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Karl Rove, Life of the Party

Karl Rove sure makes life after W look footloose and fancy-free.

President Bush's (former) Brain didn't seem to have a care in the world Monday night as he smiled and schmoozed his way through a book party for New York Daily News bureau chief Tom DeFrank. Well, not a care in the world except for... his own book.

Remember: the Sleuth was first to report, back in July before he announced his resignation from the White House, that Rove planned to write nonfiction. (We may never have learned it had we not popped into a remote mountain lodge by a scenic overlook in Colorado where Rove himself had been a week before on his way to the Aspen Ideas Festival.)

So when we spotted him at DeFrank's book party, we asked how his project was going. Rove told the Sleuth he has just begun unpacking boxes of notes to begin work on his tome about the Bush White House and presumably other facets of his life as the Republican Party's controversial top operative.

He gave up nothing about what will be in the book but said he'll have to sacrifice his passion for dove hunting while he focuses on writing, which he'll do from three difference places: his home in Washington, his beach house in the panhandle of Florida and his cabin in Texas.

He was as tight-lipped as ever, but calmer and seemingly carefree. He didn't once check his Blackberry, an old habit he immortalized at this year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association gala. Nor was he traveling with an entourage of handlers. In fact, as far as we could tell, he came to the party alone.

One person Rove spent a lot of time chatting up at DeFrank's book party was Bob Barnett, book agent to the political glitterati, including former President Bill Clinton. Barnett represents both Rove and DeFrank, whose book about his off-the-record interviews with the late President Gerald Ford, "Write It When I'm Gone," has created a whirlwind of buzz on the campaign trail over Ford's reported belief that Clinton was a sex addict. (For the record, no one from the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign showed up at DeFrank's party.)

Rove and Barnett chatted about - what else? - books. Barnett commented on Tony Blair's newly signed multi-million-pound book deal, which he helped to facilitate. And Rove suggested he himself is looking across the great pond for inspiration.

He mentioned that he recently read the newly published diaries of Blair's former communications czar Alistair Campbell, which prompted one reporter to say that Campbell was "Tony Blair's Karl Rove." American political journalists can only pray that Karl Rove isn't George W. Bush's Alistair Campbell - because Rove smiled rather impishly when he noted that Campbell, in his diaries, "settles scores" against pesky British journalists and political foes.

Will Rove be doing the same in his book?

"I'll take the high road," Rove said, not all too reassuringly.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  October 30, 2007; 9:25 AM ET
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