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June 25, 2005


Barry Dauphin

Of course, Andrew Sullivan has been recently earning a living via the use of broad strokes. Sully sees his mirror image in his portrait of Rove. Sullivan describes Rove's comments as "sickening" but split every hair possible to paint Durbin's comments as basically sensible and uncontroversial.

creepy dude

Really TM-who's backpedaling now?-your last post was "Defending Karl Rove" and you had all sorts of certified creeps show up to actually defend him in that thread.

Now you're saying Rove might not be a genius?

Come on TM-you're a decent fellow-don't be scared to let your inner integrity out.

Does Rove speak for you or not?

Geek, Esq.

This will all be forgotten by next week.

Karl Rove pulled a Howard Dean this week. Nothing more, nothing less. (In consequential terms. People are free to evaluate the relative honesty of statements that the Republican party is a white Christian party and that liberals are a bunch of pacifist wimps).

Voice of Reason
People are free to evaluate the relative honesty of statements that the Republican party is a white Christian party and that liberals are a bunch of pacifist wimps).

Maybe they both are exactly as portrayed and, we in the middle just have to split the difference and play them off against one another.


But no whining from the right about media bias if they don't - Karl has to know the water in which he swims, and in which he floated this story.

So we're not allowed to say the press is biased because it's already established and known that the press is biased? As we say down in JesusLand, that dog don't hunt.

(By the way, I've got a t-shirt with the Rove quote on the back available from CafePress at my web site if anyone's interested.)

Geek, Esq.

The media failing to do exactly as Karl Rove wants is not evidence of liberal bias.

Cecil Turner

". . .or does he think in terms of a liberal base, a conservative base, and a great unwashed stumbling about elsewhere in the political savanna?"

Are you suggesting the electorate is "metrofurcated"?

Ryan Waxx

Stephan: Actually, I think he means that if the media do not dredge up past examples of liberal malfeasance, it is due to Rove's inability to manipulate them properly.

Which SOUNDS reasonable, but is actually the opposite from the way press bias actually works: except in the most egregious examples, reporters are not commanded to go get something to bash conservatives - the bias instead manifests as which sources are trusted vs who is taken with a grain of salt. You can detect it with which political position gets quoted ONCE, while the rest of the article exists to make that quote look foolish. And most especially where the reporter chooses to expend research effort.

Ryan Waxx

Or in simpler terms, since I see there are some graid skool minds here(I'm looking at you, Geek), I'll put it in simpler terms:

People who want to be manipulated are the easiest people in the world to manipulate. Dan Rather did not type the ANWR memos himself... but he was perfectly willing to play the role of trusting rube when the candyman came knocking. Same difference when Newsweek threw their credibility in the general direction of a anonymous source who told them what they wanted to hear.


Stephan: Actually, I think he means that if the media do not dredge up past examples of liberal malfeasance, it is due to Rove's inability to manipulate them properly.

Which SOUNDS reasonable, but is actually the opposite from the way press bias actually works...

Well, press bias works in many ways - my point is simply that, if this speech was given for tactical, news management reasons, it will be a bit silly for Rove's backers to argue that his valid point was muddied by a hostile media - OF COURSE the media is hostile. That would be like saying [INSERT bizarre simile here, e.g., "we would have captured Osama if he weren't hiding where he has so many supporters and there are so many mountains].

OTOH, if this sppech was just a sincere, uncalculated attempt by Karl to delineate the issues, then his supporterst can argue that an unsympathetic press mischaracterized him. To which some (including I) will reply, gee, a genus might have anticipated that - a red meat speech about 9/11 in Manhattan, and people noticed? Do tell.

And Irish, who wonders about my real view - You can't judge a post by its title. I stand by my earlier waffling, which included such escape hathces and secret exits as:

First, let me say that they don't pay me quite enough to wade into this - even though Karl was speaking to a partisan audience, he had to know this would make news, and he might have opted for a more temperate tone.

As a matter of political tactics, this could work well for Rove, or backfire - time will tell.

As to content, well, "Political Strategist Gives Partisan Speech At Political Event". Wow.

As to the evidently-tender feelings of the many outraged Dems, years of hearing Reps described as heartless, racist, warmongering lunatics who want to starve the poor and throw the elderly onto the streets has left me a bit inured. Sorry.

Scott Harris

I think the quick release of the "memo" delineating liberal quotations rules out the accident thesis. The quotes were premeditated, and designed to arouse the response they got. We can argue about whether that response is really a good thing or not, but so far, the Democrats seem to be dancing to Karl Rove's tune.


Yikes, being admonished by Andrew "Apocalypse Now" ("You must learn to love hysteria") Sullivan for making overly-broad and imprecise statements is something to take notice of. If not primarily for the giggles it provides. On the other hand, Colonel Kurtz, er, Sullivan will likely contradict his critique within 48 hours. (I was going to mention Taranto tearing him a new one but I think we'll let that mental picture pass).

But the fact that someone as erratic as AS has merit in an argument criticizing broad brush allegations means that the argument must be pretty weak. [Although, my guess is that a quick check of Sullivan's comments 2-3 years ago will show some remarkably similar statements by him about the left and the WOT.]

This was dumb by Rove. Dumb, wrong and unfair - a hat trick in political ineptitude (and hey, who really misses hockey anyway?). Geezus, he knows how the press is going to report this. Watching Harry "constitutional scholar" Reid and Nancy "does her face ever move?" Pelosi on their high horses is a bit much. Rove doesn't need to help them saddle up.

First, it puts the WH on the defensive. Granted, they can come back and cite the statements by the liberals organized to oppose neocons (LOONs) to buttress the charge. But he could have done this at the beginning by qualifying his statements from the start. Viz., some liberals, many liberals, or elite liberals (that's a twofer that would have really sealed the deal). Second, politically, the WH and Republican goal - just as it's the Dems goal on domestic issues - is to emphasize those issues that divide Democrats. Force the moderate sensible Dems to confront the LOONS. MoveOn and DKos have been preening recently; time to knock those sensible, charming folks down a bit.

Third, to do this right before Bush is planning a major address on Iraq complicates things even further.

