Karl Rove’s ‘biggest mistake’

KARL ROVE’S ‘BIGGEST MISTAKE’…. The key to dealing with Karl Rove’s presence in American politics is understanding the role he plays. Once one fully appreciates the extent to which he’s a poison in our democracy, smearing our institutions with a pernicious venom, it becomes easier to endure his nonsense without developing an antacid addiction.

But once in a while, Rove’s pathological tendencies are a little harder to take.

This week, for example, the man affectionately called “Turd Blossom” by his boss, used one of his media perches to highlight his “biggest mistake in the White House.” It was a provocative headline, suggesting Rove might actually offer some regret about one of his many damaging missteps, or at least acknowledge an instance in which he was wrong.

What we found, however, was the opposite. Rove’s “biggest mistake,” he said, was not fighting harder against Democrats who questioned Bush’s honesty on the war in Iraq. His column came seven years to the day after Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) concluded that Bush and his team “put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth.” It wasn’t long before this obvious truth became the standard position of the Democratic mainstream.

Rove, in retrospect, believes the real problem wasn’t the Bush White House’s deceptions, but rather, the Bush White House’s tolerance for those who pointed out those deceptions. (thanks to reader F.B. for the reminder)

At the time, we in the Bush White House discussed responding but decided not to relitigate the past. That was wrong and my mistake: I should have insisted to the president that this was a dagger aimed at his administration’s heart. What Democrats started seven years ago left us less united as a nation to confront foreign challenges and overcome America’s enemies.

We know President Bush did not intentionally mislead the nation. Saddam Hussein was deposed and eventually hung for his crimes. Iraq is a democracy and an ally instead of an enemy of America. Al Qaeda suffered tremendous blows in the “land between the two rivers.” But Democrats lost more than the election in 2004. In telling lie after lie, week after week, many lost their honor and blackened their reputations.

I honestly can think of very few people in American public life who lies as frequently and shamelessly as Karl Rove, making his admonishments as ironic as they are infuriating.

In Rove’s bizarro world, it wasn’t Bush’s spectacular failures that undermined the nation, it was the nerve of Democrats to point out that nearly all of the claims the former president made about a war turned out to be false. In this strange alternate reality, those who lied and failed are the heroes, while those who called out the liars “lost their honor and blackened their reputations.”

It’s quite literally nauseating.

But as long as Rove’s interested in the anniversary of Ted Kennedy’s criticism, let’s also note what else happened the week of July 15, 2003. The estimable emptywheel reminds us that the day before Kennedy pointed to the Bush administration’s falsehoods, a column from Bob Novak ran, outing Valarie Plame as a CIA operative. It was published soon after Karl Rove and his fellow hatchetmen worked the phones, leaking classified information, including an effort to punish and discredit Plame’s husband for telling the truth about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent nuclear program.

But now Rove would have us believe the White House decided not to respond to critics.

Karl, get help. It’s just not healthy to be this far detached from reality.

Postscript: By the way, if you wanted to help remind Rove of what his actual “biggest mistake” might be, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section.