Karl Rove: Weapon of Mass Delusion

Roveby C. Edmund Wright   10/21/14
So Karl Rove was involved in a cover-up. Well, 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. He did just that on the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. This is not an outlier either — this is just Rove being Rove. And ‘Rove being Rove’ has sown 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 New York Times ran an eight part expose on WMDs and The Daily Beast ran a well-sourced piece entitled Insiders Blame Rove for Covering Up Iraq’s Real WMDs that chronicles a Rove-inspired cover up.  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, too.

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 midterms, the 2008 Presidential election, the 2012 Presidential election — and oh, the development of a little outfit known as ISIS / ISIL / IS etc. The costs 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 Daily Beast 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 paraphrasing). “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.’”

Pete Hoekstra, who was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, corroborated Santorum’s story in an interview with AT Monday. “As we’re (Santorum and Hoekstra) trying to help the Administration, the harshest critics we have are from the Administration. There’s no doubt to me there’s a cover up — the vast majority of the information we have now is stuff we were asking about in 2005 and 2006 and they never told us about it.”

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 public’s mind, and he just wanted to move on. It is clear that the main consideration was political.

To be fair, there were two lines of military reasoning given by the administration as well.  One was that the WMDs they found were old and no longer any more potent than what the “average household has under the kitchen sink.”  Another was that they didn’t want the Sunnis to get their hands on them.

“Well which is it?” asked an openly furious Mark Levin during his Thursday show last week. “This is where the dissembling starts. The ass covering. This is unbelievable. This is unacceptable.”

I submit that all 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 different skill set. This notion of “turning the page” on WMDs is the babbling of a small picture WTFbureaucrat, not a big picture strategist. He is not at all aware of what is going on outside the Beltway. Second, he is a soulless 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. He did this multiple times on many issues. Yes, George W. Bush owns a lot of this responsibility as well, but the ex-President is not out asking for contributions and running Super PACs and commenting on Fox News. Rove is, and that’s why he is the pertinent figure now.

In the 2013 Amazon best-seller 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. That will never change now.

This was also the communications strategy around Hurricane Katrina, where no one from the Rove team ever whispered 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.

“They had a philosophy in the White House:  Never respond to criticism,” noted Rush Limbaugh on his Friday show last week. “Never defend yourself against any criticism no matter what happens because that’ll just prolong the story. Rove has even admitted now that one of the big mistakes he made strategically… letting some of these allegations day to day, whatever they were, not just about the Iraq war, but let ’em all go by and not comment on it.”

Clearly exasperated, Rush added all of this was

“so damn unnecessary.  All because a political calculation was made to not revisit something that had already been determined… I swear, I do not understand this.  How can you be a member of the Bush administration and know every day the lies that are being told… the absolute crumbling of the integrity of the institution of the presidency that was undergoing, and not even stand up and defend it.  I don’t understand it.”

The answer is Rove being Rove.

And on an on it goes. 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.


CEdmundWrightC. Edmund Wright is contributor to StubbornThings, American Thinker, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network and author of WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again. • (2776 views)

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15 Responses to Karl Rove: Weapon of Mass Delusion

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Basically, Rove made a strategic decision that some people apparently believe — that it doesn’t matter what sort of publicity you get as long as people remember your name. (FDR refused to use his opponents’ names in speeches precisely for that reason. Of course, his political background was in New York City with its large immigrant population.) This may have been true once, but when facing enemies who seek to demagogue you to death (in true Saul Alinsky fashion), it’s definitely a losing strategy today.

    • David Ray says:

      Dick Morris addressed FDR’s strategy in his book “Power Plays”. What’s interesting about that book is how liberals would criticize it so viciously, yet Morris’s book doesn’t take sides – it simply examines what works in the political arena. (Liberals like to treat book reviews like a blog.)

      It’s said that conservatives actually read books and liberals only look at them. Clearly when comments reflect that a book hasn’t even been opened, it buoys that observation. (Also Stossel’s publisher insisted that his book “Give Me a Break” have the title expanded to include “. . . and became the scourge of the liberal media” because he was told conservative books sell.)

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Someone please inform me the moment that Sean Hannity (and I’ve always been a big fan of his) stops slobbering all over “The Architect.” Perhaps then I will bother watching Fox News again.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Man did not always aspire to be a freak.

    I submit that all 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 different 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 soulless 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.

    This is a devastatingly good point by Wright. Here’s another great point:

    This was also the communications strategy around Hurricane Katrina, where no one from the Rove team ever whispered 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!

