Friday, June 24, 2005

Karl Rove: all he needs is an editor and some qualifiers

It's simple--Karl Rove just needs an editor.

Democrats and liberals are in an uproar about some statements Rove made Wednesday at a Manhattan fund-raiser. In case you were on planet Xenon and missed them, here they are:

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. Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said, "We will defeat our enemies." Liberals saw what happened to us and said, "We must understand our enemies."

Well, it's not quite up there with comparing the US military guards at Guantanamo to Nazis. But I may finally be able to prove my former-liberal bona fides (and to anger some on the right) by saying that I can understand at least some of the Democrats' upset.

First let me say that a great deal of this Democratic outrage, particularly among politicians, was no doubt self-serving strategic, histrionic tit-for-tat for the flak Rebublicans made over Durbin's recent remarks. Even the NY Times article indicates as much:

On Thursday, Democrats seized on Mr. Rove's comments, clearly hoping to put Republicans on the defensive by issuing harsh criticisms throughout the day in press releases, at a hastily arranged news conferences in the Capitol and in remarks delivered on the Senate floor.

But some of the Democrat anger at Rove's remarks was probably genuine, especially among rank and file. What was the problem? The statement was a sweeping generalization that offended many liberals who had in fact been angered by 9/11 when it happened, were harmed and scarred by it (think of all those liberals in New York, for example), and who disagree with Bush because they don't think his approach is the best way to fight terrorism, and not because they are interested in "understanding" the attackers. Such liberals do indeed exist, although how numerous they are I have no way of knowing.

So I hereby humbly offer myself as Rove's new speechwriter, or at least his editor. Here is my revision of his words, complete with qualifiers that make it a simple truth, albeit a somewhat less hard-hitting statement:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11and the attacks and prepared for war; some liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said, "We will defeat our enemies." Some liberals saw what happened to us and said, "We must understand our enemies."

The word "some" can work wonders. Even the word "many" would have helped.

Or, substitute the word "leftists" for "liberals," and make the qualifier "most." Then it would all be fine. Or somewhat fine. Perhaps.

36 Comments:

At 12:56 PM, June 24, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Isn't he clever?

 
At 1:31 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the way you tend to use "leftists" interchangeably with "liberals" and "democrats" - makes it sound like the non-republican opposition is some sort of maoist rebel group.

 
At 2:46 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous kung fu said...

Thanks for being sane about this one. I'm hoping for a country where the words "liberal" and "democrat" are no uglier to the right as "conservative" and "republican" are to the left.

 
At 4:18 PM, June 24, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

This whole "food fight" is enough to make me once again determined to put forward a new clarion call proposing MILITANT MODERATES!! I'm ready to take to the streets and shout at both sides for acting like little children.

I REMEMBER Jerry Falwell blaming 911 on Homosexuals and Godlessness! I remember Ward Churchill blaming the "little Eichmanns". Tell me there is a difference? Both extremes are sickening and I want nothing to do with a body politic that is supposed to set an example for the world, but instead send their petty, small-minded "hate peddlers" out to pimp for the publicity and make buffoons of us all!

 
At 4:39 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Falwell apologized for his statement. Churchill has reaffired his own statement.

 
At 5:28 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Falwell is a widely-known public figure, hugely influential with the president's evangelical base and probably the president too. Falwell's point was clear. He only (half-heartedly) apologized because he had to, but we all know he really meant it.

Churchill is a professor of the Dept of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder who's comments would have stayed obscure and eventually forgotten if not for being brought up by Bill O'Reilly so he could have something else to shout about, once again using a common blow-hard tactic of focusing on a rhetorical device, rather than the actual point of what the man was saying, which he later clarified:

I am not a "defender" of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable".

You can disagree, as I very much do, with the "little Eichmanns" characterization, and even with the larger point he made above, but to me it is a more rational argument than Falwell's comment:

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen."

Emmunah - look a the op-chart in the NY Times today do see how the halls of congress have become so polarized. It is a sad state of affairs.

 
At 5:55 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

Anonymous 2:31 PM: I wonder about your reading comprehension, and/or your logic.

