Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rove reveals what the White House really thinks...

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It appears that Karl Rove, the lightning rod for the antipathy that currently surrounds the Administation, has just given his political adversaries a very early Christmas present...

From The Huffington post:

Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor and deputy White House chief of staff, spoke at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend. Here is what Rove had to say that the press wasn't allowed to report on.

On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...
On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...
On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything...
On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East...
On Judy Miller And Plamegate: Judy Miller is in jail for reasons I don't really understand...
On Joe Wilson: Joe Wilson and I attend the same church but Joe goes to the wacky mass...
In attendance at the conference, among others were: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey, Michael Eisner, Les Moonves, Tom Freston, Tom Friedman, Bob Novak, Barry Diller, Martha Stewart, Margaret Carlson, Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell, Norman Pearlstein and Walter Isaacson.

There is nothing here that is really incendiary... however, calling Cindy Sheehan a clown when, politics aside, she has made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the nation via the death of her son in Iraq, seems to me undignified and inappropriate behavior for the White House Senior Political Advisor (+Deputy Chief of Staff). Behaving spitefully towards Joe Wilson, while the Special Prosecutor's investigation is still ongoing is also unbecoming of the President's closest aide IMO.

The most telling comment, however, is the remark made about the White House response to Katrina. To suggest that not overriding local government was the only mistake of President Bush, while possibly true, is completely at odds with the tone Bush attempted to strike in his recent addresses to the nation, accepting full responsibility for the many different mistakes that cost so many lives and created such chaos and carnage. The explicit implication now is that Bush's words have been politically contrived, above and beyond the predictable accusations of his political opponents, and general cynicism. It makes it look like the President doesn't really think that he did anything wrong.

Of course these reports could be false, or taken out of context, and that should be taken into consideration. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, this story develops over the coming week.

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Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

Wouldn't be at all surprised if that was verbatim what he said. It is no surprise to me that that whole speech was tongue in cheek, they did not take responsibility and they do not feel any remorse. If it is true it is certainly incendiary in my opinion but it just shows how arrogant and out of touch these people are.
I’d expotentiate but I have class.

Chris said...

But the federal government already overrode the local and state governments long before the storm ever hit. That is what is being missed here.

Because of Homeland Security and its current mandate, the federal government assumes complete authority over all national crises. Meaning that it is up to the federal government to have the local and state officials, including all first responders, prepared for all events, natural or manmade.

I think the problem is that there was nothing for the federal government to override. It was a federal operation from the beginning and they failed. There was nothing in place to begin any sort of rescue/recovery operation.

So when people say that the local and state failed, which is very true, then they are also admitting that the feds failed as well.

Bush created Homeland Security for a reason such as this. It didn't work.

Sorry Graham, this isn't meant towards you. I'm just using your space to rant :)

Graham said...

Feel free to vent MJ any time :).

I agree, but the problem is that this isn't even possible to scrutinize because the position Rove took off the record is not the position the Administration is taking publically. It's the discrepancy which intrigues me. In addition to the fact he called Cindy Sheehan a clown, which if true, is utterly indefensible for someone in a position like him. It's also, from a political perspective, unnecessary and stupid... which is what I really don't understand.

Hey Alice,

Yeah, it does make it difficult to reconcile Bush's tone. But, I'm in the mood for giving the President the benefit of the doubt again and see if this concerted effort lasts longer than the original one. It will be interesting to see where we are in a couple of weeks, and whether Bush has lost interest or really started to follow through.

Dr. Forbush said...

The Left will jump up and down and yell about these comments, but the Right could care less. They just take it all in stride and don't give a damn...

In the long run, Rove can do anything he wants and it won't change a thing. He may have said these things just to prove a point.

Graham said...

You maybe right, and I don't think any jumping up and down, or political partisanship is going to accomplish very much here.

But, from as objective a standpoint as possible, Karl Rove referring to Cindy Sheehan as a "clown" is a reprehensible act, and one that people should expect the President to take seriously. Whether u think her politics come from the land of wackadoo or not... it is plainly obvious why she believes what she believes and has expressed it so fervently... because her son lost his life in the war in question.

