I keep returning to Bilmon's Rove post. Especially this segment:
But I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness.
The rhetorical assault on the liberals, in other words, is the core of the PR counteroffensive the White House has been promising to unleash for the past week.
Having been advised by the "moderates" to level with the American people and explain just how badly things have gone off the track in Iraq, and how much time, treasure and blood it will take to redeem Bush's casual promises of victory, the Rovians apparently have decided they can't do it -- not without suffering unacceptable casualties on the home front. American troops, after all, are expendable. But Bush's political capital is both precious and increasingly scarce. Much too scarce, apparently, to waste on an exercise as frivolous as a presidential appeal for patriotic unity and shared sacrifice.
A few things strike me as particularly interesting.
First, Rove didn't make these comments in a broader, public context. He made them at a fundraiser for or with a gathering of New York state conservatives. So, as Bilmon suggests, this rancid denunctiation of "libruls" was intended to help sure up the administration's base, which may be at risk of getting itchy, given all the turmoil overseas generated by Bush-Cheney-Rove.
Second, while Rove's comments were no doubt calculated and deliberate, they nonetheless indicate signs of the administration coming unglued. It's as if Rove took the talking points that regularly get fed to Fox, Ann Coulter, Rush, and Powerline and simply said them himself. As Bilmon notes, the administration has been challenged by its more moderate party members to come clean about the challenges the country faces in Iraq and elsewhere. Bush-Rove have listened to this advice and have essentially told them and us to stick it. For whatever reason, they believe the only option open to them now is to attack "the enemy within".
Whatever one might say about this administration up till this point, they have at least appeared to be in control. But the Rove salvo is an indication that as was promised a few weeks ago, the WH is gearing up for an all-out assault on its in country opponents. Its naked partisan ambition is coming out of the closet. Although his party controls both houses of Congress and is responsible for a majority of the members sitting on the courts, W still feels this isn't enough.
He promised to change the tone in Washington. Now we may get to see what he meant by that. Change the tone alright. Change it so that only Republican voices get heard.
The president has never shown an inclination to compromise or recognize the merits of the minority party's rights and the constituencies it represents. But he's bitter nonetheless that members of another party, which supported him in large measure against its better judgement in the first years after 9-11, but remaining unconsulted by the administration in matters of policy, and ridiculed by the administration's allies in the press, won't go along entirely with his agenda.
As the administration continues its assault against opponents and dissenters, we can expect things to only get worse.