I suggested that if Rove had used the word "leftists," he could also have correctly used the word "most," whereas if he'd kept to "liberals" he'd have to use "some" or "many." This indicates a difference between the two terms, not an identity.

Also, Democrats and liberals are in an uproar about Rove's remarks. Does that mean Democrats and liberals are the same thing? If I wrote, "cats and dogs are animals," would that mean that I think the two are identical?

 
At 5:59 PM, June 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Falwell apologized

"I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."

Churchill has reaffirmed his own statement and btw he's had several inconsistent clarifications but we all know he really meant each one. He also has legal and job issues such as many plaziarism charges and bullying university employees. Churchill was and remains tenured at univrsity where hs influences others.

 
At 7:07 PM, June 24, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

I don't think some of you are getting my main point. I DON'T CARE...STOP THE HATEFUL "MESSAGES"!!! Both extremes need to be locked up! They are both nuts! I'm not debating the merit of their comments, not the relative prestige, not the modifiers, not the qualifiers!! My POINT is these MORONS need to stop sounding like raving lunatics, trying with all their hearts (and glib tongues) to drive wedges between every citizen and START BEHAVING LIKE GROWN-UP PEOPLE WHO ARE ELECTED TO KNOW HOW TO DO MORE THAN DIVIDE AND WIN RE-ELECTION!!! I DON'T CARE WHO THEY ARE!!

neo-neocon...I'm sorry for losing my temper on your blog...but I've had it with both sides.

 
At 7:54 PM, June 24, 2005, Blogger Brad said...

Anon 6:23,
Your ignorance is astounding. Read all of Ward's writing. Then you will see what horse manure that apology was.

 
At 9:02 PM, June 24, 2005, Blogger John Moreschi said...

I too often make the same mistake on my blog - saying that "liberals" do this or think that. My wife gets mad at me and points out that a few of my dearest friends, who think of themselves as liberals, don't think or do those things, so all I am doing is accusing them of things that are untrue, and thus I am not being persuasive to those I would I would like to change.

I try to remember to say "some" liberals, or the "more radical leftists", or the "hard left", etc.

 
At 9:49 PM, June 24, 2005, Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge said...

      Yeah, it would have been more accurate to qualify that statement to read "some liberals," or "most leftists."

      But as one of the greatest politicians of the 20th Century said, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

      The Democrats and liberals and lefties are acting like idiots on this.  A smart politician would have laughed it off, said that he used to be a liberal, till it became illegal (Dave Barry's line), suggested Rove was off his meds.  And anyone with sense would know better than to expect nuance and qualifications at a fundraiser.  Just ask the reporters who cover Howard Dean.

      Now there's a good comeback: "Rove?  Oh, he's like Dean -- shoots from the lip, and misses half the time."

THE SAUDS MUST BE DESTROYED!

 
At 12:28 AM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would go with many liberals (70%). Of course, the remaining liberals decided they were proud to be neocons.

 
At 6:39 AM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Kerry said...

Contrast and compare responses from the Dems to Dick Durban's historically false smears of the military with their responses to Roves words about liberals. He did not say Democrats or Democratic party. Call all great-grandchildren of 1880's Irish immigrants alcoholic idiots or some other such nonsense and I'll ignore it. Any similarity I have stops at the word immigrant. Start screaming about the comparison and people will wonder if it's true. People are wondering if the Dems are those liberals Karl was speaking of. Is there a similarity to black people calling one another triggers, but by God no one else can? Maybe.

 
At 7:31 AM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Paul said...

I think that Karl Rove stepped on some Democrat/Liberal toes, but I am all for it. We are in a war unlike any we have ever waged against Islamofascists who do not want a dialogue with us. They want to destroy us and what America stands for. This is a war for survival and traitors (yes some few are) and apologists for Islamofascism are NOT on our side. When will some Americans start to wake up?

 
At 11:39 AM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous terryt said...

neo-
i agree with you about the qualifiers.
I also thought the Democtrats angry call for an apology and Rove's resignation seemed weak, too defensive, too furious.

A perhaps a stronger response: a calm but disdainful and dismissive condemnation of Rove's sweeping generalization and a post-911 quote from someone like Joe Lieberman.

