by 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 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.
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.
C. 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. • (2700 views)