The Moose takes exception to the conventional wisdom (even his own).
The Moose has always taken the view that Rove was the indispensable man. He is critical to the direction of George W. Bush ever since he created W. as a political entity.
But, maybe the Moose is wrong (that has definitely happened before). What if Rove is a severe liability to this President? In other words, without Rove, this President might be tempted to reach out to the political center and break loose from the paradigm of polarization.
Keep in mind that Rove's great idea of social security privatization and the ownership society didn't exactly work out that well - and neither did the base pandering Schiavo episode. In short, the President is overly Rove dependent, and the fact that Karl escaped indictment is a missed opportunity for W. to venture out on his own.
The likely Rove engineered Alito nomination excites the base and probably guarantees that Bush will break the 40% mark again in popularity. But, Rovian base politics also imposes a ceiling on Bush's popularity in the upper 40's, if it reaches that high. Moreover, while Rove is comfortable fighting on values issues, Alito carries significant baggage on such economic issues as the Family and Medical Leave Act and workers rights that may alienate middle class traditionalist voters. And some suburban moderate Republican women may become squeamish over Alito's defense of husband (not "spousal") notification.
Rovian politics will result in a meager domestic legacy for this President. Besides moving the judiciary to the right, the only other domestic "achievement" will be putting America in debt to the Chinese and redistributing wealth to the wealthy - not exactly the stuff of which to achieve the realignment of the electorate.
So, the fact that Rove did not get indicted and was not forced to resign is a very bad development for this President and the Republican Party. It may now provide the Democrats the opportunity to regain control over Congress and win the White House in '08. The good news for Democrats is that Rove will still be around to steer this President toward increased political unpopularity.
But then again, maybe the Moose is wrong... --