Rove’s nickname from Bush was Turd Blossom
No one is surprised that Karl Rove was involved in a cover-up. However, leave it to Karl – the “boy genius” and the “architect” – to orchestrate a cover-up that actually hides information exculpatory to his President and his party. Yes, he did just that. This is not an outlier either. This is just Rove being Rove. And ‘Rove being Rove’ has sewed the seeds of destruction that gave us Barack Obama in 2008, and again in 2012, and has scattered political germs that still haunt Republicans to this day. This goes back to late 2000 in fact. More on that later.
So in case you missed it, The Daily Beast ran a sourced piece this week entitled Insiders Blame Rove for Covering Up Iraq’s Real WMDs that chronicles a Rove inspired cover up of evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. You might remember the little kerfuffle the nation got into when ostensibly no weapons were found? You know, “Bush lied, people died” and all of that? It helped run George W. Bush’s administration right into the ground, and he took the Republican brand with him. Yes, Hurricane Katrina was a major factor too, but again, that was related to ‘Rove being Rove’ as well – and more on that later.
The WMD issue was one of the major public relations snafus of the Bush Administration, and the whole effort in the War on Terror. And the costs of these mistakes are catastrophic and still mounting. Those include, but are not limited to the 2006 mid terms, the 2008 Presidential election, the 2012 Presidential election – and oh, the development of a little outfit known as ISIS / ISIL / IS etc. They are incalculable. The electorate, over the course of the years of Bush being hammered about lying on the issue of WMDs, hardened toward Bush – and by extension – all Republicans and even all conservatives. We still have this hangover today! Ask a man named Romney.
So what is Rove’s part? He was the mastermind and chief proponent of the “new tone” White House communications strategy – a strategy of never engaging the other side in a public debate. This unfortunately was the theory that carried the day in 2005-06 on WMDs as well. Consider this from the article:
From the perspective of Rick Santorum…the weapons of mass destruction President Bush promised would be in Iraq …began turning up as early as 2004. Santorum said he and his staff began receiving photographs of discarded sarin and mustard-gas shells from U.S. soldiers in 2004. Two years later, when he was up for re-election, Santorum even went public with some of this information in a press conference disclosing a Pentagon report that found 500 chemical-weapons shells had been found in Iraq.
So, in Santorum’s mind, exonerating Bush on the issue of WMDs would be a good thing to do, especially in a campaign season. Of course it would. But what did “the architect” say about this:
The Bush White House wasn’t interested. “We don’t want to look back,” Santorum recalled Rove as saying (though Santorum stressed he was not quoting verbatim conversations he had more than eight years ago). “I will say that the gist of the comments from the president’s senior people was ‘We don’t want to look back, we want to look forward.’”
A senior advisor to Dick Cheney, Dave Wurmser confirmed, saying “in 2005-6, Karl Rove and his team blocked public disclosure of these (findings) and said ‘Let these sleeping dogs lie; we have lost that fight so better not to remind anyone of it.’”
So there you go. Let sleeping dogs lie. Wow. The man who many Republicans – and conservatives have looked to since 2000 for wisdom – did not think telling the truth about WMDs was a worthy political or military or moral endeavor. In Rove’s mind, the issue was settled in the publics mind, and he just wanted to move on.
I submit that this proves a couple of things about Rove. First, he’s not the strategist he’s given credit for being. He’s a tactician, and that’s a totally opposite skill set. This notion of turning the page on WMDs is the babbling of a small picture bureaucrat, not a big picture strategist. He is not at all aware of what is going on outside the Beltway. Second, he is a soul less political hack. Set politics aside for a moment, and consider that any and every public official who knew the truth about this owed it to the country to make it known. Period.
So Rove managed to miss a grand opportunity to not only do the right thing, but to help his President and his party in the process. I’m sorry, but this is not the stuff of genius.
In the 2013 book WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again,
I chronicle many other instances where Rove applied similar thinking – and all with devastating results. This started with the 2000 recount in Florida, where there was no push back at all on the popular vote meme, even though there were hundreds of thousands of Republicans who left polling places after NBC fraudulently called the race for Gore at 7 EST. That’s EASTERN. There was also widespread corruption in South Dakota and other places. There were chances to at least mitigate this theme, if tried early, but none were taken. Let’s move on. Now the electorate thinks Gore won by millions.
This was also the communications strategy around Hurricane Katrina, where no one from the Rove team ever whispered nary a syllable about the culpability of Democrats in the Mayors and Governor’s offices – which is where the bulk of the bad decisions were made. Not a whiff of a mention that Katrina was a failure of bureaucrats and Democrats. It all fell on Bush, which by association, fell on everyone who voted for him. Thus, when Chris Christie hugged Barack Obama on the tarmac a couple of days after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – Team Romney was forced once again to run against Bush and Katrina. Thanks Karl!!!! This stuff matters. For years!
And let’s not forget the economic meltdown, which was the direct result of three or four decades of liberal government perversion of the free market in areas of energy, lending, housing, esoteric derivatives, etc. Nope, can’t discuss that. Let’s move on. That gave us a McCain Campaign that figured it was best to run against Bush, and not Obama. Thanks again Karl. You can’t move on. When a political narrative goes unchallenged, it HARDENS and grows – it does not go away.
This is how we get the Orwellian reality that our financial reform package is named after Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, two of the four individuals most responsible for the meltdown in the first place. In 2012, 53% of the country still blamed Bush for the economy – and 53% voted Obama. Hmmm.
And on an on it goes. All of this is just ‘Rove being Rove.’ This is who he is. This is what he actually believes. He is intellectually and morally bankrupt, and apparently hasn’t noticed the direct connection between conservatism and truth. If he did, he would try to make that connection once in a while in a TV ad or communications strategy. But no, we must just pander to this group or that group or issue A or issue B.
I was not impressed by Bush’s 2000 campaign, including the days right after the election. So in 2001 I bought the URL www.FireKarlRove.com Never used it until last year, but I figure it’s a good one to have now. The abject decades of failure of Rove, and the entire Republican consultant class, is now a hot topic. This is a good, healthy and illustrative conversation to have. People now understand more about this group than ever. And frankly, I’m glad for the company.