Small storm, sound and fury and all that. But just not helpful at this time.



This analysis is absurd. Rove threw out the bait; the dopey Dems bit on the bait, and now they're hanging at the end of the line, wondering what in hell happened to them.

The politics of war is about nothing if it isn't about broad strokes. One can make all the nuanced differences by degree or shades of gray, but at the end of the day when a decision has to be made in which lives are put at risk, everything iterates down to confront one with black or white; yes or no, go or no go. “Yes, but” is for disengaged philosophers enamored with qualified support, qualified commitment, qualified tactics. Men do not ask other men to risk their lives with qualified support, qualified commitment, qualified tactics. It is the reason why limited wars are so difficult to fight, and so difficult for democratic polities to sustain. So Rove calls out liberals for their qualified support of national defense dissolving into believing “it was time to... submit a petition.”

So then the Dems failed to declaim Durbin's calumny; yet they rail against Rove's defining them exactly for their failure to do so: "Conservatives see the United States as a great nation engaged in a noble cause; liberals see the United States and they see ... Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia. Has there been a more revealing moment this year than when Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, speaking on the Senate floor, compared what Americans had done to prisoners in our control at Guantanamo Bay with what was done by Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot - three of the most brutal and malevolent figures in the 20th century? Let me put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts to the region the words of Senator Durbin, certainly putting America's men and women in uniform in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

So no whining from the Left or calling Rove's comments unfair - they and we know the water in which we all swim, and in which he made his accusation. Absolutes may offend, but the reality is we are at war. Either you support the war or you do not. Either you want victory or you do not. Either you are with us or the enemy. All the rest is mental masturbation.


Sorry, if you think ALL liberals are the way Rove characterized them, go to Arlington National Cemetery.

Go to the Gulfport Memorial Cemetery where my Dad is buried along with his fellow Marines, some of whom were lifelong Democrats and a (few) liberals.

I'm sure that there are some self-described liberals over in Iraq right now fighting for us. You want to include them in Rove's charge?

If you think we (and I'm on Rove's side politically) can paint with this broad brush then I guess it's okay for liberals to say conservatives are all racists or bigots or homophobes. When they do that - and they WILL - your comeback is what?

Sorry, include me out of your little club. Not that you invited me anyway.


Mike G

You know, it's nice that you went to the trouble of explaining all this, but all you've done is fall into a semantic trap of horseshit.

I've had this thrown back in my face several times-- "ALL liberals do this?" "ALL leftists say that?" As if the same people weren't making generalizations ten times grosser all the time, calling all Republicans fascists, Bush Hitler, etc.

It's just a way to dodge having to deal with the issues. Andrew Sullivan names every person even remotely left of the far right who was pro war on terror. His list only leaves nearly every Democratic senator and presidential candidate, most of the reporters, editors, anchormen, etc. for most of the media, every movie star in Hollywood, every academic in America except Victor Davis Hanson, etc. etc. So I guess you're right-- it wasn't EVERY LAST ONE, therefore there's no validity to the point at all!


Brown Line

Dear Steve,

Rove was speaking before a meeting sponsored by the New York Conservative Party. It is natural in that setting for him to speak of what distinguishes conservatives from liberals in the political sphere.

You are correct when you say some (many?) liberals recognize the need to fight Islamofascism, and who recognize the need to see the war in Iraq through to the end even if they had reservations about starting the war in the first place. (In truth, every thinking person should have reservations about going to war - there is no more profound and terrible decision a government can make.)

I have the deepest respect to your father and the many liberals who fought and suffered for our country. However, respect for the truth compels to point out that while in your father's day, the word "liberal" described men like Paul Douglas, Henry Jackson, and Harry Truman, in 2005 that word means creatures like Al Sharpton, Ted Kennedy, and Michael Moore. Which is a damn shame.

I'm a conservative to the tips of my fingers, but I miss real liberalism. I miss the political movement that had a serious, grown-up view of the world, with which I could debate and disagree without rancor - a movement from which I could learn, and which was willing to learn from me. The hijacking of the word "liberal" by the Sharptons and Moores is by no means the least of the wounds they've inflicted on our country.


I'd guess that the real target of Rove is Hillary, and her attempts to move rightward before the election. After all, Rove eats, sleeps, and thinks electoral politics and campaigns, and he made his speech in NYC. His speech and the ultimate fallout forces Hillary into something of a tough spot: does she side with the well-heeled moonbat brigade who'll fund her campaign, or does she continue her current centrist strategy of "being Presidential" and looking like an adult?

If I were Machiavellian, I'd wonder if the whole Durbin flap was to set up a fat pitch for Hillary to crank out and look centrist, which Rove denied this by forcing Hillary in a position where an attempt at a Sister Souljah moment at Durbin's expense would have her in the impossible position of siding with the man who is the Great Satan to all lefties?



It's not "my little club;" it's how they (the Left) are playing the game. They cannot have it both ways - calling our troops Nazis, Soviet gulag goons or Pol Pot's mass murderers (and then fail to declaim those remarks) - and then take umbrage for Rove taking them to task for both their obvious half-hearted lukewarm-at-best support for the war and inability to defend the honor of the U.S. and its soldiers when publicly dishonored by a U.S. Senator.

So, sneer at me from your lofty perch of insulated misunderstanding (and just where the hell did you get the idea that I "think ALL liberals are the way Rove characterized them" anyway?) if it makes you feel better. You might take another look and realize the domestic political battle over the war and the nation's security is far more difficult, and much more likely to be lost, than the war in Iraq. Just as Giap knew he could not defeat the U.S. on the battlefield but that he could secure victory by undermining the nation's political will to win, so too do the Islamic fascists. If I were a neutral observer I’d think the Islamic fascists have a pretty good chance of winning their bet.

But I don’t want the enemy to win his bet. I've long been out of the Army, so I can't pick up my steel pot and 16 and patrol the streets of Baghdad; but I can help by trying to show others that the liberals are actively working to undermine our will to win (and if you don’t think they are, you fail to understand the problem).

