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Rove claims Bush ‘never’ let aides question Dems’ patriotism or motives

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, May 22, 2010 15:07 EDT
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Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove has a unique talent for escaping the consequences of making transparently false statements.

Out and about on his book tour, the Bush administration’s architect appears to have been in typical form at a Borders Books in Oklahoma City this week, telling a crowd that President Bush “never” allowed aides to name-call opponents or question their patriotism and motives.

However, Rove personally engaged in all of these on a regular basis during the Bush administration.

“President Bush, for example, never allowed a White House staffer or administration spokesman to go out and do what this administration and our predecessor routinely did — that is to engage in calling the leaders of the opposition party disparaging labels and question their motives,” Rove said, according to reporter Bryan Dean with The Oklahoman.

“In fact, Rove and other members of the Bush administration were routinely critical of opponents to the Iraq war and questioned their patriotism, and Rove questioned the patriotism of first lady Michelle Obama in 2008 while her husband was seeking the Democratic nomination for president,” Dean wrote.

“Rove and other commentators criticized Michelle Obama in February 2008 when she said, ‘For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.’ On Monday, Rove incorrectly attributed that quote to Barack Obama.”

Another example of the Bush administration’s actions contradicting Rove’s recent claim is the Valerie Plame scandal, in which the administration sought to directly retaliate against prominent war critic Joe Wilson by outing his wife’s status as a covert CIA agent working on nuclear non-proliferation efforts. RAW STORY later revealed that Plame was working in Iran, with intelligence sources claiming her outing caused “severe” damage to her undercover teams and hampered the CIA’s efforts to keep tabs on Iran’s nuclear program.

Rove’s book, Courage and Consequence, has been lashed in the press as “a cherry-picking of history”. According to reports, Rove’s self-portrayal as an innocent victim hounded by Plame-case special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald overlooks the fact that it was he himself who let the “persecution” play out by not acknowledging at the time that he was the person who confirmed Plame’s identity as a CIA agent to columnist Robert Novak.

Instead, he allowed press secretary Scott McClellan to lie on his behalf when the scandal broke and continued to let that lie stand over the next two years.

McClellan has since broken from his former colleagues and accuses Rove of “living in his own world.”

“He’s the only one that thinks that he was not involved in any effort to expose Valerie Plame’s CIA employment,” the former Bush press secretary told MSNBC. “He continues this cover story that ‘I didn’t know her name’ and for that reason, he couldn’t have leaked her name.”

Rove was never indicted.

An even more flagrant example of Rove contradicting his statements in Oklahoma, Think Progress noted, came amid the 2008 campaigns, when “Rove cast doubt on now-President Obama’s patriotism by attacking him for not wearing a flag pin — even though Rove wasn’t wearing one at the time — and criticized Michelle Obama for not showing ‘adequate enough‘ patriotism after she had given a lengthy speech professing her love of country.”

Rove also rankled his political foes repeatedly during the Bush-era by claiming that liberals who sought to end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan really wanted American soldiers to get injured. While he’s drawn a line in some public statements, suggesting that whatever false and rhetorical charge he’d leveled “doesn’t make [Democrats] unpatriotic,” then proceeding to demean his opponents in every way possible.

In the campaign arena, where broader themes of political messaging are the true communicators, with individual narratives by both campaigns competing for public acceptance, Rove’s core strategy in 2004 was to cast opposition to President Bush as “unpatriotic”. He succeeded on a high enough level to supposedly put the Republican on top.

Unfortunately for Rove — now out of power and plotting a comeback — much of his experience on the world’s stage has been meticulously tracked by thousands of journalists, making flagrantly false claims like his statements in Oklahoma City much harder to slip through unnoticed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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