March 22, 2003
You gotta hand it to Karl Rove

I'm sure it will come as a great comfort to everyone to hear that according to Karl Rove, the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with politics.

"It is really the height of cynicism to suggest a president would make the awesome decision to send people in harm's way for politics," Rove said. "He did this because he believes fervently that after 9/11, that the world has changed."

You have to give the man credit. A lesser mortal would have burst into flames immediately upon saying such a thing after having told the RNC last summer that "[we] can go to the country on this issue, because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America", but it's just another day at the office for the Rovemeister.

Although thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in several U.S. cities to protest the war, Rove said he did not see that as any kind of solid opposition to the president. He said polls have shown the American public has consistently favored the ouster of Saddam Hussein as the leader of Iraq, even if they differed on how to do it.

"In the last few days, the polls have indicated a vast majority of Democrats support the president's actions," Rove said. "This is not an issue about politics. This is an issue of what is best for world peace and the nation's security."

Polls are showing about 75% support for this invasion. That's about the level of support for Gulf War I, though it's interesting to note this particular difference:

Two weeks ago, 54 percent approved of the way Bush was leading the country, according to the New York Times/CBS Poll. Thursday's poll found 67 percent approving of how the president does his job.


In 1991, then-President Bush's job approval rating jumped to 82 percent in the early days of the Persian Gulf War, eventually peaking at 88 percent.

Make of that what you will.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 22, 2003 to Iraq attack | TrackBack

[Comment spam removed]

Posted by: Wolfie on March 22, 2003 10:34 AM

You are mixing apples and oranges. I don't think the president would send troops into combat for politics but once the decision has been made the politcal operatives like Rove must find what advantage from it that they can. That is their job, whichever way the president goes they have to make use of that.

Posted by: Starhawk on March 22, 2003 7:07 PM

That kind of hypocrisy literally takes my breath away. I really don't think Dante's punishment for hypocrites--crushed by leaden cloaks--is nearly good enough. I'm hoping for something more like the evil counsellors (confined in eternal flame) or sowers of discord (eternally hacked to pieces). Just a thought.

Oh, and as for Wolfie's remark, why should we believe for a second that Shrub is acting for the good of all mankind? North Korea has Seattle in her sights and all the Son of Heaven does is throw a tantrum when it's suggested he talk to Kim.

Posted by: Ken on March 22, 2003 7:11 PM

Oops--sorry, Wolfie. I see it was Starhawk's post.

Posted by: Ken on March 22, 2003 9:02 PM

I think Starhawk makes a reasonable point, and I'd like to address it.

I don't think anyone can argue that the War on Terror was a major campaign issue in 2002, an issue that was pressed by the Republican Party. Further, I don't think anyone can argue that President Bush has pushed a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, and that this was a large part of the justification for invasion. The evidence for this connection is tenuous at best, but it has been stated repeatedly by the President and his advisors.

If one accepts that the Republican victories last November are a result of the Iraq/War On Terror message, then it's reasonable to conclude that President Bush was forced to follow through on his promise to oust Saddam Hussein. To back down and accept some form of weapons inspections, which might have resulted in Hussein remaining in power, would have meant that the rhetoric of the 2002 campaign was meaningless. There would have been a political price to pay for that.

Given that, this invasion was driven at least in part by politics. You can certainly argue that the invasion was good policy (I disagree, but there is a good case for it), but it wouldn't have happened without Karl Rove. For that reason, I find Rove's statement to be highly hypocritical.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 22, 2003 10:29 PM

You know, if Clinton had gone after al-Qaeda with US troops in 1998, there would have been screams from the same folks who are telling us now that the President would never send troops into harm's way for political gain. (As well as from many on the antiwar left, I might add.)

Bush is doing what he thinks is right, sure, but thinking political calculus plays no role in this war is either hopelessly naive or stunningly hypocritical.

Also, Chuck, the first poster on this thread is a blog comment spammer. Just so you know.

Posted by: Ginger on March 23, 2003 12:15 AM

Thanks, Ginger. I've banned him.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 23, 2003 2:53 PM