In many ways I think the criticism of the Administration in the aftermath of the hurricane has been excessive, but the one point on which I do feel strongly about is the relentless political posturing and acts of self preservation, which have been entirely inappropriate.

It's this continual electioneering... no, make that shoddy and divisive electioneering that is characterized pointedly by Rove's off the record statements on both Sheehan and Wilson, and the assertions about the Administration's response to the Hurricane.

Pliny said...

I don't see anything wrong with anything he said. BTW, Cindy didn't make the ultimate sacrifice - her son did.

He volunteered three times in order to give his life for his country and fellow-servicemen.

Everything else Rove said was quite accurate (although I'm not sure which mass is the wacky one).

Graham said...

I would be willing to debate you on what equates to the ultimate sacrifice... sacrificing your own life, or that of one of your children. I know which I would find easier, and it wouldn't be stepping into Cindy Sheehan's shoes.

You conveniently avoid my point, which is for a WH official to refer to someone who has lost their son to war in service of the nation as a clown, because of their views about that war, or anything else, seems rather inappropriate, and at least to me, unacceptable.

I didn't have much of a serious problem with anything else that was said.

Chris said...

But Graham, any position Rove takes, whether it's on or off the record is Bush's position also. Rove is the chief political advisor and an employee of the Bush administration. Any time Rove speaks he does so for the president, unless the president says otherwise.

A chief political advisor cannot just go around saying stuff off the record and not expect it to be a comment from the administration.

Rove's words are the president's unless we are told otherwise. That's how it works. That's how it has always worked. For some reason Bush gets away with it.

So when Rove calls Sheehan a clown, the president calls her a clown.

There is no distinction between the two.

Brad said...

Why would the press not be allowed to cover this? It seems stupid that he should ever be allowed to speak completely "off the record" unless he's talking to his shrink or doctor (or lawyer).

Graham said...

Hey Brad, I believe it is a convention surrounding this particular gathering + it seems clear that for now the mainstream press is respecting it. I don't think you're going to hear anything about these comments in newspapers, cable news, etc, although I might be wrong.

Like I said, as this relates to the other things that were said, it's difficult, because there is tad more ambiguity involved in what might be wrong, or reprehensible. The Sheehan statement is the only explicitly wrong statement. I absolutely do not support Cindy Sheehan to be clear. But, for the office of the Presidency to resort to such patronizing ridicule is terribly sad... because we all know now that this tone probably represents the way in which Sheehan is perceived actually in the White House, and possibly even by the President himself.

Hey MJ,

I absolutely agree with you, but the Bush White House is completely unconventional. I don't think you can compare it to the past in the expectation that similar levels of scrutiny apply. Bush has eroded virtually any of the traditional means of accountability. + nobody seems to really care. Nobody seems to really mind that Bush, for the duration of his Presidency, hasn't really been scrutinized in any venue that his political aide's did not have complete control of, for instance.

I don't think the President can be held accountable, as you say, for off the record comments made by his political advisor, and deputy chief of staff. I think he can be held accountable for refusing to act if something is said off the record by a member of his staff which is utterly offensive, or contradicts his policies.

But for this to effectively matter, the issue has to resonate with the American people, and unfortunately, in these sharply divided, partisan, and apathetic times, I don't think there would be the requisite outrage in response to any of these comments. Ultimately, IMO, this will just serve as revelatory insight into how juvenile and substanceless the current White House team really is.

Just Wandering said...

Why are American politicians always so worried about covering their butts instead of running the country? Maybe that's why things like this happen.

Graham said...

I think the attitude u describe is to be expected in politics but in an event like Katrina u hope that such things are put completely to one side. I think what hurt Bush so bad was that it was obvious the Administration were still playing these games at a time when people would rather that they put politics to one side and devoted themselves to the welfare of those in need.

Thanks for your comment, just wandering.