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Sunday, May 01, 2005


David Corn on Karl Rove
Read the whole post here:

But my favorite GOP quote of the past few days came from Bush-shaper Karl Rove. He gave a lecture on the media and politicians at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. He did observe that the press does not follow a "liberal agenda, explaining that it is "less liberal than it is oppositional." Oh, if only the "oppositional" part was consistently so. But Rove was--knowingly or not--contradicting DeLay, who has claimed that the bad ink he's received lately has been due to a liberal media conspiracy.

But that Rove observation is not the quote I had in mind. Let me turn to the part of the speech where Rove did his we're-all-reasonable-fellows shtick. "Most people I know on both sides of the aisle," he remarked, "believe in the positions they take." He continued, "Unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, commentators should answer arguments instead of impugning the motives of those with whom they disagree."

Now why Rove wasn't laughed out of the lecture hall for saying this is beyond me. After all, it was his boss who during the 2002 congressional elections campaigned against Democrats saying they had put their own political interests ahead of the nation's security because they had disagreed with Bush about workplace rules at the new Department of Homeland Security. It was the Bush campaign of 2004 that lampooned John Kerry as a flip-flopper rather than answer his arguments. At the same time, it countenanced the attacks of the Swift Boat gang, which impugned Kerry's motives by maintaining he had falsified his military record. Bush himself claimed Kerry really wanted to give European allies a veto over US national security decisions--even though Kerry never said that.

Rove and Bush have long succeeded by impugning the motives of their political foes. They have not engaged in fair debate. Yet before these students Rove pretended he is above the fray for which he is responsible. What a two-bit phony.

Rove's proposed do-not-impugn rule did not last long. Today Bush attacked Democrats for opposing John Bolton, his nominee to be UN ambassador. He urged Democrats to "put politics aside" and vote for Bolton. Once more, Bush was impugning motives, attributing the opposition to "politics." Was he answering argument with argument? Not at all. The Bolton battle is indeed one of those instances when policy differences lead (justifiably) to a political conflict. Does Bush not recognize that there are policy reasons--not political reasons--to believe a UN-basher should not be UN ambassador? I assume he does, but he'd rather falsely characterize the case against Bolton and depict the opposition as nothing but the result of me-me-me partisan wrangling. He sure wasn't taking Rove's lecture-hall advice.

It's not surprising that Rove dishes out bullshit, sounds-good rhetoric to the young minds of Washington College. He's a mud-thrower who wants to be accepted as a statesman. But it's a touch surprising--just a touch--that he and others get away with such blatant hypocrisy. Few in the media, the people who book college speeches--few dare to say, hey, Rove is full of complete crap and nothing he says should be taken seriously. (Kudos to The Washington Post's Dana Milbank for reporting on Rove's speech and coming as close to stating this as that newspaper will allow.) And I'm not impugning Rove's motives. I'm impugning him.

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