Karl Rove's Self-Aggrandizing Title

Karl Rove is out touting his forthcoming memoir. He was on Fox News Channel today--naturally--showing off the cover, and he's promoting the volume to his million-plus Twitter followers.

I'm not unbiased about Rove. My conversation with him was a major part of the CIA leak case, and he came close to a perjury charge over his conversations with me. He also released me from a pledge of confidentiality that allowed me to avoid being sent to prison for contempt of court. I've questioned his candor on TV. So I look forward to the book with some personal interest. His editor at Simon & Schuster, Priscilla Painton, was the Time magazine editor of the piece I co-wrote that caused all the drama in the first place. As my colleague Josh Green has chronicled, I don't think the Rovian style of politics is good for America, but I bet the book will be interesting.

Leaving that aside, I'm amazed, though, by the self-aggrandizing title: Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. First, it's an alliterative clunker, heavy on the Cs. But who uses courage in their own memoirs? John F. Kennedy famously wrote--or had written for him--Profiles in Courage, about other people. John McCain called his memoir Faith of my Fathers, not I'm So Brave. Not really sure a direct mail guy turned political consultant turned top White House adviser should call himself courageous. If he was advising a client, wouldn't he have other people describe him that way? To do it yourself seems grandiose in the extreme. A more subdued tile might be Heart of a Patriot. Oh, wait, that's already the title of another Simon & Schuster book, this one by former Senator Max Cleland, who lost reelection after ads attacked the Vietnam Vet, who lost three limbs in Southeast Asia, for being weak on terror. The subtitle of his book? How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove. 

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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