The man who sold the war

When we look back on Karl Rove's reign, Iraq will be his shameful legacy.

Published August 13, 2007 1:37PM (EDT)

We'll have continuing coverage of Karl Rove's resignation, with stories by Sidney Blumenthal and Lou Dubose coming later today. Tim Grieve kicked it off in War Room with a scan of some of Rove's highs and lows -- lows and lowers might be more apt. I find myself looking back, and not fondly, on his role in squandering the political goodwill President Bush had after 9/11 by savaging Democrats as wimpy appeasers who weren't as tough on terror as the GOP.

In January 2002 he told a Republican National Committee luncheon: "Americans trust the Republicans to do a better job of keeping our communities and our families safe. We can also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America." As the New York Times reported, this was just four days after Bush told a town hall meeting in Ontario, Calif.: "It's time to take the spirit of unity that has been prevalent when it comes to fighting the war and bring it to Washington, D.C." Throughout 2002 he told Republican candidates to trust him and to "focus on the war." He chaired the White House Iraq Group, which was devoted to selling the notion that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to the United States.

In a parting shot at Democrats in the Wall Street Journal today, he calls Sen. Hillary Clinton "a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate," and boasts that Republicans will defeat her to win the White House next year. He insists he's heading home to spend more time with his family (although it's hard not to imagine that the many investigations swirling around the White House somehow factored into his plans). I find myself thinking this morning, perhaps uncharitably: If only Rove had left the White House six years ago to be with his family, the nearly 3,700 Americans who've died in the needless war he peddled might still be with theirs.

By Joan Walsh

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