Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 22, 2009

'COLONELS IN MIRRORED SUNGLASSES'.... I can appreciate why Karl Rove is upset about recent revelations about Bush administration torture policies. After all, who wants their friends and colleagues to end up looking like war criminals? Rove has a specific job to do: make Bush and his team look better, while trying to destroy President Obama and his team. The latest evidence puts Rove in a tougher position. Poor guy.

But that hardly excuses the kind of foolish rhetoric Rove is throwing around. Last night, on Fox News (where else?), for example, Rove said the administration's recent disclosures about torture are "very dangerous." Rove insisted, "What they've essentially said is if we have policy disagreements with our predecessors.... [W]e're going to turn ourselves into the moral equivalent of a Latin American country run by colonels in mirrored sunglasses and what we're gonna do is prosecute systematically the previous administration, or threaten prosecutions against the previous administration, based on policy differences. Is that what we've come to in this country?"

You see, in Rove World, the way to avoid becoming a banana republic is to have a chief executive who ignores the rule of law. Then, the chief executive is replaced, and his/her successor must ensure there are no consequences for those who ignored the rule of law in the recent past.

No matter how serious alleged crimes, no matter how compelling the evidence, no matter the consequences, if a president believes those who came before him/her broke the law, he/she must not prosecute, or even investigate. If he/she disagrees, the president would be acting like a Latin American colonel in mirrored sunglasses.

I sometimes wonder if Rove can even hear the words coming out of his mouth.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Comments

Rove knows just what he is doing, which is to apply what he knows about his Movement's base. I'll leave the details to others to spell out this time.

As for "colonels in mirrored sunglasses" - they're the kind who torture dissidents and then cover up afterward. Rove is indeed breathtakingly fraudulent, but in his world that's a feature not a bug.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on April 22, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK
I sometimes wonder if Rove can even hear the words coming out of his mouth.

Sure, they don't stand up to rational analysis, and they aren't meant to. These kinds of appeals aren't meant for people who are thinking about the issues, they are design to provide the right impression to people listening shallowly. Its the same approach that has characterized the campaigns and administrations Rove has worked for.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 22, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "I sometimes wonder if Rove can even hear the words coming out of his mouth."

Of course he can. Karl Rove is a calculating, crafty, vicious, manipulative, deliberate liar.

If he ever surprises himself with his own words, it's along the lines of "As long as I've been doing this, sometimes I still can't believe these Ditto-Head suckers fall for this BS."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 22, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Does Rove see any limit to illegal behavior perpetrated the POTUS and his/her administration that would trigger an appropriate criminal investigation and prosecution?

Would an illegal war be something the POTUS could be prosecuted for?

War crimes?

Genocide?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 22, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Dear (Leader) Karl: Torture is not a policy option, and therefore any prosecutions in the future regarding members of the previous administration will be done because of torture, not simply because of a perceived policy difference only held by you and the rest of the torture apologists.

Karl - NOT IN MY NAME! Torturers must be prosecuted, and the architects of the policy to torture also qualify for the docket! We have no passed Enabling Act here in America, just OLC CYA memos that are worth shit to our heritage and sense of national identity! Karl, please for the sake of our nation go and find a rock to crawl under! It's bad enough you were involved in outing a CIA operative for political brownie points - such a shameless man you are! Your mother deserved better! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 22, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

So when Saddam was on trial, why wasn't anyone in the Bush Administration claiming that somethings should remain mysterious or that we should just keep on walking? And for the record, allowing a lynchmob to do an impromptu hanging of Saddam sounds pretty much like what banana republic dictators in mirrored sunglasses do.

Posted by: petorado on April 22, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

"what we're gonna do is prosecute systematically the previous administration, or threaten prosecutions against the previous administration, based on policy differences."-Rove

No Karl, not "policy differences", crimes.

Posted by: palinoscopy on April 22, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are very good at projection. Karl is assuming that since the Bush administration pushed things as far as they could legally, then every other one will too. Doesn't every president do the same thing? Isn't authorizing torture the same thing as filegate or whitewater? Don't all presidents hide their papers to avoid the public finding out what they were up to?