 
At 11:56 AM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

Joe Lieberman? Is he still in the Democratic Party? He's been awfully quiet lately, hasn't he?

 
At 12:03 PM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul, you're freakin' me out.

"[Islamofascists] want to destroy us and what America stands for. This is a war for survival ..."

Some jihadists fantasize about converting Americans to Islam; some baptists fantasize about converting Arabs to Christianity.

Some jihadists fantasize about nuking NYC. Some Republicans fantasize about a war for survival.

Most jihadists fight to drive the USA out of the Middle East.

All jihadists are happy that American citizens are bitterly divided.

Btw, 'empathizing' with the enemy is old school military strategy. It's the first lesson in Fog of War, the movie documenting Robert McNamara's reflections on the Vietnam War. You don't win wars without it.

To that end, Ward Churchill, if nothing else, helps explain your enemy's motivation. That gets an informed debate going. It's healthy and important to your war on terror. If the US administration had actually attacked academic freedom by removing Churchill from his position, I'd have been really very concerned for Americans.

 
At 12:14 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Michael B said...

'You can disagree, as I very much do, with the "little Eichmanns" characterization, and even with the larger point he made above, but to me it is a more rational argument than Falwell's comment" Anon 6:28 p.m.

Always interesting, always amusing. If religion is brought up the Left and many of those who think of themselves as "liberal" complain of it's irrationality, which in some ways it undeniably is, virtually by definition. Yet when politics is the theme, the ideological religionists of the Left and (many) who label themselves "liberal" are capable of sustaining irrational behavior without any conscious sense of being conflicted or hypocritical.

Hence - and this is strikingly true in the case of Ward Chruchill's Chomsky-esque expressions and assumptions - it isn't rationality that forms the appeal, it's the set of ideologically based insinuations, presumptions, dogmas, etc. Those presumptions and dogmas roughly form the Left's sacral, never to be questioned texts; their evolving, sacred canon; their boorish screeds - often in an attempt to do Marx's - and his epigones' - will on earth.

(And referring to McNamara as some type of authority on Vietnam is worthy of zero respect.)

 
At 1:00 PM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

michael b, do you see any irony in your post?

Robert McNamara's entry in wikipedia.

 
At 1:21 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Michael B said...

There's plenty of irony in what I indicated, tragically so in McNamara's case, all of which I'm quite conscious of. We all know McNamara was the Sec. Def. during the Kennedy and Johnson years, hence it's reasonable to think of him as (obviously) knowledgeable about certain events, some or many of which are not well publicized. What's ironic, and tragic, is the form McNamara's more recent revisionist apologia took. The examples I could note are numerous and for that he deserves a particular scorn. (Too, wikipedia, while it can be initially helpful, can also be highly limited, as most are aware; a good place to start, hardly a good place to end a discussion and cite it as some type of final authority.)

On the other hand I'm hesitant of hijacking this thread onto Vietnam and of getting too far afield from the Rove/Durbin topic per se, the subject of this thread.

 
At 1:27 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Michael B said...

Put differently, it's not really "rational," is it, to approach a discussion of McNamara/Vietnam on a superficial level only?

Still, in the interest of not hijacking this thread onto that broader and endless subject, I won't comment any futher on McNamara/Vietnam herein.

 
At 1:43 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

Why are you all making a repeat of the morons that are promoting this stuff? I'll tell you why...because that's what they have set as an example, that's why!

On a normally distributed curve most people fall in the middle, but this seems to be ignored by both sides as they fire rockets from one side to the other side. Everyone in the middle just keep getting hit with the missiles.

The two ends of the normally distributed curve...the tail of the curve... are having the war of words, it's not the two standard deviations from the center that make up the the middle....or the average American citizen.

If you don't believe that the Ward Churchill's of the world hold to their "faiths" as much as the far right Jerry Falwell's do, I would say that's really a misunderstanding. Their faith in peace and love is just as ludicrous as the people who say this is a "war on religion". Both are wrong, it's a war between extremes! The hatemongers are the ones that try every day to convince more and more of the sane people to act like they do, think like they do, and buy into their arguments. Fortunately, the citizenry are not that gullible.

