A recent statement by Karl Rove:
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
His motives seem rather transparent, and typical. When being attacked, he goes on the defensive, usually lying while he does it. Rove is monomaniacal: all he seems to care about is how to win more power for himself and others, particularly W. This comment attempts to put liberals on the defensive in a political climate where Rumsfeld was (finally!) roundly criticized in a Senate hearing by Edward Kennedy, who listed several "gross errors and mistakes" (see "The Quagmire of Iraq" in May, 2005) by the administration, Rumsfeld in particular: "In baseball, it's three strikes, you're out ... What is it for the secretary of defense? Isn't it time for you to resign?" He should have said a lot more, and it was very late in coming--but still felt good to hear.
Ample evidence of Rove's monomaniacal nature can be found in the film "Bush's Brain." One of the most disgusting examples (there are many) is from the 2000 primary season when Rove got Bush to share the stage with some other raving right-wing lunatic in South Carolina ready to malign a 5-year veteran of the Hanoi-Hilton, John McCain. The subject of this lunatic's rant was McCain's supposed lack of support of veterans as a Senator, despite the fact that McCain has been a stalwart supporter of vets since his return from Vietnam. McCain would say to Bush on Larry King that he should be ashamed of himself. Very true (a truism even), but it probably wasn't Bush's idea. It was classic Rove, as "Bush's Brain" makes clear. Bush, by the way, would cut the VA budget after entering office. McCain would strangely support Bush in 2004. McCain should be ashamed of himself for that.
Anyone who has seen "Bush's Brain" knows that Rove is monomaniacal and lacks anything most people would call moral decency. In fact, it is only the cultish, zombie-eyed true believers who think he really cares about those who died in 9/11, or securing the homeland, when he made his recent comments about conservatives and liberals (see "Terror War(ning) as Political Hay" in June, 2004, posts below). Did he care about John McCain's sacrifices as a Naval officer when he maligned his record? What does Rove value beyond power? Should anything this modern-day Machiavelli says be taken out of the context of his monomaniacal desire for power?
Returning to his comments, the first part of the statement carries the biggest lie: Rove and Bush are not conservatives (see "A Letter to Conservative Voters" in September, 2004, below). They are part of what might be called the "reactionary revolutionary right" (RRR). And let's give some thought to how Bush, Rove and Wolfowitz saw the 9/11 attacks. They saw the savagery, certainly, and they did prepare for war, without a doubt. But the war that Bush and Wolfowitz most wanted, and the war that has cost so many lives and created so much more hatred of the U.S. abroad, had nothing to do with the attacks.
More importantly, this war has made our homeland obviously less secure. The war in Iraq, as predicted by many, has proven much more difficult than the twisted intellect of Wolfowitz and crew ever imagined, and, predictably, than they continue to tell the nation. In fact, they look naive and stupid in retrospect (see "Quagmire" below), and they continue to tell lies about US success there: "mission accomplished" is among the most disgusting, but Cheney's recent "insurgency in its last throes" gives it some competition on the disgust meter. Like Enron, the executives in the White House are telling the share holders outrageous lies in a coordinated attempt to keep their stock inflated.
As Tim Dickerson's "Railroading Security" gives evidence for (see blog entry by the same name below), homeland security has been neglected by Bush and crew. Homeland security initiatives, for the most part, had to be pushed on them. They were much more concerned about winning the next election, and with the revolution at home and abroad. The revolution abroad is mostly about securing U.S. hegemony. A crucial part of this goal is securing control of the flow of oil to the U.S. (while lining the pockets of Bush's cronies). Does anyone really take seriously the "let's spread democracy" crap? For the most part, the Bushies are not interested in conserving the status quo. One example of the few things they are interested in conserving, related to the conservation of their power, is Bandar Bush's family--as long as the house of Saud is instrumental to getting what Bush and Co. want.
The revolution at home, unlike their efforts abroad, is going well for these zealots. The RRR is becoming more and more the standard bearers of the right, and the criminal-capitalist offspring of the old Rockefeller right are loving the corporate-welfare-and-deregulation ride the RRR and its cultish followers are providing. In turn, Bush's "real base"--as he says in Moore's film to a room full of the very wealthy, all in white tie or ball gowns--is providing all sorts of corporate support, particularly media support, for such revolutionary changes as the grotesque undermining of executive office institutions like the EPA, FCC, FERC, and SEC. Wolves guarding the hen houses of the U.S. linfrastructure is conventional these days. More significantly, important things like having an energy policy independent of the "special interests" of energy corporations is still just a pipe dream of pragmatists. The relative non-issue of Social Security is Bush's agenda (his lame attempt to push the economic pedal to the medal while lining the pockets of the financial wing of his base).
Modern-day Goldwater-Republicans have moved the fanaticisms of that presidential candidate into the mainstream, making Nixon seem to the cultish (ridiculously) a candidate for the tag "liberal" ("he did go to China"). One of the most remarkable achievements of the RRR, in fact, has been to help the maligning of a word all of the forefathers would have been proud to hear used to describe themselves: "liberal." The change in the use of this term alone is ample proof of how un-conservative this movement can be, and how the RRR is in fact winning the culture wars. Sad times.