Karl should be at the very least standing in the unemployment line , if not in jail, he should be shamed for what he did to this country, not put on TV like he has something important to say.

Posted by: Atlliberal on April 22, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

threaten prosecutions against the previous administration, based on policy differences.

Impeaching Clinton was a prosecution based on policy differences. This isn't.

Posted by: Danp on April 22, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Exactly right. The function here is to try to control/contain the political effect by conjuring up a potent image and injecting it into the news stream. The logic is naked enough. Problem: the visceral images called up by the memos, and those images being associated with your people. Solution: try to locate a plausible and equally visceral countervailing image of your own and inject it into the media stream early and often. With sufficient repetition, it will help to displace the original ones to some extent.

It doesn't really have anything to do with rational debate and it's not meant to.

Posted by: DrBB on April 22, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I can not fathom how Karl Rove sleeps at night.

Fucking monster.

Posted by: MissMudd on April 22, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

[W]e're going to turn ourselves into the moral equivalent of a Latin American country run by colonels in mirrored sunglasses

Of course, it's the right-wingers who supported right-wing Latin American dictators.

Posted by: calling all toasters on April 22, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Karl does sleep at night, because that's when he feeds.

Posted by: 2Manchu on April 22, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

When panic sets in people say the darnest things. Rove's no exception to that.

Posted by: SRW1 on April 22, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Atlliberal: I think you have it mostly right but there's a twist: Rove's attacks follow a consistent pattern: identify the most damaging characterization that Democrats could use (based on the facts), and then, ignoring the facts, co-opt that characterization by turning it on Democrats. In effect, he disarms his political foes by using their most effective weapons on them, first.

In this case, the facts make clear that the banana republic analogy describes the behavior of the Bush administration pretty well. So Rove uses that imagery, with all of its negative emotional baggage, to prevent its usage by the opposition.

If the facts don't support the characterization he uses, as is typical, that's even better. He's injected a controversial meme into the media that puts his enemies on the defensive.

This pattern is so consistent and so crystal clear, it's maddening that the media doesn't call BS on it, if for no other reason it makes them look like complete rubes.

Posted by: myxzptlk on April 22, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

It's called projection- project your own failings onto your opponent Rove is a master at it, or he was until a third grader figured it out.

Posted by: johnnymags on April 22, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove -- and much of the modern-day Republican party -- literally cannot distinguish between politics and governance. This is surely no surprise. Look at the Bush years -- the Plame outing and the "selling" of the Iraq War spring immediately to mind, that Doan woman and her cookies etc etc -- but the most egregious example might be the installation of Rove himself into the WH pecking order. What purpose does an election strategist serve in the White House, after all?

This is a very grave mistake for both parties, but we can definitely thank the Republicans for its inception.

Posted by: zhak on April 22, 2009 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most annoying arguments I have heard from the right on the torture memos, "taking methods off the table," and prosecution is the notion that "it will cripple intellegence in the field if the rules change every time there is a political change."

Setting aside the fact that the opportunity for political change over reasonably short periods is a feature, not a bug, in our system the really annoying part of this argument is that there was a perfectly consistent policy against waterboarding and the like for generations right up through today with one small exception: the Bush years.

Obama's new policy is not the dreaded "change in the rules." The only change has been under Bush, for the worse. "Intelligence in the field" knows the rules - the same as they always were until the 8-year reign of immature, morally reprehensible sadists.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 22, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"You see, in Rove World, the way to avoid becoming a banana republic is to have a chief executive who ignores the rule of law. Then, the chief executive is replaced, and his/her successor must ensure there are no consequences for those who ignored the rule of law in the recent past."

Hmmm...so far, this kind of sounds like Obama's world, too.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on April 22, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Impeaching Clinton was a prosecution based on policy differences. This isn't.

Actually, that wasn't either. It had nothing to do with policies per se. That was to simply delegitimize the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton and anything either of them did. It was based on nothing but malicious intent.

This, conversely, has to do with the fucking law as it directly relates to policy.

