Friday, June 24, 2005

Dick Durbin, Karl Rove, and the Politics of War

Well it seems that Karl Rove has gotten himself into some trouble over his recent remarks about the liberal response to 9/11. Well, actually he hasn't, because despite calls for his resignation, the White House, and Republicans are defending his remarks. First off, here's what he said:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

Utterly ridiculous of course. He goes on:

"Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Even more ridiculous. The fact is, Rove's remarks are yet another attempt to do what he declared to do in the months following 9/11: to manipulate the tragedy for political gain. Essentially, he pulled an Ann Coulter (or a Sean Hannity). His outrageous and divisive rhetoric is disgusting, but nothing new.

Never mind that all the Democrats in Congress save one, voted for the war in Afghanistan. Never mind the support for the strikes against the terrorists amongst the American people was around 90 percent. Basically, the only ones opposing America's efforts in the WOT, were the most hardened radicals (the far-Left fringe campus intellectuals, the likes of A.N.S.W.E.R, the pretentous Hollywood jackanapes, the worst of, and the most deluded of peaceniks. In defending his remarks, Rove used quotes from said radicals, in order to paint mainstream liberals as deluded politicos at best, and self-interested traitors at worst. Sean Hannity does this every night. The difference is that Rove is Bush's top adviser.

Of course, Durbin's comments didn't help matters. While I am convinced that it was not his intent to slander the troops, his references to Nazis, Stalin, and Pol Pot were utterly stupid, and he was right to apologize. Durbin, by letting his passions get the better of him, made a ridiculous and dangerously silly remark. While some on the far Left will call his apology a capitulation, I believe Durbin rightly understood his comments were over the line.

But to be fair, Durbin's sin was that of hyperbole. He never meant to overtly compared the troops to Nazis. He did however, in his legit attempts to take a serious look at the conditions at Gitmo, go much to far in characterizing the facility. No matter how you look at it, comapring American policies to Nazi policies is utterly stupid. Anyway, here's excatly what he said:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

Like I said, utterly stupid, and over the line, but he never actually called them Nazis.

Getting back to Rove's idiocy for a moment, I don't think the Dems should spend all their energy fighting this. In fact, I'm convinced Rove did this specifically to fire up the base, and to lure Dems into another political trap. Dems will go after Rove, and ignore the larger concerns about the country's perceptions of the Party. Many in the country feel that Dems ahve no real plan, or even a desire to fight the War on Terror. This is the battle that needs to be fought. The Republicans have decided to play the political game, and all Dems seem to be able to do is to complain about how Republicans play the game. If we're to survive, the Dems need to counter the name-calling and politicization with a real strategy, not complaining, and more name-calling (I'm calling your name, Howard Dean).

Update: A thought just came to me. Another difference between Rove and Durbin's comments is that we know that Rove's comments were deliberate and calculated. Many have defended Rove's comments by suggesting that his comments didn't endanger the troops as Durbin's did. Well, those comments sure are divisive. A nation divided over the issue of war sure as Hell isn't good for the nation's morale. When the troops hear political leaders like Rove basically say that half the country doesn't support you (which is what Rush Limbaugh told them to their faces), how does that help morale? With the exception of the far fringe, and a handful of misguided fools, the country was united behind the WOT. It wasn't until the right-wingers began attacking the patriotism and the character of Democrats, that the divisions over the WOT began to really form. To be fair, many on the far Left did say some stupid sh-t, but do you all remember what happened to Max Cleland?

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