That might offend you as painting with too broad a brush, offend your sensibilities; offend your sense of fairness; offend your sense of manners; sorry to offend. But until the liberals and the Left start policing their own for dishonorable and even disloyal statements (and so far they haven't and so far they don't); I'm not going to sit idly by and let them get away with it, nor let them undermine our will to win; or to let our soldiers' deaths be in vain. It is long past time to choose sides, “my little club” notwithstanding, and I’m glad Rove is calling them their dishonesty, their dishonor and their disloyalty. It is about time someone in high position did so.

Regarding "If you think we (and I'm on Rove's side politically) can paint with this broad brush then I guess it's okay for liberals to say conservatives are all racists or bigots or homophobes," notwithstanding your being on Rove’s side politically; 1) you misread Rove's comments; 2) they (including their last president) already say those things about us, and nothing we say or do will change or stop them from doing so. They don't argue in good faith, and they play for keeps. It is about time we do the same. Oh, one last thing: “my little club?” It won the election, so it’s bigger than the other club.

M. Simon

The Republicans were down on FDR during all of WW2.

"National unity", except for the first weeks after an attack, is an illusion.


Brown Line:
Thank you for those very kinds words. I appreciate it. My father served near the end of WWII, in Korea and Vietnam. He died this past October. He's buried with some of his Marine friends around him.

I visited his grave last Father's Day and what was enormously sad is that next to his grave and the others (and most are men who died in their 70s and 80s) are two new graves of men who (I believe) died in Iraq. Ages 20 and 21. Their tombstones have Iraq etched on it; so maybe they died elsewhere (car accident? training mishap?). But I think not.

We here today are standing on the shoulders of those giants. Not liberal giants or conservative giants or Republican giants or Democrat giants.

Just giants.

Who cannot weep for them? For their sacrifices that gave us these gifts we have here? They didn't fight and bleed and die for liberalism. Or for conservatism. Or for Republicanism. They fought for something a whole lot more important than those transient ideas.

Why these gentleman can't understand that is beyond my meager skills to explain.

Okay, so I sound arrogant or condescending or whatever. It's what I believe with every fiber in my body and if they don't like it, it's their loss not mine.



I apologize for the sneer. It wasn't my intent but now that I look back at my words, it's a fair description.

And this is not a Durbin non-apology apology.

Again, mea culpa.



When speaking of any group with an agenda, advocates, leaders and followers it is appropriate to refer to the group regardless of some who might claim the label yet disagree with portions of the agenda.

Some in the communist party simply wanted to be safer and have better stuff. That doesn't make it wrong to claim the communists wanted to spread communism worldwide.

The broad brush whining reminds me of Muslims who complain loudly about bias but say nothing critical of actions and support for Islamic terror. If liberals can't bring themselves to criticise their own, let them shut up when others say what needs to be said.


Excellent point. We speak in shorthand.

But Rove knows - or should have - how his words would be twisted or used, misreported by the press, et cetera.

And my larger point I think remains valid. Viz., if Rove had distinguished between MoveOn versus sensible liberals (and there are some), he could have driven a wedge between or among those groups. Force the sensible types to denounce and disassociate themselves from the loons.

Right now, the W.H. and Rove have to spend energy detailing which groups he was talking about. He's on the defensive instead of the "sensible" liberals. We can complain it's unfair, we can complain that liberals are 100 times worse. But it's to no avail. One has to deal with the world the way it is; not the way we wish it to be.

"I wish" is for children.

The press will not go after the "bad" liberals. We know that. We must force the "good" liberals to go after the bad ones.



Part of the problem here is that the people Rove aims his remarks at are not liberals in any sense of the word. They are leftists, socialists, communists, environmentalists, radical feminists, etc, but they are not liberals. There is nothing liberal about their politics. Liberalism within the Democratic party took ill in 1930, and it died in 1968.

Liberalism, properly defined is the belief in constitutionalism, individual rights, and the rule of law. The Democrats stole the term, the Republicans let them, and now it is used as if it were a synonym for socialism. It is not.

Yes, the left hates America. They must, because it stands for everything they oppose. True liberals believe in the US, though, and believe that the future of human freedom depends on defending this country by every means available. We do not agree with conservatives who would abandon the consitution and the rule of law to legislate their religious beliefs, but with regard to the war, we are in substantial agreement.

We have no party which represents our viewpoint 100%, but find ourselves with little choice than to support the Republicans until the Democratic party completes its intellectual collapse and something better takes its place. Until then, I will continue to wear the 'liberal' label with pride, and interpret conservative blather about liberals as directed at leftists. When the leftists have fallen into the dustbin of history, conservatives will find that true liberals do not make such easy targets for caricature.



Apology accepted; I in turn am sorry this discussion deteriorated to this point. While "I wish" may be for children, I do think some (many?) of us wish we could find some degree of national unity during this war.

But I don't see that being restored; I see the hard, anti-war left animating and driving the Democratic Party NOW (and, like you, I honor all the sacrifices of ALL Americans past and present, irrespective of any political affiliations that are utterly pointless during combat, and wish Democrats had men like Roosevelt, Truman and J. Kennedy in their midst again), and it makes me deeply angry.

I want to win; I know only we can defeat ourselves by losing our will to win; I see the leaders of the Democratic Party pandering to the likes of MoveOn.org and others like them in their reactionary, reflexive hatred; I don't see other Democrats and liberals policing their own, especially when our troops are compared to Nazis; and so I cheer for Rove's comments because, frankly, I think it is time they take responsibility for themselves. I don't see the Democrats doing that on their own (why else is Howard Dean, of all people, chairman of the party?). If it takes Rove to shame them into doing so, fine by me.

Finally, I just don't see the White House expending much energy on his comments, let alone playing defense. I suspect they knew these comments were coming, and had prepared their response in advance.

Otherwise, may peace be with you, as well as with your father’s soul.

richard mcenroe

Can we please, once and for all, dispense with the Big Lie that the Democratic "fringe" is NOT the voice of the Democratic Party? Of course it is. How long does it take some toxic meme to bubble up out of the mire of the DU or Daily Kos before we hear it being repeated on the floor of the Congress by Dean and Durbin, Reid, Kennedy, Byrd, Rangel or some other icon of the Democratic Party?


