Under the bus

Karl Rove’s attack operation occasionally picks strange things to get excited about.

The spokesman for deep-pocketed GOP group American Crossroads, Jonathan Collegio, emails that the group considers the Secret Service’s doomsday bus such a soft political target that they expect to put it on TV next fall.

“It’s obscene that Barack Obama’s billion-dollar campaign is chiseling hard-working American taxpayers for a million-dollar campaign bus. Everybody knows that Obama’s bus tour is about his reelection, so he needs to pay the taxpayers back,” says the group’s chairman, Mike Duncan. “We’re going to make a star out of Obama’s million-dollar campaign bus because it symbolizes his presidency: politics instead of results, a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, and a long ride that leads nowhere.”

I don’t doubt some intellectually lazy folks will find this persuasive, but it’s worth appreciating the fact that Rove’s attack operation isn’t really going after President Obama with this nonsense; it’s going after the Secret Service.

American Crossroads believes it was the president who sought “a million-dollar campaign bus.” In Grown-Up Land, the Secret Service purchased two buses, to be used in a variety of circumstances, not just in a campaign context. Previously, the Secret Service made use of more traditional buses retro-fitted with protective armor, but concluded these new vehicles offered better security.

Obama used one of the two buses this week, and will probably do the same next year while seeking re-election. The other one? It will be used by the Republican presidential nominee.

So, when American Crossroads condemns the buses, it’s condemning the security policies of the Secret Service, and when American Crossroads mocks “Obama’s million-dollar campaign bus,” it’s also mocking a bus its own GOP allies will be using this time next year.

I realize Republicans tend to prefer pinata politics — grab a bat and swing wildly until you hit something — but does Karl Rove really see an upside in picking a fight with the U.S. Secret Service? To what end?