Friday, June 24, 2005

Rove Revisited

More politics, I know. Here's Steve Gilliard commenting on George Pataki's response to Karl Rove's provocation of a day or so ago. Quothe Pataki (blaming Hilary, as all Republicans must do):

In response, Pataki said Clinton hadn't voiced similar outrage over recent controversial comments from Democrats, including national chairman Howard Dean's disparaging remarks about Republicans and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin's invocation of Nazis and Soviet gulags in a speech about the U.S. military installation at Guantanamo Bay.

Quothe Gilliard in return:

Rove who has never served anyone but his wallet, thinks its funny to mock American fighting men. We need to remind Mr. Rove and his bosses that an entire division of New Yorkers, democrats and republicans, independents and right to life, are serving in Iraq. I don't think the 9 men who died within a week in the 69th Regiment were thinking about politics. They were New York Guardsmen and they were serving their country.

Now then - admirable as Gilliard's comments are - this is pretty much exactly what Rove was after, I think. Get the democrats talking about their patriotism, instead of about torture and abuse of prisoners. Create dueling quotes - so that you can get the conversation to be about the dueling quotes, or, why what Durbin or Dean said isn't the same as what Rove said - instead of talking about the torture, or the fact that Iraq is still a disaster, and our disaster. Rove said what he said to make sure people talk about the conversation - and to get the democrats talking about themselves, rather than about the war as such.

This would be a good time for Howard Dean to go on the attack. At least - the dems should avoid playing Rove's game. If you have to talk about the conversation, start it by asking - "do you think torture and abuse of prisoners is acceptable for the United States?"

It might also be nice to have someone respond to Rove's claims that "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war" by noting that what he means is, Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war with a country not involved in those attacks. That, basically, Tony Blair had to cut a deal with Bush to help him take out Saddam in order to get Bush and company to take on the people who attacked us. (Juan Cole has the story in Salon - also, see this story in the Guardian.) They might even note that they never did manage to catch the guy behind the attacks - he's still at large!

My point, I suspect, is this - Rove knows what he's doing. He's on the attack, because if you attack, you get people talking about what the other guy is doing, not what you have done. And if what you have done is a disaster....

Finally - this post from Billmon at Tom Tomorrow's blog raises some interesting points about Rove's speech. Billmon sees fear:

But, like fellow psychopath Mike Tyson, Rove isn't just telegraphing his punches, he's also displaying the depths of his fear. The rhetorical ear chewing and head butting is a clear sign the champ doesn't have the juice any more, and knows it. Rove is trying to get by on sheer intimidation. He's pushing as many primordial conservative buttons as he can -- leaning on them, in fact -- in hopes he can once again make the dreaded liberals the story, not the march of folly currently sinking into the Iraqi quicksands.

I think he's on to something - the White House has been losing on the facts since the beginning; they could carry things along on rhetoric for a while, but not forever. Facts have been battering them, and recent stories have been fought in their backyard, as it were, not ours. They need to get people arguing about what Liberals are up to, in a way that doesn't constantly remind people of our failures and sins. So you get this - an immediate counter-attack - by one of the big boys, and not the usual suspects (Cheney, Rummy) - Rove himself out there raving. It's a bluff. But you have to take the fight back to 'em to call it...

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