The outrage of Karl Rove

Dick Durbin was forced to apologize for speaking the truth. Will Rove apologize for telling a slanderous lie?

Topics: War Room, Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Karl Rove,

So Dick Durbin has apologized for speaking the truth in a way that Republicans found just outrageous. Can we expect an apology from Karl Rove for spreading a lie?

In a speech in Manhattan last night, Rove slandered Democrats for their response to 9/11. “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war,” Rove said. “Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”

It’s an old argument, one that Dick Cheney used often against John Kerry last year. It’s also false. When al-Qaida attacked the United States in 2001, the country united behind George W. Bush — conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats — and supported an attack on the country, Afghanistan, that had provided al-Qaida with its base of operations. Did a few far-left liberals oppose that operation? Sure. But to say that “liberals” as a group wanted to “prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” is about as accurate as saying that all U.S. soldiers treat detainees like Nazis would have. Dick Dubin didn’t say the latter, but he apologized anyway. Karl Rove did say the former, and we’re betting he won’t.

Durbin’s televised apology from the Senate floor was a sorry sight to see. He got all teary-eyed as he donned the sackcloth, quoting Abraham Lincoln and extending his “heartfelt apologies” to anyone he offended. If there had been a scarlet letter and a public stockade around, he surely would have used those, too. And for what? For saying that the military’s worst mistreatment of detainees sounds like the sort of things that a Nazi might do.

Scott McClellan smugly announced that the apology was “the right thing to do.” But why did Durbin do it? Maybe he felt that he had to, but it’s hard to see what he thought he was getting out of it. He had to know that saying he was sorry wouldn’t put the issue behind him, that it would give the Republicans a news peg for a whole new round of smears. And that’s exactly what has happened. In his Manhattan speech, Rove kept piling on Durbin’s original remarks. “Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?” he asked. “Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Sen. Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.”

Put that together. The “motives of liberals” is to put “our troops at greater risk”? Is that what Rove is saying?

If it is, let’s put this in fairly simple terms. There’s a man out there who put our troops at risk in the first place, a man who has sent more than 1,700 Ameican soldiers to their deaths in a war that was sold on a series of lies about ties to al-Qaida that weren’t there and weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. That man is Karl Rove’s boss, and we’re waiting for an apology from him, too.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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