Posted by: Jay B. on April 22, 2009 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with this entire discussion is that, rather than requiring that the subsequent President pursue the illegalities of his/her predecessor, the obligation actually rests on the concurrent Congress to review, investigate and prosecute any illegal behaviour on the part of the sitting President at that time. The 108th through 110th Congresses had ample opportunity, and substantial grounds, to undertake such an investigation. That they did not is far more indicative than any action the 44th President could take to investigate the administration of the 43rd.

Essentially, Rove's job is done: he and his kind managed to prevent Congress from undertaking the inquiries required to reveal these programmes as they were being formed and conducted. Further investigation is necessary, and prosecutions nearly inevitable; however, the ideal time to proceed in this fashion has unfortunately passed, and we must accept that we allowed the last eight years the scope we did by not requiring Congress to pursue this investigation much earlier.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on April 22, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

SRW1, I think you nailed it. Rove is scared out of his skin, and should be. The crimes in which he was deeply involved are being methodically exposed, and those that were only suspected are being proven. His only hope at this point for staying out of jail is to try to convince enough people that a charge against him would be political rather than appropriate legal action. Of course his argument sound silly, but they're all he's got.

mrgumby2u, the operative words are "so far." I think Obama has kept his options open on prosecution of the people who initiated these policies, while proceeding cautiously and making the appropriate noises about reconciliation and bipartisanship. But meanwhile, the devastating information keeps coming out, day after day, and public outcry is increasing. By the time he does appoint a special prosecutor, he'll have solid public support behind him, and an understanding that this is not a partisan issue. In case we missed it during the campaign, let's take note of it now: the guy is scary-smart, and knows how to play a long game.

Posted by: T-Rex on April 22, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

one of the things rove said (and i'm paraphrasing): "that might be okay in chicago but it's not okay in the united states."

i hope blagovich's legal team is paying attention. they'll be able to use that in his defense.

Posted by: karen marie on April 22, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

If they don't prosecute the people who did this it becomes a question of policy, not crime.

And that becomes the precedent.

Posted by: alan on April 22, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Rove's complaint is that it takes John Yoo too seriously. You have to start from the premise that nothing the unitary executive does can possibly be illegal since the unitary executive is above the law. Therefore any subsequent prosecutions would have to be politically motivated, taking advantage of the fact that the previous executive is out of power and therefore no longer able to avoid such a political prosecution.

Of course when you look at the recent history of prosecutions that appear to be based on blind partisanship, you find that, overwhelmingly, it appears that Republicans are the prosecutors and Democrats are the prosecutees.

The Bushista capacity for projection never ceases to amaze me.

Posted by: majun on April 22, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Rove is just listening to Fagen's "Goodbye Look" in his car.

Posted by: Flamethrower on April 22, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Torture is not a "policy difference" - it is against the law. Period.

But if Karl Rove thinks incoming administrations should just forgive and forget everything, maybe they should have tried the Nixon strategy: Have the VP thrown in jail, select a new VP that will win the Oval Office in the next election, resign in disgrace, then have "your guy" pardon all wrong-doing.

Posted by: Markozilla on April 22, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

The only way Rove and Cheney are helping repair Bush's image is that they are such total assholes that Bush doesn't seem as bad compared to them. And Bush has wisely (perhpaps the only wisdom he has ever shown) kept quiet.

Posted by: Dale on April 22, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Turd Blossom hate the military?

Posted by: short fuse on April 22, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

myxzptlk said:
Rove's attacks follow a consistent pattern: identify the most damaging characterization that Democrats could use (based on the facts), and then, ignoring the facts, co-opt that characterization by turning it on Democrats. In effect, he disarms his political foes by using their most effective weapons on them, first.

Thanks for expressing that concept so well. I've recognized his MO for a long time but couldn't express it that clearly. He turns the truth about Republicans into a strategic lie about Democrats.

Posted by: Dale on April 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Dale - most of your analysis was excellent, except for the last line. I would not assume that Bush the Lesser is wise in any way. More likely, he has not yet emerged from his "Victory Lap" bender.