Thank you. Very kind.

I share all of your frustrations and anger over the behavior and tactics of too many on the liberal/left.

And yes, sometimes we have to fight fire with fire. Bareknuckles and all that. Politics ain't beanbag as the saying go.

But we can't lose sight - as they seem to do - that our real _true_ enemy wish to literally cut our heads off.

Liberals and leftists are our political adversaries. Okay, enemy, if one has to use that term. But they're not our physical enemies.

Not yet. May God help us if that day ever comes.



During WW2, did the Republican party try and disrupt supply shipments to the warzone and use every power they could muster to discourage everyone from enlisting?

Back during those days, behavior like that would be identified as treason, and the people that were caught would eventually be executed.

If any Republicans had been critical of FDR during WW2, it would have remained simply rhetorical bickering (like "are you doing the very best job you can blah blah BLAH") and it wouldn't be important enough to even reflect on it. That's just the way things were done back then.


Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. I was wondering why someone as smart as Rove would pull this, and I mean, everyone knows Iraq is sinking in the polls -- but I just saw the Ramussen poll. Is this desperation? More Americans blame Bush than Saddam for the war. That can not be a good sign.

Jim C.

Tim wrote, "Does Hillary get it?"

Foobarista wrote, "If I were Machiavellian, I'd wonder if the whole Durbin flap was to set up a fat pitch for Hillary to crank out and look centrist".

She's trying to be a centrist? She's pontificating on her website about raising the level of debate? Earlier this month she made remarks reported in the NY Times. From the article (in pay archive):

"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda...

"I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing... It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

Mrs. Clinton described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even "destroy" the Senate to gain political advantage over the Democratic minority. She also labeled the House of Representatives as "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership," where individual members are all but required to vote in lock-step with the majority's agenda...

"We can't ever, ever give in to the Republican agenda," she declared. "It isn't good for New York and it isn't good for America."


Josh, you are going to enlist right? One of my friends is his unvoluntary second tour in Iraq. I'm sure he'd lkove for you to take his place. Nothing funnier than seeing chicken hawks on parade. Or all these young conservatives telling us why someone else needs to go, not them. Feel free to borrow an excuse from them, if you can't think of anything on your own. (via atrios).


The political “Left” may be our political enemy, but it is effectively running the Democratic Party. I’m sorry if that offends Democrats who don’t wish to be tarred with a broad brush, but in politics nuances get lost. If so-called moderate Democrats can define the difference between MoveOn.org, Dean, Durbin, Pelosi, Reid, Kennedy, Byrd, Rangel, Kos and Michael Moore please go ahead. I have named the leadership of the Democratic Party and the so-called fringe. Please itemize for me the way they differ.


Moneyrunner, you're right about nuances, screw them. Why the hell are you not in Iraq right now, fighting the GWoT? Why do you hate America? The military is falling short of its recruitment goals -- WHY ARE YOU NOT SIGNING UP, RIGHT NOW?


Oh, that was a good one Jor. What a comeback. You're right. You win the argument.



, but in politics nuances get lost. .... can define the difference ...

Why can't you "define the difference", obviously the nuances have gotten lost on me. So help me out.


Okay, you made the point. Not much of one, to be blunt.

I see that liberals are saying, pace Rove, that they were FOR Afghanistan but NOT Iraq.

Well, we're still cleaning up in Afghanistan. Can I use the chickenhawk argument against those on the left that supported going into that Asian nation?

I guess I could but it wouldn't contribute anything to the issues.

Not to blow smoke up your nether regions, Jor, but you're much too smart to post stuff like this.



Objectively speaking SteveMG, no Jor is not too smart. Or he would not be posting stuff like this.

Jim Rockford

Jor, like it or not THIS is the front line as much as Iraq. Or Afghanistan. To put it another way, on 9/11 3,000 Americans died (supposedly, had the planes hit later in the day around 11 am it could have been 14,000).

There is no front line, there is no rear, there is no homefront. Attacks HERE don't come daily, as in the Iraq or Afghan theaters, but when they DO come they come with massive casualties and kill LOTS of people.

If we withdraw or look weak in Iraq or Afghanistan either/both Iran and Pakistan will be forced to give bin Laden a few nukes, and things will be worse. Lose a few million and a few cities and the US will be terrifying indeed. We never used our strategic nuclear arsenal. Bin Laden nukes a few cities and we will, guaranteed. THAT's the stakes we play for let's not pretend otherwise.

The enemy will not hesitate and never has in killing as many innocent and defenseless Americans on our own soil as possible. He has consistently escalated his attacks. Don't delude yourself.

Paul Zrimsek

I'm glad someone brought up the old "chickenhawk" putdown, as it bears on the liberal defense in an interesting way: if liberals were really as keen to attack the Taliban as we're hearing, then they should be subject to the chickenhawk sneer WRT Afghanistan just as we on the right are supposed to be WRT Iraq. It follows that anyone who launches a chickenhawk attack from the left is either (1) claiming to have volunteered for Afghanistan; (2) outing himself as a chickenhawk; (3) outing himself as a fringe lefty as opposed to a liberal; or (4) admitting that liberals weren't necessarily as big on going into Afghanistan as they would now have us believe-- and therefore that Rove may have a point.


I don't buy the Afghanistan but not Iraq argument. Afghanistan was no more responsible for 911 than Iraq, liberals just ran out of emotional symbolism and reverted to type.

Ari Tai

A NYT editorial today describes the Iraq war as a war of choice, unjustified by and unrelated to the National Security Strategy of the United States (published one year after 9-11 and resoundly validated by the 2004 elections).

Nice try. Iraq is as unrelated to the war-on-terror as invading Morocco (initially getting our butt kicked by the Vichy French - which began the education of the US Army wrt how to fight a modern war while identifying our weak commanders) was to defeating Germany.

