An opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune via the LA Times:
Karl Rove led the nation to war to improve the political prospects of George W. Bush. I know how surreal that sounds. But I also know it is true.
As the president’s chief political adviser, Rove is involved in every decision coming out of the Oval Office. In fact, he flat out makes some of them. He is co-president of the United States, just as he was co-candidate for that office and co-governor of Texas. His relationship with the president is the most profound and complex of all of the White House advisers. And his role creates questions not addressed by our Constitution.
Rove is probably the most powerful unelected person in American history. The cause of the war in Iraq was not just about Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction or al-Qaida links to Iraq. Those may have been the stated causes, but every good lie should have a germ of truth. No, this was mostly a product of Rove’s usual prescience. He looked around and saw that the economy was anemic and people were complaining about the president’s inability to find Osama bin Laden. In another corner, the neoconservatives in the Cabinet were itching to launch ships and planes to the Middle East and take control of Iraq. Rove converged the dynamics of the times. He convinced the president to connect Saddam to Bin Laden, even if the CIA could not.
This misdirection worked. A Pew survey taken during the war showed 61 percent of Americans believe that Saddam and Bin Laden were confederates in the 9-11 attacks.
And now, Rove needs the conflict to continue so his client — the president — can retain wartime stature during next year’s election.
… There needs to be something sacred about our presidents’ decisions to send our children into combat. The Karl Roves of the world ought to not even be in the room, much less asked for advice.
Rove has influenced dealings with Iraq and North Korea, according to Bush administration sources. For instance, when the United States was notified, through formal diplomatic channels, that North Korea had nuclear technology, Congress was in the midst of discussing the Iraqi war resolution. Rove counseled the president to keep that information from Congress for 12 days, until the debate was finished, so it would not affect the vote. He was also reported to be present at a war strategy meeting concerning whether to attack Syria after Iraq. Rove said the timing was not right. Yet. Having the political adviser involved in that decision is wrong.
War, after all, is not a campaign event.
Again, do you remember all the posturing from the Bush camp in 2000 about the “politics” in Washington and their pledge to change the tone? Remember?
Why in hell did anyone vote for these people, and what’s worse – why are they still supporting him through this coup d’etat?
More from the New York Times:
Crowds of political junkies reached to touch the hem of his garment, but Mr. Rove was no James Carville strewing raw-meat quotations of Machiavellian cuteness. He amiably disclosed very little about the president’s re-election strategy. Until, that is, a student asked about the war in Iraq.
“First of all, it’s the battle of Iraq, not the war,” Mr. Rove carefully corrected. He went on to describe a far larger and longer war against terrorism that he sees clearly, perchance fortuitously, stretching well toward Election Day 2004.
If there were any doubt, Mr. Rove served notice to any and all Democratic challengers that feeding the aura of a wartime president, which has been bolstering Mr. Bush’s standing in opinion polls by 15 points and more, would remain his campaigners’ first priority across the next 18 months.
He made the Bush strategy clear: It’s the terror, not the economy, stupid, even if the nation is suffering rolling deficits and relentless unemployment, and despite Mr. Bush’s serial tax cuts for the captains of industry. Democrats may want to talk health care and other economic issues, but they will have to grapple their way through a patriotic blitz of a campaign, if Mr. Rove has his red-white-and-blue way. Democrats can rightly fear an “October surprise” coming color-coded by Tom Ridge next time around.
Let’s see if this prediction comes true: will there be carefully choreographed terror alerts and threats to our safety as the election nears, threats that only Dubya can protect us from? Will we hear rhetoric from the Bush camp to the effect that if we elect a Democrat, we will not be safe? How far will Karl Rove go to cement power by building a re-election campaign on the rubble of the World Trade Center and the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent victims?