Democratic Underground

Karl Rove's Diary: Escaping the Lame Duck Trap

June 7, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

Dear Diary,

Things certainly aren't going the way I planned them.

I thought the second term would be pretty much like the first, only more-so: setting the agenda, getting pretty much our own way in Congress, the world acquiescing to our policies and demands, confused Democrats not offering much in the way of an opposition, the mass-media automatically taking their cues from us, the poll numbers remaining fairly high, etc.

Yeah, of course, I realized that there's always a lame duck effect in a second term, but we anticipated it wouldn't really show up until late-2006 or early-2007. But we were at 49% favorable right after the election - how very odd (hee, hee!) that was about the same percentage Bush received in the exit polls - and now we're in the mid- and low-40s. Damn! If we don't regain the momentum, we're going into free-fall.

I think the problem is that we didn't think big enough in terms of numbers; we barely squeaked by in 2004. We should have, how shall I put this, ensured much larger popular and electoral vote totals. If we'd won by 60%, or even 55%, we'd have had much more political momentum behind us, and therefore fewer challenges - certainly fewer Republican pols willing to stand up to us.

But when the perception is that half of the population voted for the other guy, that means we're hauling a huge anchor around our neck. Even after the beating we and our Swiftie friends laid on Kerry, and with our doing everything to keep the Dem vote down, and with throwing lots of red meat to our hungry fundamentalist friends - even after all that, we were barely able to push our guy over the finish line.

So, after a brief second-term honeymoon period, when we got the bankruptcy, estate-tax and class-action bills passed - payment in kind to our generous supporters - it's been a hard slog.


We sure took our lumps with Bolton. We thought he'd be a sure-thing; now we may have to recess-appoint him if any more of those goddamn "moderate" Republicans bolt. They're pretending to be upset that John-the-Enforcer tried to get recalcitrant CIA analysts fired and now the new revelation, that Bolton illegally orchestrated the firing of a U.S. undersecretary of state from a global arms-control agency.

Holy cow! He's only doing what we asked him to do; the liberals can't attack us directly, so they go after our designated hit-man.

We can't come right out and say it, of course, but damn it, Bolton needs to be at the U.N., laying wood when votes are needed in favor of military action against Iran and/or Syria. We can't trust a real diplomat; we need a hard-nosed Bush loyalist, a take-no-prisoners PNAC graduate like ol' Mad Dog, as he's known affectionately here.


Dumping the filibuster was an absolutely necessary move for our upcoming Supreme Court appointments. But did win a kind-of victory with the arranged "compromise."

This way we get our three most objectionable judges (Owen, Brown, Pryor) confirmed to the appellate courts, and we'll then accuse the Dems of breaking the agreement the minute they start anything that smells like obstructionism, thus permitting us to return to the nuke option in eliminating the filibuster just prior to the Supreme Court vote. In short, the Dems won't know what hit 'em.

(Note to self: apparently, McCain - who engineered the filibuster "compromise" - has forgotten the lessons we delivered to him in South Carolina in 2000; one of these days, he may wake up with a horse's head in his bed.)


Speaking of the obtuseness of our Dem opponents, they're still oblivious about why we keep the Prez plugging away on the hustings for our Social Security "reforms" when three-quarters of the American people think we're wrong and should drop the topic. (But why on earth did our Dim Son come right out and say that he was touring the country mouthing the same thing over and over in order to "catapult the propaganda"? That man needs some Super-Glue lip gloss. I should get combat pay for my babysitting duties.)

You'd think the Dems would have figured out by now why we're still flogging Social Security all over the country. Think about it. We got everything we wanted after 9/11; all we had to do was say some bill was essential for "national security" or to "stop terrorists." So... we'll keep slogging away at Social Security reform, and when the next major "event" happens, either inside the U.S. or if we are "forced" once again to attack another country, we slide that Social Security baby right through a frightened Congress. It'll be easy: those politicians are terrified of being termed "soft on terrorism" or "unpatriotic" if they don't support the Commander-in-Chief during "wartime."

As we've proved during the past four years, being in a state of permanent war means we can do most anything as long as we somehow tie it to the magic word "terrorism." Although, I must say that it's not quite as easy as it used to be. 9/11 was a long time ago, and people tend to forget how frightened they once were. Maybe the public needs periodic booster-shots. Hmm.