Americans elect pepople to do a job right? The job is to lead the country, do the "people's business" and strive towards compromise. That's NOT the job they are doing at all. They are trying to turn the whole country into two antagonistic camps that are under the mistaken impression that the OTHER side is evil...and then they try to extend what the "other side" means to include those who are just over the middle line! The more they can convince all people of that, the more they can win reelection and that's what the complaint is, not that the 2% on either side are nuts, because most American citizens already know that! But THEY are NOT America!

These people need to do their jobs in politics. The next moron politician that refers to "nazis" or "war against christianity" or some other such nonsense should have to spend the night in a room with nothing to do but contemplate the decisions of the american people who put them in political "time-out" for failing to do their job and succumbing to childishness instead.

The non-elected loony's need to go to time out if they are peddling hate, not be put on television to do it some more. It's fine to have freedom of speech for citizens, but when the news and radio put these people on tv over and over again it does not serve the public good, and if you've ever seen a civil war start you can see how the "other" must be demonized before the war begins, and that is just irresponsible and is not in service of the public interest at all.

Shame on them all! They do not represent America!

 
At 1:56 PM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

This is brilliant. It gives the conservatives an excuse--in defending Rove's remarks--to haul out all those statements proving he was right.

If there are liberals who are different from Rove's characterization, I suggest they drop their vow of silence and invisibility.

Additionally, there is a difference between Rove's comments and Durbin's. Durbin was trying to gain partisan political advantage without concern for the consequences. He neither knows nor cares whether he is right about Gitmo. Gitmo isn't the point. The point is embarrassing Bush and doing the Lilliputain tie-up of the (giant) Gulliver. Whether that hurts the US or any individual soldier is not of any interest to those who act as Durbin does.

Rove's comment, on the other hand, does not play abroad. It's intramural. al Jazeera isn't going to be able to run pieces explaining the MEGO stuff to Middle East news consumers.

Durbin, on the other hand, accused the US military to doing really bad stuff to the supposed brothers and sisters of the Arab news consumers, who have a disturbing degree of solidarity with terrorists.
Major difference. Biggest deal is the opportunity to drag out the "millin Mogadishus" and the terrorists in Iraq are Minutmen, and OBl is popular because he built roads and daycare facilities in Afghanistan.

 
At 1:56 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Michael B said...

Emmunah,

The gist of your complaint is not unreasonable, some of the specifics are. The Bell Curve analogy is an analogy with limited application when people like Michael Moore are given prominence at the Democratic Natl. Convention, seated next to a former president, and whose incredibly distortionist piece of agitprop mockumentary is promoted by the central committee of the DNC, Left/Dem senators and congressmen/women, etc.

I'd also note, more light heartedly, that your own profile begins with "I'm writing [your] blog for my sisters in arms." and that your two favorite movies are "Fight Club" and "The Matrix," hardly pacifist interests, eh?

Have a great weekend.

 
At 2:38 PM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I brought up McNamara in the context of Rove's quote, particularly the phrase "understanding for our attackers." Fog of War concludes that millions of lives might have been spared if Americans had understood their enemy's motivation.

The more important point is that it's an old-school military principle missing from the popular discourse. It's as if considering the actual reasons for the jihad is traitorous.

 
At 5:14 PM, June 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Three years in the US army, during World War II; seven years as Secretary of Defense, during the Vietnam War; thirteen years at the World Bank. At my age, eighty-five, I'm at an age where I can look back and derive some conclusions about my actions. My rule has been, try to learn, try to understand what happened. Develop the lessons and pass them on."
- McNamara, from the movie Fog of War

Rule #1: Empathize with your enemy

 
At 10:54 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

Michael You wrote:
"I'd also note, more light heartedly, that your own profile begins with "I'm writing [your] blog for my sisters in arms." and that your two favorite movies are "Fight Club" and "The Matrix," hardly pacifist interests, eh?"

My blog is an attempt to bolster women and their service to their country. To show women what they can do, and be, in a free society. I am also giving free MBA lessons LOL! As well as connecting Muslims, Jews, Americans and "freedom loving Kurds everywhere" who really do want Democracy.

