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August 13, 2007

Don't Let the Door Hit You . . .
Posted by Michael Cohen

Upon hearing the news this morning that Karl Rove was departing I couldn't help but smile. After all, it's nice to know that my taxpayer dollars will no longer be paying his salary.

But upon his departure it begs the question, what is Rove's legacy? On the one hand, Rove has shown himself to be a brilliant political mind (the guy did elect George W. Bush to the Presidency twice after all), but that brilliance has been built on a rather dubious platform.

First, he helped Bush win in 2000 by running one of the most intellectually dishonest campaigns in modern American history. Bush ran as a "compassionate conservative" and a "uniter, not a divider" who would "restore honor and dignity" to the White House. Instead he governed as a hard right and highly partisan conservative who made no effort to bring the country together. Fifty plus one has been their approach since day one.

The hyper-partisanship that defines American politics today is a direct result of this governing strategy, which of course was always much more about winning politically then running the nation effectively.

In few places has the damage from this approach been more severe than foreign policy. Repeatedly the Administration has used Democratic vulnerability on national security matters to score a political advantage, whether its the war on Iraq, terrorism or domestic surveillance.

Case in point, the recent debacle over the renewal of FISA. What is most interesting about the post-mortems on this issue is that everyone is blaming Dems for caving on the bill (as they should). But where's the opprobrium for the behavior of Bush and the GOP? The key rationale for the Dems cave is the substantial evidence that the GOP were not only going to use the failure to renew FISA as a club for attacking Democrats as being weak on national security, but if there was another terrorist attack in August, Republicans were completely prepared to blame Democrats for it.

Senator Trent Lott basically said as much, intimating that if Dems didn't pass FISA revisions, DC residents should literally run for their lives:

Without mentioning a specific threat to the Capitol, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) ominously advised Thursday that Congress needed to pass changes to terrorist surveillance laws before leaving for the August recess and warned that otherwise “the disaster could be on our doorstep.”

When asked if people should leave Washington, D.C., during the month of August, Lott responded, “I think it would be good to leave town in August, and it would probably be good to stay out until September the 12th.”

What's most amazing is that this extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and national security no longer even raises eyebrows. We've come to expect Republican leaders to do or say anything related to terrorism and national security if they think it will score them a political advantage. The result is that it's virtually impossible to have any kind of debate about the best means of fighting Islamic extremists. Once Dems sound any discordant note or warn that the tactics this nation is adopting need to be moderated they get hit over the head with attacks on their patriotism. Of course, it didn't have to be this way. Bush could have tried to work with Dems in fighting terrorism - but I suppose that wouldn't have been as politically expedient.

That in a nutshell is Karl Rove's legacy. Good riddance, indeed.


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Bush was elected twice? He was installed once by the Supreme Court. The other is questionable due to election day hanky-panky in Ohio. In the end, he did win, but I don't think Rove was all that brilliant.

No it doesn't "beg the question"

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