(Note to myself: Make sure Ridge is punished for spilling the beans about our hyped-up "terror alerts" prior to the election; all he had to do was keep his mouth shut after he resigned, but no, he's out there revealing the way we manipulated the populace with those phony alerts to keep them scared and eager for us to protect them.)


Now we get to a possible real vulnerable point. The goddamn war in Iraq. Not the war per se, as the fact that the traitorous media is revealing all sorts of things that were not meant for public exposure. Like how the Army has found that the Koran was indeed abused badly at Gitmo, urinated on, stepped on, defaced and so on; now we look ridiculous for making Newsweek stand in the corner and apologize for saying pretty much the same thing we're admitting. (Lucky for us Newsweek did a Rather and got a sourcing fact wrong.)

Sure, we want our interrogators at Gitmo and elsewhere to "break" those prisoners, by whatever means are required, but why can't the goddamn military keep their troops disciplined, by which I mean silent? Now the word's out and we're catching hell all over the globe. Thank God, there aren't any photos or videos of such behavior!

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and the Red Cross and so on are all making a big stink about how we've turned into the Soviets and Nazis by mistreating, abusing, torturing and humiliating prisoners - even hiding some of them, "ghosting" them, from the designated international observers.

I wish we could come right out and just say it: "Yes, we have done all that, in our own little gulags; what are you going to do about it? These are killers and we need to keep them off the streets by whatever means necessary, including killing the worst ones if we have to, and disrespecting their holy book in order to make them know who's boss."

Instead, we have to deny all and feign outrage, denouncing the messenger, as usual, without confronting the message head-on. Oh well, such is politics in a politically-correct age.

But Rumsfeld and Cheney are almost worse than Dim Bulb; in recent days, each has made a terrible Freudian slip in calling the Gitmo detainees "prisoners of war," a big mistake since our whole policy for their not falling under Geneva Convention protections is that they are not POWs but "enemy combatants." Get back in line, fellas.


The bad news is that the torture/Koran issue is melding with the revelations in the Downing Street Memo - that both Blair and Bush were engaged in a conspiracy to fool our respective citizens into believing that we in the Administration were truly interested in a diplomatic solution when the decision to attack Iraq actually had been made nearly a year before the invasion.

And when you add to that "smoking gun" the growth and sophistication of the insurgent forces in Iraq, and the increasing threat of ethnic civil strife erupting in that country, the Iraq War and our handling of it could build to critical mass in the public mind. The might even be willing to consider that maybe the U.S. should bug out of there stat. Can't have that now, can we?


Given that liberal journalists are constantly bringing up the Administration's so-called sins of commission and omission, it's not surprising that the "I" word is starting to be bandied about again, as it was when Abu Ghraib broke. I don't think we need worry ourselves about impeachment during this second term - our GOP friends will hang tight in the Congress, even if they despise us; they know on which side their political bread is buttered, and will do nothing to harm their own holds on power and influence.

But there is a growing rumble out there, and not just from disgruntled and angry Democrats, that we in the Administration have grown too big for our britches and are taking the country way too far to the right - and "incompetently" at that - and need to be reined in. We sure did get our asses whupped by bowing to the fundamentalists in the Schiavo fiasco; and the House and Senate both passed funding bills for highway projects and stem-cell research despite the threat of a presidential veto - not good signs.)

Most importantly, the Dems are chomping at the bit to initiate impeachment hearings, especially over Iraq and how we got there, but, unless the public suddenly gets stirred up to take action against us in a big way - not bloody likely, as they're willing to let us do anything as long as we keep them safe - I think we can weather the storm.

Hell, our role-model here should be Tom DeLay; the liberals have nearly got the noose around his neck and can't wait for the lynching to start, but The Hammer keeps pounding, and confounding, his critics. Hang in there, Tom! (Whoops, bad choice of words.)

But what about after 2008? Unless Jeb or another leader we can count on is elected, we still might have to worry about facing criminal, civil and international war-crimes charges associated with our eight years of rule. Can't let that happen.

Gotta talk to Poppy and Jeb - and Wally over at Diebold.

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught politics and international relations at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers. Send comments to

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