Unethical Republican Spin
The Perils of the Permanent Campaign
...(Bush's) Administration represents the final, squalid perfection of the Permanent Campaign: a White House where almost every move is tactical, a matter of momentary politics, even decisions that involve life and death and war. That is what the Scooter Libby indictment is really all about.
It is about trying to spin a war.
Bush's White House is a conundrum, a bastion of telegenic idealism and deep cynicism. The President has proposed vast, transformational policies—the remaking of the Middle East, of Social Security, of the federal bureaucracy. But he has done so in a haphazard way, with little attention to detail or consequences. There are grand pronouncements and, yes, crusades, punctuated with marching words like evil and moral and freedom. Beneath, though, is the cynical assumption that the public doesn't care about the details—that results don't matter, corners can be cut and special favors bestowed.
Bush opposed a Department of Homeland Security, then supported it as a campaign ploy—and then allowed it to be slapped together carelessly, diminishing the effectiveness of the agencies involved.
But worse, far worse, was the tendency of the White House—particularly Karl Rove's message apparatus—to see the war as part of the Permanent Campaign, as a political opportunity at first and then, as the news turned bad, as merely another issue to be massaged. There is something quite obscene about the existence of the White House Iraq Group (whig). Its job had nothing to do with the military or political situation in Iraq; it was created to market the war and to smear the President's opponents. Rove and Libby were at the heart of this group. Their decision to ask Congress for a war resolution in September 2002, two months before the congressional elections, seemed an obvious marketing ploy. Rove told Republicans that they could "go to the country with this issue," that it would reinforce the party's image as strong on defense. The simultaneous decision to take the Iraq situation to the United Nations was also a campaign ploy—polls showed the vast majority of voters favored this course—and a chimera. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld were opposed to the move, and Rumsfeld pretty much ignored it: he proceeded full-speed ahead, deploying troops for a late-winter invasion.
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