Or so the theory went. In reality, of course, Rove's not quite the legend he thinks he is, and interest in his book was tepid, at best. One recent report noted that Rove made the rounds with of publishers with a power lawyer at his side, and quickly found that there would be no bidding war. An executive at one of the houses said, "It's very, very slow."
Rove ended up with his deal late last week, but it's not exactly a blockbuster.
GOP strategist Karl Rove has agreed to write about his years as an adviser to President Bush in a deal worth over $1.5 million with former colleague Mary Matalin's conservative imprint at Simon & Schuster, officials said Friday.One publisher was particularly uncharitable, saying Rove "doesn't have the personality" to land a major deal.
That may very well be part of it, but I think there's a more realistic explanation for Rove's book deal getting marked down.
First, he's tragically dishonest, so his book is unlikely to be informative. In fact, I'm fairly confident I can summarize the book now: "Bush was extraordinary; his critics were awful; and the media was unfair." There, I just saved book buyers $29.95.
Second, Rove had all kinds of dirt he could dish, but publishers realize that he's far too loyal a sycophant to ever make his former boss look bad. He's the original "loyal Bushie"; the idea of him writing a juicy tell-all is absurd. The book is bound to be hagiographic.
Third, Rove's genius has been wildly exaggerated, and interest in his insights has waned in light of his failures. On Election Day 2000, it was Rove's idea to keep his candidate in California in the waning days, instead of campaigning in key battleground states. Bush lost California by a wide margin, and Rove's strategy practically cost his candidate the election. More recently, Rove's single recent responsibility was overseeing the GOP's 2006 election strategy -- and Dems won back both chambers of Congress. If congressional Republicans stopped taking him seriously as a credible political strategist in 2007, who's going to take his book seriously in 2009?
And finally, there's severe Bush fatigue. I suspect the vast majority of the nation, and even a strong number of Republicans, are anxious to see the end of the reign of error known as the Bush presidency. The idea of a fomer White House deputy chief of staff reflecting, in a sycophantic style, on eight years that most of us will prefer to forget, doesn't exactly scream, "best seller."
That said, I open the floor to a little game: come up with a name for Karl Rove's book. The possibilities are almost endless.