Posted by: BuzzMon on April 22, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking the law and war crimes are hardly "policy differences". That's like saying Hitler's "policy" of exterminating the Jews should not allow for prosecutions because it's just a difference in policies.

Holder says he knew the DoJ had to be transformed because it had become so corrupted over the past 8yrs but he needs to get on the ball and get the Siegleman case overturned and put Rove in jail. This gutter troll has brought more damage and corruption to the nation than nearly any other figure and the FOX scum channel still gives him a national voice. His sedition is overwhelming.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 22, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's there again...always accusing others of what they themselves are...

Rove IS one of those 'generals' in mirrored sunglasses.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 22, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Free Don Siegelman, imprison Karl Rove !

Posted by: Bill on April 22, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK
The problem with this entire discussion is that, rather than requiring that the subsequent President pursue the illegalities of his/her predecessor, the obligation actually rests on the concurrent Congress to review, investigate and prosecute any illegal behaviour on the part of the sitting President at that time.

This is incorrect. In the sense of statutory criminal law, prosecution is always the responsibility of the sitting executive. Congress also has oversight responsibility, and responsibility for protect the nation from abuses of power by way of impeachment where necessary, but even where that course is taken it does not eliminate the role of the succeeding executive with regard to criminal prosecution, it only makes it so that there is a succeeding executive capable of taking on that role sooner.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 22, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"for example, Rove said the administration's recent disclosures about torture are "very dangerous." "

Yes, very dangerous for Rove, Cheney, Bush ,Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Yoo, Bybee, Addington........

Posted by: James G on April 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Rove's comments are kind of ironic, seeing as how the people Rove works for have been the ones backing the colonels in the mirrored sunglasses all these years.

Posted by: getplaning on April 22, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK
Yes, very dangerous for Rove, Cheney, Bush ,Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Yoo, Bybee, Addington........

Yeah, and I think that the Zelikow memo and the campaign to eradicate it, if it can be proven to have existed and its contents were as described, is pretty much the smoking gun here. It would both eliminate the good faith reliance on legal advice defense and support independent obstruction of justice charges against those involved.

So, yeah, the people likely to be targetted there are going to escalate their efforts to discredit any potential prosecution in the court of public opinion before it happens, in the hopes that sufficient political pressure will protect them, because their legal armor is starting show some pretty big chinks.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 22, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

He obviously has forgotten that the Republican Party wanted to retro impeach Clinton, after he was out of office, because of his pardon of a man whose ex-wife donated money to Clinton's library.

And they were still trying to drum up some excuse to try him for the murder of Vince Foster who comitted suicide.

Herr Karl, you're supposed to be smarter than that.

Posted by: Marnie on April 22, 2009 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well, gee, Steve, you have to give the Republican'ts credit for prosecuting Bill Clinton while he was still IN office.

Rove is complaining about prosecuting administrations after the LEAVE office.

Surely you can see the distinction.

Posted by: Impeach Jay Bybee on April 22, 2009 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

You see, in Rove World, the way to avoid becoming a banana republic is to have a chief executive who ignores the rule of law.

Obama was right that it is time to move on, like Lincoln after the Civil war. Dems are complicit in the war, illegal wiretapping, and torture, so nothing good comes out of trying to make vindictive political hay, and real prosecutions will go nowhere because of Dem complicity and silence when it counted. Obama is still touting illegal wiretapping, so let's be careful about rule of law if we're not to be regarded as hypocrites.

Dems are just as un-American and corrupt on immigration law as Bush was on torture.

Posted by: Luther on April 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

And he would say just the opposite if it served his purposes; especially if it had been under a Democratic administration.

Posted by: Ken Carman on April 25, 2009 at 6:44 AM | PERMALINK

You halfwits don't know the difference between reality and fantacy.
I've seen your type make videos of worst on the internet and call it sadistic pornography.
You need to learn the difference between aggressive questioning and torture. this country is going to be tortured more with this administration and Congress than the 9-11 killers ever were. I will be the first to volenteer to eliminate all you "radical left wing extremist" that are now condoning picking up arms to advance your sick Marxist / Socialist agenda. Count on it.

Posted by: Chuck on July 1, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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