Friday, June 24, 2005

Rove drives them wild 

Karl Rove has briefly emerged from the vast underground bunker underneath Washington DC from where he controls the world's affairs to address a New York State's Conservative Party function. Among other things, Rove had this to say:
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
The Dems, predictably, didn't like it. Senator Reid called on Rove to apologize or resign, Senator Clinton found the remarks insulting, Howard Dean divisive and an example of damaging rhetoric (and he should know), Nancy Pelosi thought them a sign of desperation.

Welcome to the wonderful minefield of political rhetoric. What Rove arguably should have said was something like this:
"When most conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; too many liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments, while still others offered therapy and understanding for our attackers."
But we don't use qualifiers too often, because they're messy and they detract from the impact. We regularly sacrifice strict correctness for the sake of brevity, crispness and the force of the prose.

While guilty of making broad - and thus inaccurate - generalization, Rove is correct to point out that all too many liberals, from John Kerry down, insisted that the war on terror should not be a war but a law enforcement operation. And all too many leftists (they're not really liberals, but since the mainstream media insists on calling every socialist a liberal, you can hardly blame Rove for using the commonly accepted Beltway terminology) chose to blame America first.

Both of those propositions can be supported by an avalanche of appropriate quotes, which Rove could have easily quoted to his listeners if only he really wanted to in turn bore and disgust them (and which the GOP Chair subsequently did - hat tip: LGF).

Now, it's nice to see the Democratic Party jump on the "don't question our patriotism" bandwagon, but after a few weeks of deafening silence in response to hysterics by Charles Rangel and Dick Durbin the pitch just doesn't sound right. In fact, the very controversy over Guantanamo demonstrates the point that Rove made: for the right, Gitmo's inmates should be treated like the ununiformed enemy combatants they are (and considering how uniformed enemy combatants have been treated in past conflicts, and indeed are allowed to be treated, Guantanamo is Club Fed); for the left, they should be tried immediately in the court of law (preferably in California) and in the meantime treated with all the creature comforts of federal penitentiaries.

All that Rove could have said is that the conservatives are simply more resolute, more single-minded, and more uncompromising - and therefore more dependable - in the pursuit of the war on terror. But it arguably didn't have the same ring to it.


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