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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Animal House politics



In the movie Animal House the beleaguered frat boys facing expulsion decided to go on a road trip. Faced with eroding public support for President Bush's war in Iraq the White House frat boys and girls are adopting a similar approach.

Unfortunately for all of us this is not a carefree movie comedy classic. The divide and conquer strategy comes from Bush's Brain, Karl Rove. The message at a New York Republican fundraiser; if you oppose the war, if you question policy at Gitmo, if you even think about questioning it, you're a wimp and a traitor.

The Rovian Twist -- wrap your comments in the 911 Tragedy:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in 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."... "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
After 25 years in journalism I'm a political agnostic. One of the best lessons I ever learned in the business is to look at the timing of a political operative. In this case why such an incendiary comment now?

The Bush administration is losing the hearts and minds of the American public because of the war in Iraq. They need to re-frame the discussion. 60-percent oppose the war. We're losing a battalion a month either killed or injured and its costing taxpayer’s $5-billion a month.

Yes, Rove wants to reframe the discussion and siphon off media coverage that would have gone to today's war hearings on Capitol Hill. Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and top war General John Abizaid were on the hot seats. In a moment of Republican candor, Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina told Rummy, "People are beginning to question. And I don't think it's a blip on the radar screen. We have a chronic problem on our hands."

Doc Rove's prescription, a liberal application of the "L" word and hoping the mention of 911 will innoculate the Bush Administration.

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