A few days days ago, I warned that the White House's desperate search for scapegoats to blame for its own failures was shifting into overdrive. And, right on cue, along comes Karl Rove to spew an (ample) belly full of bile into the public record:
"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."
Rove also denounced Sen. Dick Durbin's comments comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes. He said the statements have been broadcast throughout the Middle East, putting American troops in greater danger. Durbin has since apologized for the remarks.
"No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said.
Many on the left have reacted with predictable fury -- particularly those Democrats who thought that by surfing the Iraq war along with the Cheney administration, they could buy themselves some protection from such old-fashioned demagoguery, which reads like pages torn from Spiro Agnew's old speeches.
But I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness.
The rhetorical assault on the liberals, in other words, is the core of the PR counteroffensive the White House has been promising to unleash for the past week.
Having been advised by the "moderates" to level with the American people and explain just how badly things have gone off the track in Iraq, and how much time, treasure and blood it will take to redeem Bush's casual promises of victory, the Rovians apparently have decided they can't do it -- not without suffering unacceptable casualties on the home front. American troops, after all, are expendable. But Bush's political capital is both precious and increasingly scarce. Much too scarce, apparently, to waste on an exercise as frivolous as a presidential appeal for patriotic unity and shared sacrifice.....