Today, I realized the answer: Karl Rove is Dr. Mabuse.
Mabuse was the antihero of several films made by Fritz Lang, in the 1920s, '30s, and '60s (and thereafter by other directors).
Here's a description (from here):
Driven by his insatiable lust for power and destruction...
he sets out to amass an illicit fortune...
take over Berlin, and destroy society en route to total world domination.
Rove: Well, I don't know about Berlin, but otherwise: Check!
Dr. Mabuse has all of the requisite traits for this ambitious career path: a brilliant, relentless criminal mind...
superhuman powers of mind-reading, hypnotism, and will-bending...
Rove: I assume so. I mean, it would explain a lot. So, check!
the savoir faire to operate smoothly amongst the social elite...
Rove: Savoir faire? Ok, this one doesn't fit.
the remorseless heart of a cold-blooded multiple murderer...
and balls of ice-cold steel.
Rove: Double check!
Rounding out his résumé, he is also a master of disguise...Rove: Check!
To prove this point, here is Rove dressed up like his hero, The Brain:
an accomplished speculator able to manipulate the economy...
and a man who–-like all would-be world dominators worth their salt–-will stop at nothing to achieve his nefarious ends.
Oh, Karl. If only you had a little more savoir faire, you coulda been a movie star... in Germany... in the 1930s.