So the RRR saw the savagery of 9/11 ... and Rove smiled because he knew that this meant a chance to make his incompetent cohort seem presidential--which, just prior to 9/11, had been a serious challenge since Bush's "election." After 9/11, all Bush had to do was to say the word "evil" a lot, and amp up his phoney cowboy imitation. Wolfowitz smiled because he saw 9/11 as an opportunity to satisify his obsession to go to war with Iraq, and an opportunity to establish his "preemption" policy as the standard. More generally, it is hard not to understand Wolfowitz as perceiving 9/11 as an opportunity to aggressively pursue his grand schemes of preserving US hegemony.
The administration went into Afghanistan with a force that equalled their enthusiasm for this war-- a war which so far has been the only aspect of their response to even resemble a "war on terrorism." It was a very small force. They knew enough about Soviet/CIA history to know that Afghanistan could be a hornet's nest, and it didn't really have anything they wanted (pipeline potential, maybe, but no oil). For political reasons, they would have liked to pick up Osama along the way ("dead or alive," said this unconvincing would-be John Wayne). Bin Laden, however, had been paid by the CIA to fight the Soviets back in the 80s (which meant the US helped him transport his fanatical enthusiasm to kill infidels from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan). Unlike any US force, CIA or otherwise, OBL really knew the area, and had the support of the local Afghans and Pakistanis. And Pakistan's dictator was and still is forced to deal with sympathetic zealots all around him. Like Saddam was, Musharaf is worried about his hold on power, and the Islamists all around him would prefer something akin to what Iran has. A hornet's nest, indeed, but also a huge threat to U.S. security (lots of potential al Qaeda members in that region).
Because the small U.S. force sent to fight the Taliban were really good at what they do (this veteran is quite confident about that, excluding the AF disaster with the Canadian troops), they were able--with the help of shifty warlords we probably should have excluded from the fighting with more of our own troops--to topple the fanatical, terrorist-supporting Taliban, but unable to do much damage at all to al Qaeda and the like, the first-order enemy. To actually make a dent on the type of terrorism behind 9/11, it seems Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would have to be two top targets of US aggression. We all know that wouldn't happen. And we all know a "war on terrorism" is about as viable as a "war on drugs" when "war" is understood in conventional terms of troops, planes, ships and weapons. Fighting terrorism has to go way beyond war, Mr. Rove.
In 2004, Rove smiled again as he was once again able to get his man into office by (sort of) winning the election. Again, he would do it by maligning a Vietnam vet who bravely served his country, and keeping out of the public eye how Bush avoided any brave service, and even defrauded the government by not fully serving his commitment after a very expensive stint in pilot training (see the blog entry on the Dan Rather debacle below). With "the savagery of 9/11" somehow transformed into "I'm a war president" (in a war against a dictator anyone who cared knew hated and felt threatened by al Qaeda)--with this transformation, spin graduated to revolution.
The RRR are now a major world force. I still say Nixon was the most distructive president this nation has experienced, especially since so many southeast Asians and Americans died under his watch. But Bush may be even worse since he represents this seachange victory of the right. Bush is more the face of, an epiphenomenon of, something much more significant than the man himself: a cultural revolution, put on steroids by 9/11, and promoted and sustained by corporate media and an electorate more easily-swayed, ignorant, and naive than cynical.
Right-leaning democrats (which is most democrats from where I sit) mostly were in support of the RRR and its spin-based revolution, few challenging Bush and crew on their bold-faced lies--few even mentioning that the war in Iraq was not at all connected to 9/11, few making clear that Saddam had no connection to al Qaeda, and few arguing that, after it was made crystal clear, Bush and crew should be held accountable for their WMD lies. There were no Iraqis on those planes. Almost all were Saudis (see two entries on Saudi Arabia in April, 2004, below). Iraq is not the issue with 9/11. Never was.
Liberal democrats "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war," but were naive enough to grant Bush the power to choose which war--that is, to choose a war that had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush and crew chose to USE this tragedy as a way of getting what they could not justify otherwise: a war with Iraq that they hoped would lead to greater control over vast amounts of oil. War profiteers on a grand scale. The fact that they used 9/11 in this way, I argue, is one of the many BIG CRIMES of this administration (see torture blog entries in April and May, 2004, and the "war criminals" entry in June, 2004, below).
The crime of the democrats with respect to 9/11 was letting Bush and Rove get away with the crime of shamelessly using 9/11 to push their unrelated agenda in Iraq. Those democrats who are guilty with respect to this crime should be voted out of office. There are more shameless crimes to come with the RRR, unfortunately. Democrats can honor the victims of 9/11 best by "going to war" against those who would use their tragedy to further their own twisted and unrelated agenda. They can atone for their crimes of omission by taking the political risk of standing up against the RRR. Unfortunately, such a stand is a political risk in a culture where the tag of liberal might be grounds for libel. A sad cultural state, indeed.