Karl Rove is a hypocrite. I know that’s hard to believe. And you’re going to need a chunk of proof before accepting that conclusion. So let me give it my best shot.
In April, Rove delivered a speech at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Trying to come across as a statesman (instead of a hack political strategist), he urged participants in today’s tough political and policy debates to engage in high-minded discourse. “Most people I know on both sides of the aisle,” he remarked, “believe in the positions they take.” He continued, “Unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, commentators should answer arguments instead of impugning the motives of those with whom they disagree.”
Let’s see how well he takes his own advice. Last night, Rove was interviewed by NBC News’ David Gregory on Hardball. Gregory began the sit-down by asking Rove about the recent vote in the Senate on the John Bolton nomination. Democrats had once again prevented an up-and-down vote because the Bush White House had continued to withhold information they had requested regarding Bolton. Rove replied,
Well it’s sad. I mean they’re putting their commitment to politics above their commitment to doing what’s right for the country.
That sure sounds as if Rove is impugning the motives of the Democrats. Isn’t it just possible that they really do want to see whether Bolton misused classified information or tried to stretch intelligence? Gregory asked, “Why not give the Democrats what they’re asking for. They’re asking for names related to these [National Security Agency] intercepts to answer the question whether Bolton retaliated against criticism of the administration?” Rove did not respond directly. He repeated himself:
I say it shows that their commitment to politics is above their commitment for doing what’s right for this country.
So his first statement impugning the Democrats was no slip. Rove was arguing not merely that the Democrats are wrong in their policy views but that they put politics above national interest. Certainly, it was his perogative to make such a case. And there are times I would argue that Rove and his pupil take actions that serve their political interests more than those of the public. But this exchange with Gregory demonstrated that Rove was not being honest when he addressed those college students. If he was paid an honorarium, Washington College should ask for its money back.
Don’t forget about DAVID CORN’s BLOG at www.davidcorn.com. Read recent postings on Corn’s battle with The Washington Post over Deep Throat stories, Business Week‘s bashing of corporate lobbyists, and Gitmo and Halliburton.
The Rove-Gregory session also contained a number of other illuminating exchanges. When Gregory asked him why most Americans, according to recent polls, now believe the war in Iraq is not worth the cost, Rove–perhaps adopting the reality-denying ways of his boss–refused to accept Gregory’s premise about popular sentiment on the war. He also repeatedly said that Americans do not want to see the United States “turn tail and run,” thus equating calls for setting a timetable for withdrawing US troops with cowardly retreat. (Expect more of this, as talk of withdrawal spreads among members of Congress from both parties.) And when Gregory inquired as to whether Rove agreed with Dick Cheney that the insurgency in Iraq is in “its last throes,” Rove sidestepped the query. Instead, he said,