Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rove: GOP to Use Terror As Campaign Issue

I've been kind of holding back for the moment, reading and watching the blogosphere. Then I find this little story. This is from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - Embattled White House adviser Karl Rove vowed Friday to make the war on terrorism a central campaign issue in November. He also said Democratic senators looked "mean-spirited and small-minded" in questioning Supreme Court nominee
Samuel Alito.

"Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world. And Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world," Rove told Republican activists. "That doesn't make them unpatriotic, not at all. But it does make them wrong — deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean denounced Rove's remarks and renewed his call for the deputy White House chief of staff to be fired for his role in leaking a
CIA official's name. "That is both unpatriotic and wrong," Dean said.

Rove, making a rare public address while under investigation in the CIA leak case, joined Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman in warning GOP leaders against falling prey to the corrupting nature of power.

"The GOP's progress during the last four decades is a stunning political achievement. But it is also a cautionary tale of what happens to a dominant party — in this case, the Democrat Party — when its thinking becomes ossified; when its energy begins to drain; when an entitlement mentality takes over; and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a mean to achieve the common goal," Rove told
Republican National Committee members ending a two-day meeting.

"We need to learn from our successes," he said, "and from the failures of others."

Two things have been tickling the back of my mind here. The first, obviously, has been the Republican Party's disregard for any accountability for the missteps, scandals, and corruption that have taken hold in Washington. I find it interesting that Rove talks about a "cautionary tale" of a dominant party, that he names as the Democratic Party, becoming "ossified." The Democrats do not control Washington, nor do they control any of the branches of government--Congress, the Presidency, and soon-to-be Supreme Court. The dominant party here is the Republicans--and they've become ossified with an "entitlement mentality" of caving in to corporate interests and religious ideology, while seeking political power of a "unitary" executive branch, unecumbered by any such check on its power and the ability to completely shred the Constitution and civil rights of Americans. If you want an example where "political power becomes an end in itself rather than a mean to achieve the common goal," just look at Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's comment to Republican Party activists that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was the "worst nightmare of liberal Democrats." In some ways, this "culture of corruption" has permiated throughout the Republican Party and the entire conservative movement in general. Consider this story from the Los Angeles Times:

A fledgling alumni group headed by a former campus Republican leader is offering students payments of up to $100 per class to provide information on instructors who are "abusive, one-sided or off-topic" in advocating political ideologies.

The year-old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative takes aim at faculty "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic." Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial "Dirty 30" of teachers it identifies with left-wing or liberal causes.

Some of the instructors mentioned accuse the association of conducting a witch hunt that threatens to harm the teaching atmosphere, and at least one of the group's advisory board members has resigned because he considers the bounty offers inappropriate. The university said it will warn the association that selling copies of professors' lectures would violate campus rules and raise copyright issues.

The Bruin Alumni Assn. is headed by Andrew Jones, a 24-year-old who graduated in June 2003 and was chairman of UCLA's Bruin Republicans student group. He said his organization, which is registered with the state as a nonprofit, does not charge dues and has no official members, but has raised a total of $22,000 from 100 donors. Jones said the biggest contribution to the group, $5,000, came from a foundation endowed by Arthur N. Rupe, 88, a Santa Barbara resident and former Los Angeles record producer.

Jones' group is following in the footsteps of various conservative groups that have taken steps, including monitoring professors, to counter what they regard as an overwhelming leftist tilt at elite colleges and universities around the country. He said many of these efforts, however, have done a poor job of documenting their claims. As a result, Jones said, the Bruin Alumni Assn. is offering to pay students for tapes and notes from classes.

Talk about power corrupts.

But there's another thought that has been tickling the back of my mind. Where is the Democratic response to these Republican Party transgressions? When is the Democratic Party going to regain a spine, and start attacking the Republicans for the five years of incompetent leadership and corruption? There are so many scandals, issues that the Democrats can use, but it seems they are not doing anything about them. When I look over the liberal and progressive blogs, I see a lot of anger and anxiety from commenters--and this is not just the posters of the different blogs--regarding where this country is heading, and why isn't there a viable opposition forming within the higher leadership position of the Democratic Party? Why are Democratic senators taking off the filibuster on Alito?

There is a lot of anxiety and fear within this country, but I don't think it is fear of a boogyman terrorist Osama Bin Laden. I believe that fear is starting to grow among Americans regarding the economy, the growing corruption scandals of the Republican Party and how they are representing the interests of corporations and elites, rather than of ordinary Americans. Among the liberals and progressives, there is fear that President Bush has now become the first dictator in American history, and that he will continue accumulating unitary executive powers, while also reducing the civil liberties of American citizens--more illegal wiretaps and domestic spying on American citizens. There certainly is fear that the war in Iraq is a complete disaster and a lost cause, although I wonder if the American public is willing to admit to this yet. I wonder if there is fear that the country is going down the wrong track--certainly I read enough of the progressive blogs stating this. But is it also resonating within the general public at large? Bush's job performance rating is still at around 38-40 percent--depending on whatever poll you choose to look at. The Republican Party is pulling a page out of their old playbook in heightening the fears of Americans by equating such fears with the boogyman Osama. Rove will continue to trump the Democratic Party as being unpatriotic and will surrender to the terrorists. How far will this playbook take them if the other issues of corruption and the economy take center stage later this year.

Will the Democratic Party play up on these fears, and on the Republicans inability to tackle them?

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