Andrew Sullivan and Tacitus chime on on the Rove smear of all liberals. Andrew first:
Some defenses of Karl Rove’s rolling out of the “stab-in-the-back” ploy to cover for possible future failure in Iraq have made an important semantic point. They say that the people I cited – Christopher Hitchens, Tom Friedman, Paul Berman, Joe Lieberman, The New Republic, and so on – are not “liberals”. They’re centrists or mavericks or oddballs like yours truly. What Rove was doing, they say, is citing hard-left types like Michael Moore and Moveon.org and Kucinich and the like. He doesn’t mean all mainstream liberals. But this is too clever by half.
The rubric Rove used was the “conservative-liberal” rubric, in which the entire polity is bifurcated into one type or the other. All non-liberals are, in Rove’s rubric, conservatives; and all non-conservatives are liberals. This is in keeping with the very familiar electoral tactic of describing even moderate or centrist Democrats as “liberals” with as broad a brush as possible. Rove, in other words, cannot have it both ways. He cannot both use the word liberal to describe everyone who is not a Republican and then, in other contexts, say he means it only for the hard left. Rove is a smart guy. He picked his words carefully.
A simple addition of the word “some” would have rendered his comments completely inoffensive. But he left that qualifier out. For a reason. I see no difference between his generalizations and Howard Dean’s unhinged rants about Republicans. Except that Rove is running an administration that is running a vital war. With that kind of power should come a tiny bit more responsibility.
Or a touch more dignity and graciousness. Now, on to Tacitus:
The remarkable thing about the excuse-making for Karl Rove is how intellectually dishonest so much of it is.
Yep, you read that right. Read on…
Rove’s ham-handed disingenuousness wasn’t merely inept: it’s not even particularly true.
On a broader point, rhetoric such as this is simply unbecoming to a White House that purportedly seeks to lead the whole of America. While it’s true that pacifist, defeatist leftists such as those at Moveon.org do exist, it’s also true that most self-identified liberals heartily supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the goal — pathetically still unmet after forty-five months — of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. It is further true that most liberals gave the President the benefit of the doubt in the invasion of Iraq. In this group, I count my wife, a liberal and a Democrat both, and a 9/11 refugee from downtown Manhattan to boot; along with many friends.
It’s also true that pacifist, defeatist conservatives exist. No prize for figuring out who they are.
So what was the purpose behind Rove’s remark? The hypothesis is that it was calculated, canny, and well-thought-out, with consequences foreseen and prepared-for. But this is to give too much credit to a man whose effect on the party, in unmooring it from conservative principle in so many ways, has been a long-term negative. If we accept the President’s public actions as indicative of Karl Rove’s own convictions, then the latter has tenuous, at best situational claim to the conservative mantle; certainly not where wartime is concerned. He is a smart man, and even a political genius. But this does not impart those qualities to all he does. In this case, we can call his action what it was: the demagoguery of mediocrity.
And just a reminder, here are just two of the traitorous liberals/Democrats Rove smeared.
So there it is. Liberals deliberately hope to put our troops in greater danger, according to Rove. In other words, Liberals=Traitors.
Anyone who has liberal friends and family members ought to know exactly how rotten and despicable and indefensible that statement is.
Yes, Karl Rove is an ass. But you didn’t need me to tell you that.
This liberal wasn’t calling for therapy. This liberal was calling for bombs.
And there are many, many more.