Karl Rove is, it's fair to say, the most famous political consultant of the modern age. There are a few others who achieved notoriety, like Lee Atwater, but none has had quite Rove's profile. He's admired and reviled, has had biographies written about him, and has been satirically immortalized by Stephen Colbert as a canned ham with glasses ("Ham Rove"). This came about partly because he was extremely successful at his craft, and because his success came out of some of the most ruthless and immoral tactics you could imagine, the kind of stuff you ordinarily only see in movies about politics but not in actual politics (see here for some details). But more than anything else, it was because the politician he drove to the White House was assumed by so many to be a dolt, and therefore the idea of Rove as the evil genius puppetmaster pulling all the strings made sense.
After reaching the pinnacle of his profession, most people in Rove's position would have left the actual work of politics, in the same way the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club show doesn't enter any more dog shows. Once you've stood on top of the mountain, the idea that you'll come back down and keep writing direct mail pieces for Senate candidates seems ridiculous. The logical career path would have been to become a "senior strategic advisor" or some such to Bank of America or G.E., getting a seven-figure salary for doing not much of anything beyond lunching with the CEO and giving your deep thoughts on the political situation to the board. You could go on Fox or the Sunday shows just to keep your profile up, but actually continuing to work in the rough-and-tumble would be beneath you.
But Rove stayed in the game, and when you do that, you risk damage to your reputation as all-knowing and all-seeing. Which is just what happened this past election. Rove's Crossroads GPS not only lost most of the races in which they were involved (not necessarily their fault; it was a Democratic year, after all), but his embarrassing performance on election night, insisting on Fox that the network had called Ohio too early and Mitt Romney might pull it out after all, no doubt made a lot of people say, "Hmm, maybe Rove isn't such a genius after all."
So how do you salvage things, and make sure that you can still raise the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars you need to be a player in the next election and the one after that?