I've read several things on Rove's departure today, and many are speculating on the "real" reasons—which may be a long time revealing themselves—he's leaving. I don't much care, as it won't effect much as far as I can tell. If nothing else, I think it's an indication that Rove's usefullness was waning.
Thankfully, Andrew Sullivan is back from his vacation (too long for me) and sums up the Rove Legacy better than anything else I've read. Here's the whole thing:
The man's legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power - which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government's reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent. Why? Because Rove preferred to divide the country and get his 51 percent, than unite it and get America's 60. In a time of grave danger and war, Rove picked party over country. Such a choice was and remains despicable.
Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war - and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency. His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government has turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so. It will take another generation to recover from the toxins he has injected, with the president's eager approval, into the political culture and into the conservative soul.
The only problem is if Sullivan and others let the truths of that passage walk out the door with Rove. Pinning all that on Rove, and Rove alone, lets Bush off the hook. Bush was a willing participant and the prime benificiary of those actions, and the same "party over country" condemnation deserves to be clearly attached to him as well.