Though Karl Rove's new memoir, Courage and Consequence, isn't officially on sale yet, the political media is already scouring it for anything resembling a revelation about the George W. Bush White House — and about Rove, a.k.a. "Bush's Brain," himself. Here, the five most-discussed highlights:
1. Bush wouldn't have invaded Iraq if he'd known the truth about W.M.D.'s
The Bush administration really believed we'd find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Rove writes: "Would the Iraq War have occurred without W.M.D.? I doubt it," he says. But "did Bush lie us into war? Absolutely not."
2. Dick Cheney didn't, as rumored, choose himself as Bush's VP
Rove says the stories of Dick Cheney selecting himself to be Bush's vice president are "far-fetched." Cheney was the head of then-candidate Bush's VP search, but Rove says he saw Cheney "squirm" when Bush offered him the job, adding that, in the end, Cheney was "too much of a patriot" to turn Bush down. Rove says Cheney beat out contenders including Tom Ridge, Fred Thompson, and Lamar Alexander.
3. Rove's mom committed suicide; his stepfather might have been gay
A child of divorce, Rove is "hard-nosed" about the politics, but he recalls his personal life with "unexpectedly tender prose," says Steven Levingston in The Washington Post. Rove's mother killed herself, and his much beloved stepfather — whom he thought was his father until the divorce — might have been gay. "I have no idea if my [step]father was gay," Rove writes. "And, frankly, I don't care."
4. Rove defends Bush to the end
According to Rove, most everything you think you remember about the Bush presidency is wrong, says Dana Milbank in The Washington Post, who calls the book an audacious "historial re-write." Bush "never authorized torture; he did just the opposite." The economy? In Rove's view, Bush's spending was "far below average," and he led us through "the longest period of economic growth since President Reagan."
5. A 9-year-old girl once beat Rove up
Rove's book traces his love for rough and tumble politics back to the first political fight he ever lost: In 1960, a 9-year-old girl who supported John F. Kennedy took issue with the Nixon bumper sticker on Rove's bike. According to Maureen O'Connor at Gawker, although the girl may have inadvertently "created a war in Iraq," she deserves to become "a folk hero."