Fight club talks about buying crap we don't need so we can find our identity in the things that own us. The Matrix talks about buying in to pre-scripted programming instead of understanding that freedom is the most priceless thing we can have. That's why I like those movies.

I'm not a pacifist, I'm a "Militant Moderate". I'm getting to the point that I'm going to start a gun-toting Freedom Corp whose primary mission will be to stop the two extremes from making the US the buffoon nation LOL!

It appears that there is selective attention going on here, depending on who thinks their ox is being gored. I can assure you however, I'm not goring one side over the other, I'm talking about both sides.

 
At 11:01 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

Oh, about the "liberals" coming out of the woodwork...I suppose I could be called a Liberal...a la JFK, FDR, and Wilson. I would vote for Joe Biden...does that help any?

 
At 11:02 PM, June 25, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

Of course, just so no one gets any ideas, I would also vote for Christy Whitman and Condi Rice.

 
At 9:45 AM, June 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poll: U.S. not winning world popularity contest

Associated Press
Published June 24, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The United States' popularity in many countries -- including longtime allies in Europe -- is lagging even communist China's.

The image of the U.S. fell sharply in 2003, after its invasion of Iraq, and two years later has shown few signs of rebounding in Western Europe or the Muslim world, an international poll found.

"The U.S. image has improved slightly but is still broadly negative," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. "It's amazing when you see the European public rating the United States so poorly, especially in comparison with China."

Almost two-thirds of Britons, 65 percent, saw China favorably, compared with 55 percent who held a positive view of the United States. In France, 58 percent had an upbeat view of China, compared with 43 percent who felt that way about the U.S. The results were nearly the same in Spain and the Netherlands.

The United States' favorability rating was lowest among three Muslim nations that are also U.S. allies -- Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan -- where only about one-fifth of those polled viewed the U.S. in a positive light. Only India and Poland viewed the U.S. more positively than they viewed China.

The poll found suspicion of the U.S. in many countries where people question the war in Iraq and are growing leery of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Polls were taken in April and May with samples of about 1,000 in most countries.

 
At 11:47 AM, June 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poll: Parents not winning popularity contest with kids

Pravda

PEORIA -- Parents' popularity with many kids -- including older kids who refuse to grow up -- is lagging! "Country in disarray," exclaims big Teddy K, "and this administration is to blame!"

The image of parents fell sharply after increasing pressure on offspring to be responsible.

"The image of parents has improved slightly but is still broadly negative," said Andie, director of the Phew Research Center for Kid Power. "It's amazing!" Andie exclaimed in the middle of defiantly downing a bowl of sugar coated Trix. "My parents would prefer I eat Wheaties," he noted conspiratorially, "but I'm my own kid, master of my own destiny!" he pouted.

The poll found suspicion of parents especially among kids allied with the Peter Pan in Perpetuity Foundation, a group dedicated to magical and imaginative adventures, wonderfulness in general and the promotion of a positive image of kids, while also funding legal and other efforts designed to expose the now widely acknowledged nefarious nature of parents.

Polls were taken in April and May with samples of about 1,000 (imagine 100 pairs of hands kids!) in most nurseries, pre-schools and grade schools.

 
At 11:56 AM, June 26, 2005, Blogger Michael B said...

Emmunah, I was having some good natured fun only, no need to explain and hope I didn't offend.

 
At 12:25 PM, June 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hats off to anonymous for the riff on the press release!

It's just a metaphor, but it's so true!

Compared to Americans, most people on the planet are like ignorant children.

 
At 12:49 PM, June 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

US 'in talks with Iraq rebels'

Sunday Times online

"After weeks of delicate negotiation involving a former Iraqi minister and senior tribal leaders, a small group of insurgent commanders apparently came face to face with four American officials seeking to establish a dialogue with the men they regard as their enemies."

 
At 2:49 PM, June 26, 2005, Blogger Emmunah said...

Sorry Michael. I actually knew you were having good natured fun, and I should not have sounded harsh, but evidently I did. I guess I wasn't kidding about how strongly I feel about my militant moderate position. It just brings out the fighter in my like nothing else. I didn't mean to offend anyone either. LOL! Ah the days we live in eh?

 

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