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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Tips From the Coach

Having spent much of yesterday morning in Constitution Hall watching the happy and inspiring ceremony of my kid’s high school graduation, I was brought back to the unhappy and dispiriting realities of contemporary American politics by press accounts of Karl Rove’s pithy remarks to the New York Conservative Party the other night.I want to read the whole transcript (if it’s ever made available) before commenting at length. But it sure sounds like a Rove classic, combining his well-known habit of deliberately outrageous behavior designed to obliterate real debate in a storm of polarized rhetoric, and his more specific approach in national security to suggest any criticism of Bush’s record in Iraq or anywhere else must reflect a refusal to take 9/11 seriously.Perhaps the most interesting question about this speech’s “message” is why Rove chose to scuttle out of the shadows and deliver it himself instead of employing surrogates. You have to wonder if the Boy Genius was frustrated with the limited effects of the GOP’s counteroffensive on Iraq and Gitmo, and decided to put on a cap and whistle and go out there and personally show his team how to execute a Big Smear.’Til I have the opportunity to put on some rubber gloves and pick up Rove’s speech with sterilized tongs, I’ll just endorse the concise assessment made yesterday by Sen. John Kerry, who knows Karl’s tactics well from painful experience:

For Karl Rove to equate Democratic policy on terror to “indictments” and “therapy” is an outrageous attempt to divide the nation at just the moment we must be unified. Just days after 9/11 the Senate voted 98-0 and the House voted 420-1 to authorize President Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against terror. After the bipartisan vote, President Bush said, I quote: “I am gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message – our people are together, and we will prevail.”Karl Rove also said last night, quote: “No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.”Well, I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove’s motives, because they’re not the people’s motives, and if the President really believed his own words of unity, then he should fire Karl Rove.

Kerry’s right, but I’m sure he’s not holding his breath waiting for Bush to cut Karl loose. After all, there’s no way W. would be quarterbacking Team America without Coach Rove.

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