I wonder if the MSM understands why their poll numbers are in the pits while the military's reach new highs? Comparing NYT headlines in 1943 and 2004 suggests that the more overtly propagandist the press is, the more the public love the man (& now woman) in uniform. And just like ww2 with its citizen army writing home the good and the bad, today's volunteer army speaks through the new media with an equally, if not more, effective voice.

Talk to any returning soldier. Their morale erases my anxiety. Zell Miller was right.

creepy dude

It's like if Roman Polanski responded to Sharon Tate's murder by going to New York and fighting street crime, and if somebody asked what he was doing, he said "I'm trying to keep Charles Manson from killing again"

When somebody then points out that Manson is still at large, Polanski says "yes, I have an excellent idea where he is, but diplomatic niceties prevent me from going after him right now."

Moral of the story: Bush is a failure.


Mark this down.

Suppose we had never invaded Iraq and left Saddam alone. Suppose, instead, we had poured troops into Afghanistan. Now, suppose, four years on, we had had the same level of casualties in Afghanistan that we had had in Al Anbar Province and in the the area around the Baghdad Governorate. Say, between 1500-1700 KIA, with 10-15,000 WIA.

I will guarantee EVERYONE on this board that all of the liberal Democrats on here who supported that Afghanistan invasion would be opposed to the war. I would bet money on it.

At the heart of the Democratic Party is Michael Moore and Howard Dean. Moore's film resonated with the base precisely because it gave the base a rationale for refusing to fight.

Moore's major thesis that he threw at Democrats was this: The War is a Lie. Not the War in Iraq, that went without saying. Rather, the entire War on Terror. The GWOT is a huge mendacity cooked up by Bushitler, the Saudis, the bin Laden family, and God knows who else (I await the appearance of the Alien Greys...) to enrich the swine at the trough. Oh, did I mention the Carlisle Group? I didn't? Okay. There's the Carlisle Group! Corrupt Saudi-bought Swine, all of them! Naturally the Donk base voters, who think of Bush the way Jews think of Heydrich, bought it hook, line, and sinker. Moore's hook was simple, and it resonated:

If the war is a lie, you don't have to choose sides! It's okay not to fight bin Laden, since Bushitler and he are two sides of the same debased coin.

Moore understood his audience-base Democratic voters. That's why he laughed all the way to the bank. So did Howard Dean. But back to Moore. He speaks for Democrats, not Joe Plagiarist Biden. Not Bob Kerry. Not Joe Lieberman. Moore does, and does so in spades. The heart and soul of the Democratic Party is its activist base, and that base does not want to fight this war.

Karl Rove was not speaking about "liberals". That was codetalk to the Conservatives. McClellan was simply engaging in evasive bullshit. Rove understands that the Democratic Party's base has folded up like a cheap Three Card Monte table and will not fight. Bin Laden and Zarqawi were counting on this, and it looks as if this part of their gamble has paid off in spades. That's what Rove was really saying. Recall the Vo Nguyen Giap made the same gamble: the left would force the American Liberal Establisment to lose its nerve in Vietnam and thus leave the field to the PAVN (yes, I know, Nixon and Ford actually "lost" the war, but Johnson lost the strategic initiative when he agreed to the peace talks on Hanoi's terms...). The situation is radically different here, but Binnie and his head chopping colleague are making a similar bet, assuming that the American liberal and media elite do not have the nerve to fight.

If I'm them, that's a good bet for them to make. After all, to a jihadist, American leftists must remind them of Europeans, who run like scalded dogs at the first sign of trouble.

Forget the whining from outraged pro-war liberals. Yes, there are lots of them, and they mean well, and they hate Saddam and bin Laden as much as I do, but there aren't enough of them to wad a shotgun. Good God, they don't represent anybody anymore! If they were a critical mass in the Democratic Party we'd be talking about President Joe Lieberman. But they aren't, and we never will see JoeMentum. JoeMentum, We Hardly Knew Ye....

Instead, we get people who never intend to fight screaming "chickenhawk" to those who raise serious questions about why the political consensus for war does not exist today and why the troops in our expeditionary forces aren't getting the political support they need from the people.

That's what Karl Rove figured out. That's why the MSM is in Full Metal Jacket response. Rove spoke the unpleasant truth and the Propaganda Ministry is doing its damndest to cover for their Partei's collective ass.

That's George Bush's strategic problem: he's fighting a war with the support of only one political party. The other party can't really figure out what to say any more, save for the fact that in its heart, it knows Michael Moore is right.

Michael Moore is their Barry Goldwater, only he'll never get elected to anything. But he says what they think. That should tell you why Bush is fighting this war with one hand tied behind his back.

And as for Bush? He has to recover from the unforgivable mistake of failing to explain, explain and explain again the objectives of the war. Rove may be a really smart guy, but sending Bush out to sell Social Security Reform during a jihadist bombing campaign was REALLY, REALLY, STUPID. And I say this as a fan of the Rovester. Part of the problem is that Conservative Republicans assumed that Saddam and bin Laden were so self-evidently wicked that the liberals would say, "well, oh, OF COURSE we need to fight them!" without realizing how much dry rot has coursed through the body politic of the Democratic Party. The very fact that Moore's movie was so popular should have told them something. It didn't. However, you can't ask Republicans to step into the minds of Democrats all the time. Bush needed to argue his case again and again and again. He didn't. Now he has to go back and do it again. Which is a huge waste of time, but there you have it.

Patrick R. Sullivan

And, have we forgotten the role played by the 2004 Democrat presidential nominee in 1970-72?

M. Simon

Karl Rove:

Some people are jerks.

Some folks volunteer: I'm not a jerk.

Karl Rove: I wasn't even talking to you.

Some folks: We still aren't jerks.


My take?

Some folks have guilty consciences. Maybe Karl has stiffened their spines. Or caused severe cognitive dissonance.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.



teh bomb!


So creepy dude wants to deploy the 82nd Airborne and who knows who and what else to Pakistan.

Who knew?


