-hour Senate hearing in which Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified. His name came up 41 times during a seven-hour hearing with Mr. Gonzales’ former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson. By contrast, President Bush was mentioned three times during this same hearing.

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