    What conservatives need to understand from purely a party-politics standpoint is that you have two groups (libertarians and Establishment Republicans) who are trying to take over the party, neither one of which wants to do battle with the Left if only because they dislike conservatives and have so much in common with the Left.

  4. David Ray says:

    Bill Sammon has a damned good book titled “AT ANY COST. How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election.”
    He does a stellar job of deconstructing how the media not only cost Bush 8000 votes minimum (more like 30,000) by calling Florida, wrongly, before the polls had closed. It also demonstrates how that was not an anomaly. The press unceasingly called states for Gore within minutes on low margins, and dragged their feet for hours when calling states for Bush. (Ann Coulter also covers that in her book “Slander”.)

    It gets worse.
    Bush’s cousin, John Ellis, received a torrent of vicious press attacks for calling Florida at 2:17 am (which cost Gore nothing). The endless hyperventilation resulted in Ellis being hauled before a congressional committee . . . the same Ellis of Fox News that called Florida for Gore – 8 minutes too early, following Dan Rather’s blunder of calling it 12 minutes too early.
    Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and the rest of the media mob descended on Ellis & Jeb with torches & pitchforks. Karl Rove’s response was to shrug off such endless vile accusation. After all; they weren’t after his scalp . . . yet.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I recall Sammon’s book. One thing I recall is that he pointed out the degree of bias (probably in the exit polling) that led to peculiarities in when states were called. (I still remember how worried I was one, either in 2000 or 2004, that Mississippi was so late in being called — yet the margin there was far larger than in some states such as Pennsylvania that were called for the Democrat more quickly.)

  5. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Wright clearly has Karl Rove’s number and his critique is devastating. I would like to suggest an alternative way of understanding why Rove’s approach is so unavailing. In formal debate, such as we have at the high school and college levels, the judge scores the debate by noting what arguments are made by the Affirmative side and whether or not they were answered by the Negative side. Allowing the Affirmatives to make an unanswered point is scored heavily in their favor.

    Now while the American public is not trained in formal debate, they react much like a debate judge in that when one side makes an assertion that stands unrebutted by the other side, they accept that assertion as true. And this is why the habit of Rove (and others) is so devastating to the Republican case: the Democrats’ scurrilous arguments go unrebutted and become accepted by the American people, as when they were told that their President lied to get them into a war, and were never told anything else by the President or his party. Rove’s strategy amounted to losing by default, which is classic Republicanism.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Great points, Nik, especially about what people will assume if an argument is not opposed. And although you’re smart as a whip, this idea is non unknown and should be widely known (lesson #1) among political consultants.

      So why did Rove steer Bush (and Bush is complicit as well) to this “new tone”? Complete pragmatism should tell you to fight back if all you care about is advantage. Why did they, in essence, surrender? And this kind of belly-roll seems to be an instinct with Establishment Republicans.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It’s the GOP version of liberal guilt. They hear charges (often about selfishness) from liberals, and they’re afraid that the charges are right, so they fail to fight back adequately. (Liberals don’t care if the charges about them are true, since political expedience is their only ethical standard. But most people, even in the political consultant business, do have a conscience. This makes them occasionally vulnerable to liberal sociopathy.)

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I don’t doubt there is a lot of liberal guilt in the vapid beliefs of Establishment Republicans.

          And that is to say that these Establishment Republicans have more in common with Progressives than they do traditional American culture and values.

          And as much as we can rightly say that Bush is a decent man compared to Obama, he was a vapid useful idiot in regards to politically correct Progressive ideas. He seemed to superficially be a conservative, but in his actions he was anything but. He thus tarred and feathered the conservative brand rather well. I doubt he meant to do so, but I think that is part of the appeal to the “new tone” as far as Rove is concerned. Rove is an insurgent to the Republican Party just as libertarians are.

  6. Misanthropette says:

    Rove isn’t a soulless political hack; he’s an oaf, a portly, clownish dolt. No Republican (president or other office holder) ought ever to have allowed a man so devoid of any sound principles, wit or cunning to become a senior advisor, a consultant, a pollster, or a husband…3 times.

    Pity the women in poor Karl’s life. One look at the man and every honest woman understands immediately the guy must me loaded. LOADED. He lacks the complexity of Shakespeare’s Iago, the poetry of Milton’s Satan, and the wicked, sexy imagination of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger. The man cannot manage a decent evil laugh.

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