In my younger days I belonged for several years to the Virginia Jaycees, the Virginia arm of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. Organized in 1920 by Henry Geissenbier as a way to provide leadership training through community service, the Jaycees not only continue to give folks ages 18-(now)40 a way to develop leadership skills, it also provides for those who are looking a chance to see how people react in times of stress and when faced with challenging circumstances.
I enjoyed my time in the Jaycees. I met some great people (BFIV is a case in point) not to mention found SWMBO while on the verge of food poisoning from eating some ham that had turned. Let me tell you, nothing can get you can cast your inhibitions aside and lay it on the line like the onset of massive digestive turmoil!
I also learned a lot. As a Jaycee I witnessed the truth adversity does not build character, but it reveals character. I saw that folks want to work together if properly led and motivated. I also saw an unusual practice that recurred every spring…perhaps known as jumping off a horse in the middle of a stream. Given Karl Rove’s recent resignation, I wonder if he was ever a Jaycee.
Jaycee chapters back in the day had a program year of May 1 to April 30 (since changed to a calendar year). Officers served a year term. Sometime in February the chapter president would have to really crack the whip to get the officers to forcefully come down the homestretch and finish with vigor. I called them “February Dreamers”. Why? Because they started dreaming about the offices they would hold next year, and were more concerned with that which was about to start rather than what they were involved in.
That is where the Karl Rove departure comes in. He says he has to do it for his family, and notes that it is not unusual for staffers to leave in the last two years of an 8 year sting in the oval office. The same type of exodus happened with Reagan and with Clinton.
However, unlike those predecessors “W” has about a year and a half left in office. We have troops overseas in an expedition that Rove promoted. The country is at war with terrorism. Rove is on the fringes of a variety of investigations from firing US Attorney’s to the l’affaire Valerie Plame. Whatever your take on the GWBush presidency, it was created in no small part by Karl Rove. Having been such an architect in its construction both as a political consultant and as a presidential advisor, one would think he would have the cajones to stick it out.
Ah, but such thinking would not come from a person who had been a Jaycee! Rove is like all those “February dreamers” who started to dream about “next year” rather than finish this year strong. I have seen a variety of Karl Rove’s. Some were good, others less so, but they all lost focus on the task at hand and started worrying about future events instead of working and living in the present.
Now, as back then, I think the “February Dreamers” were essentially AWOL, and did a disservice to themselves and to the organization. Frankly, I think the same thing of Karl Rove. I have no doubt he is tired, and I have no doubt that some think he has earned himself some time off. Others are probably annoyed he did not leave some time back.
I think he should have stayed the course, much as he is so wont to urge others to do. Why? Because he is “The Architect”. More than anyone since the Nixon White House Rove had a huge role in both the electoral and the administrative side of the house. To paraphrase my late grandmother, Rove was in charge of both “gettin’ it” and “doin’ it”. Neither in my experience nor in my reading can I find a single person in this country who enjoyed so much influence in both arenas.
Rove should stay on, and walk out of the Oval office arm in arm with Bush on January 20, 2009. Bush may have been the blacksmith swinging the hammer, but Rove was the fellow in the foundry who made the hammer, and made it to his (not necessarily Bush’s) specifications based on his take for the policy or political needs of the Bush White House. That kind of involvement suggests a continued commitment.
Karl Rove is a February Dreamer, like many I saw in the Jaycees. He is bailing out in the homestretch of an administration he built to dream instead of future conquests…and I fear he will learn what all the February Dreamer’s ultimately learned-that if you don’t finish this year strong, a lot of folks don’t take you as seriously next year.