Bush's Brain

Who is Karl Rove?  To most people, the name means nothing.  To people with an interest in politics, he is one of George Bush's senior advisors.  And to many people intimately familiar with Texas politics, Rove is the devil incarnate.  Bush's Brain, based on the book by James C. Moore and Wayne Slater, presents Rove as the real brains behind Bush's election.  This documentary portrays Rove as a political pit bull; somebody who will use anything and everything in order to get what he wants.  This is a fascinating film about Rove, but it only tells half the story.  It tells little of what part, if any, Rove plays in the formation of policy in the Bush administration.  It does go in depth about Rove's tactics as a politician, which, if all true, are very nasty.

One could argue in the world of politics that it is the job of somebody hired to run campaigns to be as nasty as possible, given no one gets caught.  Rove certainly fits the bill.  The primary source of information is the book, and Slater and Moore are the two main talking heads.  The other ones are Texas journalists, and old politicians, both Republican and Democrat, that have crossed paths with Rove.  These are people that have known Rove for years.  They sure seem to know what they are talking about.  Especially the Texan journalists, who began noticing similarities in Bush's national and Texas races.  Both had some really nasty whispering campaigns against his opponents (Senator John Kerry and Governor Ann Richards). 

While many of the talking heads have an understandable animosity towards Rove, they are all in awe of his political prowess.  It is the lengths he is willing to go to get what he wants that is distasteful.  He is a skilled politician who shuns the spotlight, always downplaying his role when asked by the press.  He latched onto George W. Bush early, guiding him from political unknown to governor of Texas, and then to President of the United States.  He is shrewd and has the ability to think in the long term.  Rove will do things now that will affect the political landscape in five or ten years.

But it is what he does that raises the most questions.  The most notorious incident was when he allegedly bugged his own office.  Detractors claim that this was all a stunt to get the media to focus on this instead of an upcoming debate.  It worked, and the Democratic opponent eventually lost.  After the fact, the FBI discovered that the bug had a very short range and limited battery time, so if somebody did want to use it, they had to replace the battery nearly daily.  While all this is very interesting, it really says nothing about why some claim that Rove is the co-President.  He may have gotten Bush to where he is now, but what else?  Rove declined to be interviewed for the film (duh).  And although directors Joseph Mealy and Michael Shoob (Driven) have clips Rove speaking, they still decided to use a whiny, nasally voice as Rove to read a rebuttal to the book.  Hello pot, meet kettle.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 20 minutes, Not Rated but contains some language, would be a PG-13 or R.

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