The anger that spilled from political guru Karl Roves lips was, according to those present at the meeting, the most vocal disagreement anyone had ever seen from the trusted advisor in front of the President. Discussions with those privy to the many meetings on determining the President's strategy show most senior aides lining up against Rove.
This is a stupid f*cking idea, Rove said, his voice shaking. This President doesnt admit mistakes. A leader doesnt acknowledge error.
But Card, bolstered by the Presidents willingness to try a new approach in speeches on Irag policy, admitting some mistakes while vowing to complete the mission in Iraq, pushed for the big one a public Presidential admission that the intelligence information used to sell the war to Congress and the American people was wrong in the claims that Irag possessed weapons of mass destruction, posed an immediate threat to the United States or that proof existed of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
It was, Card admitted, a risky strategy. The press and public could zero in on the false intel and the Presidents many claims that the intel was correct and miss the overall point of the speech but the Chief of Staff argued that the risk was worth taking.
The intelligence was flawed, Card said. Everyone in the nation knows that. Its time we admitted the truth.
That wont fly, Card said. The truth is out on this. As long as we continue to deny the truth the Presidents credibility is at stake.
Bush wavered but came down on Cards side when Karen Hughes, the Presidential confidante that Bush trusts even more than Rove, sided with the Chief of Staff.
Bushs speech, delivered Wednesday, went through more than a dozen drafts before settling on the language the President would use:
It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong, Bush said in the final draft. As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.
But, in typical Bush style, the President remained committed to the war.
Saddam was a threat and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power," Bush said.
The debate over admitting the use of false intelligence marked the second straight defeat for Rove in determining the Presidents course is trying to resell his Iraq war to a skeptical American public. He argued against the current strategy used by Bush to admit some setbacks, saying a real leader doesnt act that way.
Some White House aides say the Presidents willingness to ignore the advice of his most trusted aide signals Bushs weariness with Roves scorched earth political strategies.
The President realizes that listening to Karl got him into the fix hes in now, says one senior GOP consultant who, like all who comment on Bush for publication, insisted on anonymity for fear of angering the President. He listening to others now and taking their advice is why youre seeing a new approach.
© Copyright 2005 by Capitol Hill Blue