I thought that on most days of the week that most Democrats truly believed that "to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers" was a principled position of "moderation and restraint." While I don't happen to take this position myself, I find it to pass the "smell test" for a reasoned person to take.
What I find most amazing about the Democrats response to Karl Rove's speech is that they seem perfectly content to abandon this well reasoned position for one of mindless partisan opposition. This is really throwing the baby out with the bath water. I can only believe that this switch is based on "Bush hating" and not any political strategy.
A well reasoned Democratic response would be to say that the "Democrats aren't the party quick to the trigger" but rather the "thoughtful party" or some other such nonsense with a positive spin. Based on the actual response, the public can only come to believe that the knees are jerking in Washington.

Harry Arthur

Jor, "Josh, you are going to enlist right? One of my friends is his unvoluntary second tour in Iraq. I'm sure he'd lkove for you to take his place. Nothing funnier than seeing chicken hawks on parade. Or all these young conservatives telling us why someone else needs to go, not them. Feel free to borrow an excuse from them, if you can't think of anything on your own. (via atrios)." Does the "chiken hawk" label apply to all of us conservatives who argue(d) for the war or just the young ones?

Harry Arthur

Ardsqaine, I was with you up until you said "conservatives who would abandon the consitution and the rule of law to legislate their religious beliefs". I'm a conservation, (also a Christian) and hold no such belief. I'm honestly curious what particular legislation you're getting at with that broad brush.

Just as you believe conservatives have mischaracterized true liberals, perhaps you might consider the possibility that you've made exactly the same point, but from the opposite side of the coin.

Harry Arthur

Actually, I'm a conservative, not a conservation - occasionally can't spell - "not that there's anything wrong with that."



What I find increasingly amusing is the whole idea behind the "chickenhawk" meme. IMHO it's frankly a useless argument that doesn't deserve any responses, but it is an argument that is destined to rebound. Certainly there will be a Democrat as President. And that Democrat will find an occasion to use military force.

So what will the liberals do then, when we all toss that "chickenhawk" argument right back at them?


So what's the downside of giving a pep talk to your conservative base criticizing liberals and, serendipitously, having "Democrats" and "progressives" come out in public and whine piteously about the big, bad Republican man who said bad things about them and hurt their feelings?


Oh lord, here I am 54th in line. Well, nevermind.

Item 1: liberals v. conservatives. Rove knew what he was saying. He meant Democrats but he didn't want to cop to it. It's exactly the ploy he's used ad nauseum since his successful Saddam-was-behind-9/11-but-you-didn't-hear-the-President-say-it maneuver. You have your plausible deniability, but we all know the score.

Item 2: polls. Rove strikes a blow at the wrong target, revealing his achilles heel. In head-to-head matches, he's perfected hitting his opponents in their strength (as opposed to weaknesses). But what happens when the opponent is the opinion of the people.

Item 3: trust. Thanks to maneuvering, Rove has won political battles, but he's sullied the brand. Americans don't trust Bush. I wonder why? Buck-passing being the mode of this administration, no one's surprised to find Rove attacking but not copping to it. Eventually, that stuff'll kill ya.


SMG, you're probably right, not exactly the wisest point, but its about as ridiculous as the argument I was addressing.

However, now that we are on the chicken-hawk topic, I'm pretty sure I can embarrass most of you into submission. I only mentioned it because Knight Rider, recently carried a story on all the young republicans, and how none of them wanted to go to war.

So with that aside, lets clarify the chicken hawk argument, since most people seem to be making trivial mistakes. First, until the Iraq war, our Army was not over-stretched as it is now. If someone thinks otherwise, I'd love to see the link. So after 9/11, our military had more than enough resources to respond, and deal with Afghanistan appropriately. If you wanted to join the army then, good for you, you were helping the country, but we had more than enough people to deal with it already.

However, after the unplanned misadventure in Iraq took place, (we were suppose to have like 30K troops there now, according to the original "plan") --- our army becamse severely stretched thin. The army doesn't issue stop-gap orders, and fall severly short on recruitment goals for no reason. So right now, our military has a tremendous need for people. And they don't all have to be soldiers either! They need all types of people. So even if some people could mistake you for being anorexic, the military can find somethng for you to do. Or the civilian CPA (when it was around) could have found something for you to do.

All I'm saying is, if you are going to cheer-lead for a gigantic misadventure, it should have some financial/personal cost to YOU. Whether that's you joining hte military or you helping families of troops at home -- whatever it is, it better be something that's in line with how loud you are rambling. Actions speak louder than words.

ED -- just cause some democrat is in office, if he embarks on some idiotic adventure that I don't support, hes a jerk. If he goes on some adventure I do support, and the country is disenchanted with, and the military is stretched too thin, and I keep my place on the 101st-fighting-keyboarders, than feel free to call me a chicken-hawk.



The personal cost I'm willing to pay is putting up with the know-nothing crowd such as yourself... without screaming and everything.

What bigger sacrifice could I muster?


Jor: I think everyone else here is too polite to point this out to you, but the implications of your "chickenhawk" argument amount to something like this:

"I'm concerned about the level of crime in our city. Law enforcement really needs to crack down on those responsible."

"Oh yeah? Then why don't YOU join the cops?"

or, even more to the point:

"Someone just said that building down the street is on fire! Call Emergency Services!"

"Oh yeah? Why don't YOU join the fire department?"

Do you get it? You're not deploying a strong rhetorical point here; in fact, you're not even responding logically to the point under discussion. Regroup, rethink, and start again.

Paul Zrimsek

I distinctly recall seeing chickenhawk charges fill the air back in the early days when the reality-based CW was that that dummy Rummy had deliberately sent too few of our abundant forces to do the job. Whatever became of that argument, anyway?

Les Nessman

So, Jor is calling for a military dictatorship?

Only those in the military can have an opinion on questions of war?

I thought civilians were in charge of our military. Does Jor want to change that?


RS, lets put aside the difference between a costly discretionary war (Iraq) and basic governmental services (law enforcement). I'll even decide to ignore the fact that crime has actually dropped over teh last decade, while, well Iraq, is Iraq (I'm sure glenn reynolds will shortly be posting his vacation photos from baghdad on his blog).

Ignoring all of that.

