Democrats Say Karl Rove Should Apologize or Resign
White House adviser Karl Rove should either apologize or resign for saying liberals responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes by wanting to “prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,” Democrats said Thursday. Adding to the rancor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested that Republican charges that Democrats were undermining the war on terror with their criticism of administration policies amounted to an act of desperation. “The president wanted to go to Iraq in the worst possible way and he did,” Pelosi said. “The president is on the ropes.”
Bush’s chief political adviser, Rove said in a speech Wednesday that “liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” Conservatives, he told the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, “saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.” Rove said the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for “moderation and restraint” after the terrorist attacks.
Democrats were quick to respond – and in growing numbers. “Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign,” Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement. “I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean called on Bush to “show some leadership and unequivocally repudiate Rove’s divisive and damaging political rhetoric.”
Now, having Pelosi, Reid, and Dean chastising someone for rhetorical overreach is rich. I expect Dick Durbin to come out any moment.
This was a silly thing for Rove to say, to be sure, but hardly beyond the pale of a red meat speech delivered to partisans. Goodness knows, Zell Miller has said worse of his party. And this is minor indeed compared to calling the opposition party “evil,” as Dean has done.
Matt Yglesias takes the remarks in the proper spirit:
I wouldn’t presume to speak for Senator Durbin, but Karl Rove sure has my number. Everything I’ve ever written criticizing the mistreatment of detainees at the hands of the American government has been designed to encourage terrorists to defeat the United States of America and set back the cause of freedom
Of course, Rove isn’t saying that the Democrats want the terrorists to win, he’s just overstating their preference for diplomatic rather than military solutions.
Kevin Drum, though, thinks it far more sinister. He has a photo montage comparing Rove’s statements to those of Sen. Joe McCarthy. In a previous post, he writes,
That’s how the Republican party plays the game these days: accuse Democrats of being traitors and poltroons, and then, when they’re called on it, turn up the volume even higher while simultaneously pretending that they’re just talking about “different philosophies.” This is McCarthy level thuggery, and one can only hope that Karl Rove meets the same bad end as the junior senator from Wisconsin.
I will agree, though, that this bit from Rove was out of bounds:
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.
The first part of that statement is, sadly, decidedly accurate. Rather clearly, though, that was not what motivated Durbin. Durbin’s statements are actually a pretty good illustration of the tendency that Rove was pointing to–a belief that the Jihadists would love us if only we were nicer–but neither Durbin nor any prominent Democrat I can think of actually want to give our enemies ammunition to be used against us.
Update (1730): Peter Daou thinks Rove’s comments “vile,” adding
I spent my youth in Beirut during the height of Lebanon’s civil war, and I fought the Syrian presence in Lebanon long before the “Cedar Revolution.” I watched young boys give their lives and mothers cradle their dying children in blood-soaked arms. I’ve seen more bloodshed, war, and violence, and shot more guns than most of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists combined. I wouldn’t presume to question the strength or dignity of a stranger, and I pity those who blithely push the right=strong, left=weak rhetoric. It says far more about their inadequacies than it does about the target of their scorn. Today, Karl Rove took that rhetoric to a new, filthy low.
I, too, resent the implication that those who disagree are unpatriotic. I just don’t think Rove was making that charge. Again, the DNC Chair has said far worse about Republicans:
-“This is a struggle of good and evil and we’re the good.” February 25, 2005.
-“I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for, but I admire their discipline and their organization.” January, 2005.
-“You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever and get home and still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well Republicans, I guess can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.” June 2, 2005.
-“We’ve suffered a couple of serious defeats. But we’re energized, because we know that our vision for America is much better than the dark, difficult and dishonest vision of the Republican party.” June 2, 2005.
-“The Republicans are all about suppressing votes….” June 2, 2005.
-“We have to be rough on the Republicans. Republicans don’t represent ordinary Americans and they don’t have any understanding of what it is to go out and try and make ends meet.” June 6, 2005.
These comments are geared at exciting the base and helping fundraising. Personally, I find them annoying and ultimately counterproductive. But they’re the types of things opposition parties say about one another.