The dog days of August have apparently taken their toll on a couple visible public figures who have decided to hang-it-up and “spend more time with their families”, the euphemism for getting out before it all collapses around them. For Karl Rove, that decision may have come too late. For Robert Dynes it ends a fairly lackluster performance as head of the University of California, a four year stint that has been marred by falling budgets and over-inflated compensation and severance packages to UC administrators.
Although the Dynes legacy has far more limitied ramifications than Rove’s, UC President Dynes was able to survive budget cuts and the economic repositioning of the University of California with the reputation of that institution still intact. He had to reach out for more and more private money to keep the University functioning and flourishing, as the state’s contribution to the funding of its public university continues to shrink. And he did so with a modicum of success; UC still remains one of the premier institutions of higher education in the nation today.
But his tenure was also marked with scandal, especially at a time when student fees were going up and staff and faculty salaries were virtually stagnant. It was the very public revelation that dozens of mid and higher ranking University officials and administrators were receiving large compensation and severance packages without scrutiny or appropriate checks and balances that did in President Dynes tenure (and certainly didn’t help the image of the University system ). This embarassment virtually handcuffed Dynes’ efforts to seek out additional state financial support for the University system, as he was hard-pressed to justify requests for greater financial resources when high-end officials were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars as hush money for potential lawsuits or as incentive to join up or leave early.
But his tenure is mildness personified compared to the undermining of our nation’s system of government and integrity and generated by Karl Rove during his destructive tenure as chief advisor to the President of the United States.
Karl Rove’s legacy is among the most divisive and dangerous this nation has ever seen. As the mastermind of the rise of George W. Bush, a mediocre intellect (and that is being kind) into the most powerful position in the world, his savvy and brilliance cannot be denied. He took a superficial, hard-drinking and limited cowboy (or Yale frat-boy) and turned him into the leader of the Western World.
But at what price to this country?
Rove exemplified the ultra-right-wing belief that party is more important than country; that political gain is more important than doing right for the people; that a one-party country where big corporations reign and hatred and bigotry for others fans the flames of political partisanship is the goal. In the process, he has overseen an attempt to politicize and thus destroy the independence of our legal system and its pursuit of justice and fairness. His blatant effort to control the Department of Justice by overseeing the firing of U.S. Prosecutors who refused to do his political bidding in targeting selected democratic officials is now the subject of Congressional hearings-at which he has refused to testify. He has attempted to manipulate elections and replace our proudly independent system of justice and its adminstration with partisan politics driven by political hacks (such as Alberto Gonzales)
At no time in the history of our country has the Presidency and all its powers, been more politicized, more polarizing and more hostile to the people it is intended to serve. Karl Rove has been the architect of a political strategy that has divided this country more than ever before, made the special interests more powerful and the people of this country more cynical and suspicious of its government and leaders.
It is a shameful legacy. It used to be that a politician became a statesman when sworn into office. The difference was that he/she then became responsible for the good of the people he or she was elected to serve. This administration, led by Karl Rove (with the clear assent of its titular leader, George W. Bush) has taken leadership to a new low, and the public knows and senses it. Unabashedly and perhaps illegally, Rove, Bush and Cheney have attempted to divide and conquer, put party over country and over the interests of the American people.
The Dog Days of August have brought with them good news for the country with the resignation of Karl Rove. Although we still have over 500 days of George Bush to cope with, the lesson of Karl Rove must be that this country does not want the government to be dangerously and improperly politicized to the detriment of the people it serves; nor should it be. We can do better and we will. Goodbye Mr. Rove and good riddance.