The military is over-stretched. We have basically conscripted anyone who was already in it. They cant get out. And we have a chorus of fools who aren't putting their money where there mouth is. IF you support this misadventure soo deeply, THEN put your money where your mouth is, and stop ENSLAVING OTHERES to fight for YOUR fantasies.

What's so complicated or controversial about that? Remove the stop-gap orders. Allow people to leave. See how many people stay to fight YOUR war. The military is falling 30-40% behind recruitment goals -- NO ONE wants to join. I'd think its easy enough to say, many would leave if they could. I don't think the situation is the same with police forces.

Bickel, you gotta work on a better way to provide a non-response response.

Les, thats exactly what I said.


RS, lets put aside the difference between a costly discretionary war (Iraq) and basic governmental services (law enforcement). I'll even decide to ignore the fact that crime has actually dropped over teh last decade, while, well Iraq, is Iraq (I'm sure glenn reynolds will shortly be posting his vacation photos from baghdad on his blog).

Ignoring all of that.

The military is over-stretched. We have basically conscripted anyone who was already in it. They cant get out. And we have a chorus of fools who aren't putting their money where there mouth is. IF you support this misadventure soo deeply, THEN put your money where your mouth is, and stop ENSLAVING OTHERES to fight for YOUR fantasies.

What's so complicated or controversial about that? Remove the stop-gap orders. Allow people to leave. See how many people stay to fight YOUR war. The military is falling 30-40% behind recruitment goals -- NO ONE wants to join. I'd think its easy enough to say, many would leave if they could. I don't think the situation is the same with police forces.

Bickel, you gotta work on a better way to provide a non-response response.

Les, thats exactly what I said.


"THEN put your money where your mouth is, and stop ENSLAVING OTHERES to fight for YOUR fantasies."

It's a volunteer military, Jor. You know that.

Okay, what about Afghanistan? The liberal/left have argued that they were for Afghanistan but against Iraq.

Well, we are still rooting out elements of al-Qaeda and the Taliban there. Are liberals/leftists "chickenhawks" for not volunteering to go to Balukistan?

Your argument, admittedly, isn't entirely unfair. I'm a little less than enamored with these gungho types too, whether they're of military age or passed it (I'm 42). But instead of hammering folks with it, use it more judiciously.

Nice debating you, my friend.




"If he goes on some adventure I do support, and the country is disenchanted with, and the military is stretched too thin, and I keep my place on the 101st-fighting-keyboarders, than feel free to call me a chicken-hawk."

ROFL! That's a lot of conditionals in there.

No. No credibility there.

Cecil Turner

"Your argument, admittedly, isn't entirely unfair."

Nonsense. Less than 1% of the population is in the military at any one time. The "chickenhawk" argument is a cutesy way to delegitimize the pro-war perspective by discounting 99% of it. (And military demographics show young Republicans sign up more often than young Democrats, so that winge is unpersuasive as well.) If the argument was serious, it'd run something along the lines of limiting the franchise to veterans (a la Starship Troopers). But that'd be an even bigger loser for the Dems, so "chickenhawk" is the ticket.

BTW, it's "stop loss" not "stop gap."


Jor: I understand you think you're responding, but consider - even given that law enforcement or fighting fires services are "basic government services," you're still arguing that if one supports undertaking a costly, potentially hazardous endeavor, then one must of necessity undertake that endeavor as well or be labelled a "chicken-hawk." Just extend the scope a bit and see how ludicrous it gets - I feel that adult diabetes is a serious problem, and loudly advocate an organized effort to eradicate it as a public health risk: by your criteria, unless I enter Harvard Medical and get an advanced degree and devote the rest of my life to research and treatment, I have no right to even speak of the subject. I'm just conscripting others to fight my "fantasy" cause.

You're basically negating the very principle of activism by holding supporters of a view to an absurd set of conditions, not to mention straying dangerously close to the "only those who have served have a right to speak" position.

But you still haven't addressed the topic under discussion here - you've just hurled out a trope that even superficial analysis reveals has nothing to do with the questions raised by Rove.

C'mon, Jor - you can do better than this.


RS, you can give a donation to the diabetes fund. But the bigger difference here is, harvard medical school has no shortage of applicants. On the other hand, the military is in dire straits. No one is volunteering, and people who are already in the military are stuck, to support this misadventure. If I was a diabetes researcher, and decided to quit, there is nothing anyone could do about it. This is a very different situation.


By your criteria, Jor, donating is not enough. Only direct action will suffice; otherwise, I have no right to advocate such a cause. Troop numbers have nothing to do with the position you've carved out - and you're still not addressing the point of the post above.

Weigh in on that, and retire the "chicken-hawk" rhetoric.


"C'mon Jor - you can do better than this" etc. "Nice debating you, my friend." I'm sorry, my gorge rises. Is Jor someone's idiot son who needs a self esteem injection? I have seen people being patronized, but rarely to this extent. Just tell him he's won, award him a gold star and move on. People who debate on this level have not graduated from junior high. Have some dignity.

Good night.

TJ Jackson

Sad to see the Lefty trolls singing the same old songs. No wonder they whine about Rove. Its reminds one of the Politboro screaming when Reagan called them the evil empire and suddenly everyone knew the emperor had no clothes.

The Left and patriotism? Not unless you cosndier pledging your loyalty to states like Cuba and the PRC patriotism. When I see the Left rally for the troops or raise funds for the widows or orphans I believe in their patriotism. Till then we can just look at the examples of Corrie, Johnny Walker, and the human shields. Forget the Sontags, Frankens, Moores, Fondas, they talk a great deal but its the mind numbed wingnuts who actually work to destroy the US that need to be remembered. Especially those in the media.


Moneyrunner - you've got a point, but for the record I wasn't (nor, I imagine, was SMG) trying to condescend to Jor, merely to challenge him to think beyond a few long-discredited talking-points. I don't know whether Jor qualifies as a troll or not, but isn't there something to be said for an approach to someone mounting an impassioned argument, fully expecting confrontation and ad hominem put-downs, that instead makes them question their preconceptions and focus on the real debate?

That could, I suppose, still be read as a patronizing attitude, but I still think there's a certain utility in such a tactic. Anything that breaches the echo chamber in which so many of today's Left dwell, that makes them look askance at their own rhetoric - to me, that's a good thing.


