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Karl's New War (11 comments )

Imagine you’re Karl Rove. You’ve got a possible indictment hanging over your head, and the head of the Veep’s main guy, Scooter Libby, in the CIA agent name leak case. Your Capitol Hill roach-stomper, Tom DeLay, just had his mugshot taken following an indictment for laundering of campaign contributions from corporations. Your White House head of procurement, David Safavian, was recently taken away in handcuffs, accused of lying about government dealings with his old friend the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, another insider being investigated for, well, just about everything.

Oh—and you’ve got a boss with plummeting popularity ratings, and troublesome prospects in next year’s midterm congressional elections.

Whew! So being as you’re Karl Rove, you do what Karl is always inclined to do in these situations: create a distraction. A big one. Big enough to suck the metaphorical wind out of the press room.

What’s big enough to compete with such odoriferously spectacular sleaze news? Not much. Except maybe another war. In other words, Wag the Dog.Last Friday, I got a CNN “Breaking News” e-mail: President Bush calls for United Nations to convene after "deeply disturbing" report implicates Syrian officials in assassination.

Of course it’s deeply disturbing that Syria’s leadership should be behind the bomb that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. But it’s hardly surprising, since Syria has for decades meddled in Lebanese politics, occupied the country, probably had a hand in past assassinations in a country where such things are all too common. It was more or less a given that Syria was behind the assassination, with help from Lebanese insiders. The report simply confirmed those suspicions.

But Bush’s UN call is not without specific purpose. In fact, it’s likely part of a two-pronged argument that we’re about to hear: Syria is destabilizing the region at a crucial time, and providing safe haven to terrorists on their way into Iraq. Them’s fighting words, and before long, the media will be convulsed with a debate over yet another possible invasion. (And if you prefer threesomes, to Iraq and Syria, add Iran, about which we’re hearing more tough talk.)

It is highly doubtful that such an invasion will take place, especially given how stretched US military resources are, but it’s a sure bet that this represents the launching of a major political offensive.

That is, get everyone whipped up about the pros and cons of another invasion, including, especially, the costs, in dollars and lives. And, about the goals and appropriateness of the action. Almost by definition, news organizations must always place military issues and possible hostilities ahead of other matters. And the reality is that wars play better: it’s just too darned hard to explain to the public the intricacies of corruption cases – unless the corruption involves something we all get, like a blue dress that needs dry cleaning. Plus, resources, space and time are limited. So all of these creeping –gates, PlameGate, LobbyistGate, DonorGate, etc, can momentarily be shunted away to the inside pages where only the most hardy pay attention to them.

To be sure, an actual arrest and prosecution of someone of Rove’s ‘stature’ would lead the news. But don’t bet on it remaining the topic of conversation once a clarion call is sounded for America to again do its thing for global security. You and I may love to speculate about Scooter, and Karl, and their comrades, but the reality in middle America is far different. Last year, on a flight to Texas, I chatted with my seatmate, a seemingly well-informed software salesman, reasonably affluent, college-educated, moderate, who volunteered that he increasingly didn’t trust Bush. He saw me clutching a copy of the book, “Bush’s Brain,” about Rove. “Who,” he asked, “is that?”

If he and most Americans barely knew who Rove was then, imagine their interest in his fate, and those of even lesser visibility, as the drums of war sound again.

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Posted Comments :

Syria is prong of the fork. The great diversionists will first hit you with 1)Avian Flu, 2)Sadaam Trial, 3)Syria assasination, 4)Iran Nukes, 5)Korea something new, 6)Al Qaida something new. This six pronged attack will be guided by the see what sticks philosophy, while the Miers, Cheney, Libby, Rove, DeLay, Frist, Safavian, Abramoff political crisis peters out to a page ten trickle. This six-prong attack will be aided by the media obsession with kidnapped girls, murdered wives and pedophiles while devoting little to no time on the political crisis and bouncing from prong to prong until something resonates and gets people talking about anything but Miers, Cheney, Libby, Rove, DeLay, Frist, Safavian, Abramoff et al. Team Rove will be dropping political baloons to see what flies until we wake up and demand some answers. The Democrats will be doing the same as always, nothing at all.

Posted by: stanley on October 24, 2005 at 06:10pm
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I agree with Stanley, they're going at this in a multi-pronged effort. Best-advice to all: Ignore them, and keep calling for convictions and impeachment.

Posted by: DeepThroat on October 24, 2005 at 06:45pm
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Wag the dog by attacking Syria? They'd never pull it off. The Generals would revolt, even the Republicans in Congress would never go along with it. They already fear voter anger in 2006 over Iraq. The last act of a desperate cabal.

Posted by: nash on October 24, 2005 at 07:07pm
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Yes, the sabre-rattle playing of the wag-the-Syria card is utterly predictable, but, what do we propose to invade with, the 3rd Mechanized Boy Scout Battalion from Boise?

Fitzmas time draws delightfully nigh.

Posted by: BobbyG on October 24, 2005 at 07:13pm
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What about a domestic incident? I agree with others here that Rove will probably try something major as a diversion, but it has to be something that has impact and cannot possibly be called diversionary, because many more people are aware of the Rove playbook -- right?

Posted by: quantumspin on October 24, 2005 at 07:26pm
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Russ, I'm sure that last year many Americans in the middle of the country had no idea who Karl Rove was. Most of them didn't care.

But times have changed. Sure, some folks probably still don't know what all this is about. They read their local papers and a lot of those are still full of Bushie spin.

But Americans do know - across the board - that they were duped. And they're mad as hell about that.

As much as Karl is an easy target, he's not the point.

This story is about treason. This story is about forging documents to try to trick the UN into supporting war. This story is about creating an elaborate spin machine to sell that false story to America. This story is about sending the sons and daughters of Middle America off to war for no good reason.

Karl's had his rise to power. It was an ugly rise and it's going to continue to be an ugly fall.

But in the end, it won't matter if anyone remembers his name.

In the end, the only thing that matters is getting our country back.

And we're on our way.

Posted by: Raven on October 24, 2005 at 07:29pm
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Diversions like that can only fool the gullible, feeble-minded, and the easily distracted. Repugs!!

Posted by: Ranman on October 24, 2005 at 08:37pm
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It will never happen. Even IF Harriet Miers' pretty little face were not unfairly slathered into the less than flattering two-dimensional world of daily newspaper front pages, Congress would not support another war coming from the bowels of this oval office. In fact, Congress would well serve this country by declaring war on the enemy doing us the most harm - Bush himself.

Posted by: thinker on October 24, 2005 at 08:40pm
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You left out another problem; insider trading charges against Bill Frist.

Posted by: DonB on October 24, 2005 at 09:10pm
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Libby's source was, the Times is reporting, Dick Cheney.

Posted by: BobcatJH on October 24, 2005 at 09:58pm
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Did congress just sign a blank waiver that the administration can declare ALL wars from now on? Don't you think even a significant number of Republicans would put a thumbs down to that one? When does this filth get too awful even for politicians?

Posted by: donna on October 24, 2005 at 10:04pm
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