An Apology For Durbin? But Don't Wait for Rove

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET
  • David Corn Washington Bureau Chief, Mother Jones

Now that the Bush administration has reportedly conceded that torture occurred at Guatanamo, I am sure we will see apologies extended to Senator Dick Durbin from Scott McClellan, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Newt Gingrich, Hugh Hewitt, Trent Lott, Bill Frist, Sean Hannity, the Washington Times, Michelle Malkin, the Weekly Standard and every other person and institution that excoriated Durbin for having dared to suggest that the torture-like practices at Guantanamo were more befitting of Nazis and Soviet gulag-keepers than the personnel of the US military. But I digress from what I had intended to write about....

Isn't it nice to see Karl Rove being placed on the defensive for even just a moment? (I hope Durbin is enjoying this.) Still, this Rove fuss probably won't last long, for this White House never acknowledges wrong. There will be no apology from Bush's Brain. This gang has learned a very useful lesson in politics (perhaps from a fellow named Bill Clinton): shame is bad. That is, if you don't allow yourself to be shamed, you can get away with a lot. So Rove, who works for a guy who says he wants to be a uniter-not-a-divider, accuses liberals of not wanting to defend their country, and the Bushies proclaim, "Well done!" Could it be that Bush was not serious when he spoke of his heartfelt desire to heal and unite this nation? At this point in the discussion, the average conservatives will declare, "But the other side is really, really nasty and calls the president a liar and says he's evil and mocks him for being a dumb, smirking monkey-buffoon and accuses him of killing Americans in order to enrich his oil-industry pals. Isn't that being divisive?" Well, yes, it is. But (a) partisans have the right to be divisive and (b) Bush never said, "I shall only be a uniter-not-a-divider if the other side is always polite to me." He's the president. Supposedly he works for all Americans, even the ones who voted against him. (Rove, too, is a taxpayer-funded government servant.) Call me quaint, but I do believe Bush (like any president) has an obligation to try to rise above the partisan back-and-forth. And, after all, he voluntarily took on that mission. But one can only assume--get this!--he didn't really mean it when he promised to be a uniter. Unless he meant, "I will be a uniter but I will happily employ those who traffic in the most divisive politics possible."

Rove's non-uniting remarks at that Conservative Party fundraiser in New York were no accident. He started his rampage this week by appearing on Hardball and accusing Democrats of caring more about politics than the security of the nation. For more on that, click here. And Rove was not the only GOPer this week trying to exploit 9/11 for political ends. And to see another example of this crass Republican strategy--and the response of Kristen Breitweiser (a 9/11 widow and HuffingtonPost blogger)--click here.