I went on Countdown last night to talk about what Keith Olbermann called Karl Rove's "attack on history."
During an interview with Charlie Rose, the erstwhile Boy Genius pulled out his bucket of whitewash and audaciously claimed that "one of the untold stories" about the war in Iraq is that the Bush administration had been "opposed' to Congress holding the vote authorizing the president to use military force in Iraq just a few weeks prior to the 2002 elections because "we thought it made it too political."
Too political? For Karl Rove? That's like saying something was too bloody for Count Dracula.
He went on to paint a picture of a White House pushed into war, and laid the blame for much of what has happened since on a Congress that had "made things move too fast." If not for Congress, you see, there would have been more time for weapons inspections, and to build a broader coalition.
It was a satiric tour de force worthy of Jonathan Swift or Stephen Colbert -- but Rove wasn't joking. He actually expected us to buy his load of b.s. Watching Rove, two things were perfectly clear: his disdain for the truth and his contempt for the American people know no bounds.
Rove's appearance was the work of a shameless, remorseless, soulless political animal taking the first steps on what will no doubt be a high profile and lucrative march toward historical revisionism. He knows that he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the fanatics responsible for the worst foreign policy disaster in American history -- not exactly the best thing to put on your post-government resume -- so he is hell-bent on replacing reality with the latest incarnation of The Big Lie.
A student of history, Rove is obviously also up on his Orwell: "Who controls the past, controls the future."
Unfortunately for Rove, this isn't 1984; we now live in the Age of Google, and YouTube, and Lexis-Nexis searches. So the refutation of his lies is just a click away.
The evidence that it was President Bush and Vice President Cheney -- and not Congress -- who were hungry for war is overwhelming. For starters, we have Bush's own words before the vote, when he explicitly told Congress that "it's in our national interest" to get the vote "done as quickly as possible." And the insistence of then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that "delaying a vote in Congress would send the wrong message." And the words of then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle who says that when he asked Bush in September 2002 why there was such a rush for a vote on Iraq the president "looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.'"
And there is the insider evidence provided by Richard Clarke, who wrote that within hours of the 9/11 attacks, this administration had its heart set on heading into Iraq. And from Paul O'Neill, who made it clear that invading Iraq had been Bush's goal before he had even learned where the Oval Office supply closet was.
Even now, with his approval ratings scraping the bottom of the historical barrel, Bush still dominates the Congressional agenda on the war. And Rove wants us to buy that back in the heady days of 2002, when the president was still riding a wave of support forged by 9/11, his desire for caution and reasoned action were overridden by a war hungry Congress? "We don't determine when the Congress votes on things," Rove told Rose. "The Congress does." I guess he and Bush landed on the whole "I'm the Decider" thing later (maybe after they orchestrated that triumphal landing on the Abraham Lincoln).
The truth is that the zealots in the White House were not about to allow their desires to invade Iraq -- which had been laid out years earlier by the Project for a New American Century -- be quashed by anything as piddling as the facts or the evidence or reasoned debate or Congress. Especially a Congress populated with Democratic leaders so rattled and timid that to call them spineless would be an insult to invertebrates everywhere.
Indeed, it was the perfect political environment for an administration intent on shoving a war down the throats of Congress and the American people.
Let's remember, this was the time when the administration had pulled together the White House Study Group (which included Rove himself) with the express mission of marketing the war. These people weren't in the mood to wait, they were in the mood to sell, sell, sell. The Downing Street Memo showed that by July of 2002 they were already fixing the intel to sell the war. By August 2002 the White House was already using Judy Miller and the New York Times as prime advertising space. And by September 2002, Condi Rice was already warning of smoking guns turning out to be mushroom clouds, and Cheney was using aluminum tubes to make the case that Saddam was "actively and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons."
So the record is irrefutable: the drumbeat of war coming from the White House couldn't have been louder. And no amount of 5-years-down the road spinning by Karl Rove is going to change that truth.