Just waking up to this. MM is not sorry to see him go and thinks he could have done us a favor by quitting last year. Probably true. The die on Plame had already been cast by then and Jorge Arbusto surely wouldn’t have needed Rove around to get him excited about shamnesty, but who knows what it might have meant to the U.S. Attorney scandal and to the strategic masterstroke of pulling the ripcord on Rumsfeld the day after the election instead of weeks before.

I’m wondering now what this does to his executive privilege claim vis-a-vis Congress. Nothing, probably — the attorney-client privilege applies to lawyer-client communications made during the course of the representation even after the lawyer’s been fired, so presumably this works the same way. The timing does seem awfully coincidental, though.

Feel free to sound off. I doubt he’ll be replaced, but suggestions are welcome. If Harold Ford is right about the left having been handed a “Hoover moment,” Rove more so than anyone except possibly Dick Cheney is responsible for it. He set out to build a permanent Republican majority and may have ended up with a permanent Democratic one. There’s his epitaph.

Update: The Diggbats rejoice. The left naturally suspects some new scandal is about to drop such that the White House wants to ease the culprit, or at least its biggest lightning rod, out the door before the lightning strikes. I think it might be more a case of unloading some dead weight before the Iraq showdown next month. Bush needs whatever public support he can scrounge up in the interim. This won’t hurt on that count.

Update: The White House has called a presser. We’ll probably have video.

Update: E.M. thinks it’s timed to let him hook on with one of the campaigns, likely Fred’s. If so, they’d better guard the work he does for them like a state secret. The last thing the Republican nominee wants is to make the Dems’ job of painting him as the next Bush any easier.

For the record, Rove says he’s sitting out the race.

Update: Here’s the presser. MC Rove turns out to be a big ol’ softie.