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A Presidential sleight of hand

By Doug Thompson  Posted by Amanda Lang (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments

Amanda Lang
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As the dank grayness of late fall and early winter settled in over the Nation's Capital, a winter storm over its own raged inside the White House.

George W. Bush's senior advisors, frantic over what to do about the President's plummeting approval numbers, argued over conflicting strategies. The President's attempt to use Veterans Day as a rallying cry for his war in Iraq, fell flat on a skeptical public and attempts to paint Democratic Congressman John Murtha, an honored Vietnam war veteran, as unpatriotic brought disapproval.

In conversations with White House aides, GOP advisors and others close to the Bush administration, all of whom insist on anonymity for fear of retaliation from a President who views such actions as treason, a portrait of a White House torn by turf battles and finger pointing emerges. Yet, amid all this debate, a classic case of "good cop/bad cop" political strategy emerged.

Presidential Chief of Staff Andrew Card, considered one of the saner voices within the administration, argued against attacking Murtha or other planned attempts by Presidential political guru Karl Rove to paint Democrats as cowards for opposing the war in Iraq.

Card, instead, pushed a plan to put Bush on the road with a new series of speeches where the President would admit some mistakes in the Iraq war but argue that the U.S. must remain committed to the war and see it through.

The plan angered Rove who never wants the President to admit error.

"Admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness," Rove argued. "The only thing George W. Bush has left at this point is his leadership, his steadfastness, his resolve. You can't weaken that with a 'we were wrong' strategy."

Rove wanted to step up attacks on Democrats, castigating them for advocating withdrawal from Iraq and painting them as un-American for opposing the war.

"We've tried that," Card shot back. "It didn't work."

Rove argued that the plan would work if the White House didn't quit changing strategy every time new poll numbers came in.

Bush, forced to choose between conflicting plans from two trusted aides, decided to give Card's idea a try. His first speech met with lukewarm views but his poll numbers showed a slight bump. So the White House booked more speeches with Bush showing determination mixed with just enough admission of error.

But Bush was not ready to let the Democrats off for daring to oppose him on Iraq. He told Rove to find another venue to attack opponents of the war so Rove trotted over to 310 First Street SE, home of the Republican National Committee, and pitched an inflammatory web site ad that showed Democrats slinking away in surrender.

Called "Retreat and Defeat," the ad shows Democrats waving the white flag on Iraq and has brought instant condemnation from both Democrats and Republicans.

"The Republican Party's latest ad is a shameful and disgusting attempt to distract the American people from the problems in Iraq," says Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner from World War II. "It may improve the President's political fortunes, but the American people and our troops will pay the price."

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is equally outraged:

"I don't think it's appropriate. Howard Dean is wrong when he says we can't win. It doesn't mean he's not a patriot. John Kerry wants to cut the force by two-thirds. I think he's wrong, but it doesn't mean he's not a patriot," Graham says.

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Amanda Lang Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

OpedNews volunteer from 2005 to 2013.

Amanda Lang was a wonderful member of the Opednews team, and the first volunteer editor, for a good number of years being a senior editor. She passed away summer 2014.

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