You've nailed it. Couldn't state it better. We don't need to spit all over one another because we have political differences.

Everything ain't politics.

I would add a couple of things:

(1) This is a classy blog run by TM. I appreciate it, as I'm sure you and others do. There's a level of debate here that is higher than most other places. I'd like to keep it that way although, obviously, it's his blog. When things start to get heated, I try to lower the temperature. Some may read that as patronizing; but they're wrong.

(2) Some folks, it seems to me, take themselves way too seriously here. This is a group of mostly men pontificating on subjects that most of us know little about. At least I don't. Hell, my knowledge of Islam consists of a couple of books by Samuel Lewis, a few writings by Edward Said and some scattered articles in various journals. And yet I can explain how we can re-make the Middle East, solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue and destroy radical Islam.

In less than 100 words.

In other words, most of what we post here is absolute malarkey. No additives.

(3) The real enemies of the country are not Jor (or Karl Rove or whatever rightwing or leftwing monster one has created in one's mind), but radical Islamists. That shouldn't be a news bulletin, but sometimes I wonder.

(4) I personally admire people who go to a ideologically-different sites to take on challengers. It's pretty easy here for us on the right to post. We've got lots of allies. But to go where your views aren't welcomed, takes a bit of guts.

Tip of the hat to Jor for that. And if he thinks I'm patronizing him, he knows how to type the words "screw you".


to take on challengers

Except "chickenhawk" is namecalling.

I served (Nam), I support the war on terror where it leads. I have more right to advocate support among the people without namecalling idiots polluting legitimate debate.

The postmodern logic behind the chickenhawk taunt is based on false hipocracy: eg

That renouncing white privilege after growing up in it is saintly, but Clarence Thomas is a hypocrite for opposing affirmative action when he himself may have benefited from it.

This is not logic, it's symbolic dreck that sounds logical to morons.

Harry Arthur

Re: the state of our military - here's Victor Davis Hansen's take on the subject. Jor, you might not agree with VDH's analysis but I think you'll find it thought-provoking nonetheless.

Harry Arthur

The problem I'm having with the "chickenhawk" ad hominem is that it presumes that unless you have participated in the military you are not qualified to comment there upon with the addition there that National Guard service didn't count. We were treated to this argument repeatedly during the last presidential campaign by our friends in the Kerry organization. Unfortunately it does seem to me to eliminate Hillary and Condoleeza from future consideration as it would have eliminated FDR. George Washington would have been OK. Jefferson? Lincoln? Harry Truman of course would have been fine, as would have been Ike. Reagan? Sort of - he did serve, though not in combat. Grant would have been fine by this measure - not such a great indicator of the quality of his presidency though.

Harry Arthur

Let's try the first two sentences again:

The problem I'm having with the "chickenhawk" ad hominem is that it presumes that unless you have participated in the military you are not qualified to comment there upon. We were treated to this argument repeatedly during the last presidential campaign by our friends in the Kerry organization with the addition there that National Guard service didn't count.

Lurking Observer

To follow up Harry's comment:

So, someone who served in the US military, 1978-1984, is more qualified to comment on whether to go to war than a civilian who hasn't served:

What if that civilian was CIA? State Department? Posted to the country in question in the Peace Corps?

Is an Air Force officer who manned Minuteman silos from 1980-1992 really better qualified to discuss the situation in Iraq than, say, a Laurie Mylroie?

It's also very two-faced to take that tack, since one of the few polls focusing on military personnel (From the Defense News/Army Times family of trade papers) found an overwhelming majority supported the war.

So, the underlying presumption that those in the military oppose wars is probably false from the outset. But it also violates the key tenet of civilian control of the military: It is not the military that decides whether to go to war or not; nor is it the popularity of a war within the military that decides whether it is justified or not.

Consider that perhaps half the US Army resigned to join the Confederacy. Does that really make Lincoln's decisions somehow less justified? Does the action of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, PGT Beauregard, etc., all decorated veterans of the Mexican-American War, really somehow trump the few weeks of service that Abraham Lincoln filled as a militia officer in the Blackhawk War?


The chickenhawk taunt attempts to create a double standard:

Those against war do not need to volunteer military service to validate their point of view, but supporters do.

After Pearl Harbor and 911 it should be obvious that it is not only military people at risk from enemies and hence there is no rational basis for a double standard.

The military acts on everyone's behalf just as police and firefighters do. Those of us who serve or have served bestow no more freedom of expression to critics of service than to supporters. If there were to be a double standard, we would grant it in the other direction.

Paul Arthur

A quick question...Franklin D. Roosevelt, drafter of the "New Deal" and hero of the left, led our country into World War 2 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt never served in the military, does this mean that he shouldn't have gone to war because he didn't himself?

The "chicken hawk" arguement is a strawman at best, created to divert the attention from the true question; Not, "is this person credible in saying that we should go to war?" but, "is there a credible reason for going to war?"

By the way, it has been said that the opinion of the soldier's is that they don't believe in what they're doing and that they don't want to be over there. If you truly believe this I urge you to check out Dave Rozelle's book, "Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude." It tells Captain Rozelle's story of being injured in Iraq and losing one of his feet. After an injury like this one would think this man would say, "I've done enough for my country, I'm staying home." Instead, Captain Rozelle opted to heal, demonstrate that he was fit for duty, and return to serve in Iraq. Doesn't sound to me like someone who doesn't believe in what they do.

Lurking Observer

And just to preempt the most likely rejoinder to Paul's excellent point:

FDR was born in 1882. He would have been eighteen at the time of the Filipino Insurrection (1899-1902).

FDR did not contract polio until 1921, when he was 39.

He certainly was of an age to have served in the military; indeed, his counterpart Winston Churchill served in the trenches in World War I. (Born in 1874, Churchill was in his mid-thirties when he went to France.)

Les Nessman

We need a zoologist to chime in here.

Is a chickenhawk a red herring or a strawman? Whichever it is, it sure can be an effective way for those who lose arguments to hijack threads.

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