This whole show is amazing, and not always in a good way either.
Last Saturday, Donald Trump went full Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan/Code Pink on George W. Bush – as a way to attack Jeb Bush – and by God it seems to have worked.
Now it makes absolutely no sense on the surface that going Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan would score points in a Republican primary fight. I mean it’s one thing when Cindy Sheehan goes Cindy Sheehan – but when a Republican Presidential candidate does it? WTF as some might say.
And yet it seems to have worked, or at least not backfired. So let’s scratch beneath the surface.
The most obvious dynamic this reveals is that many Republican and would be Republican voters absolutely hate the Republican establishment more than they revere the truth or want real solutions. Trump’s attacks were outrageous, incendiary and only based very shallowly in truth. They were also attacks from the far left, not the far right, against the establishment and the Bush family specifically. There is no way that anyone who values truth over anger would celebrate this.
It should be condemned.
Now look, I love attacking the GOP-e and the Bush family as much as anybody. Heck, I’ve made a cottage industry out of it and have done it longer than almost anyone – and far longer than Trump has in fact – but I always fire from the right. There is plenty of room to slam Jeb Bush on the right, and Trump and Ted Cruz and others have done so in the past. As they should.
But this particular vitriol is right out of the far left loon Daily Kos playbook. This represents a hatred and an emotion that is beyond the pale. Yet it has worked so far. It has not hurt Trump. It may have helped him. We’ll know more about that this coming Saturday when the votes come in.
So does the anger at the establishment explain it all? No, not by a long shot. The stage was set for this kind of attack to work by the George W. Bush White House – with Bush and Karl Rove and their impotent communications strategy known as “the new tone.” The new tone was the doctrine by which the Bush White House would not respond to any attack from any Democrat and any liberal – no matter how outrageous.
It was the direct result of the muddy controversial ending to the 2000 General Election – the hanging chads and all of that. It was almost an admission of illegitimacy. It also contributed to 9-11 – but more on that in a moment.
Moreover, this new tone was a strategy that included falling on swords for any and every problem, even when the roots of the problem could be easily traced to the Clinton Administration or liberals in Congress or out of control bureaucrats. This was part and parcel of the Rovian strategy that thinks we all live in a world of 24/7 news cycles – and thus Rove simply wants to not engage and move past bad news cycles.
The notion that maybe you could use the truth to reverse a negative news cycle never enters the Rove mind. You know, something called persuasion. It doesn’t always work, but it is guaranteed not to work if you don’t even try.
The problem with this strategy is that you can never move past blame you don’t deserve if you don’t confront it. Liberal narratives – on 9-11, on Hurricane Katrina response, on the economy – only harden and firm up over time when no one counters them.
What were Bush and Rove thinking?
Whatever they were thinking, they were wrong. Proof that my theory of narratives is right and Rove’s is wrong is what we saw Saturday night. The fact of the matter is 9-11 was more directly the result of Clinton policies carried out by liberal hacks like Jamie Gorelick than anything the brand new Bush administration had done or not done.
It was Gorelick, and her wall of separation between the CIA and the FBI that was more responsible for Atta and the boys carrying out their plans than any other single factor. She was a liberal, doing what liberals do, which is destroy America.
As an aside, Gorelick was also instrumental in something else Trump has blamed Bush for – crashing the economy in 2008 – which I wrote about at the time.
Moreover, there were other left wing concocted constraints on our intelligence agencies dating back to the 1970s and the infamous “Church Commission.” Again, applied liberalism by Democrats that works to undermine the country.
These are historical facts, not excuses. The Bush White House owed these truths to the American people – and oh by the way – it would have helped them – and us- politically too. But that’s not the new tone way. Truth doesn’t matter to these geniuses.
Thus, after 15 years of never responding to the “why’s” of 9-11 and simply letting opponents focus on the “who’s watch” question – family Bush is still vulnerable. How is that moving past the news cycle thing working for you there Karl oh buddy?
(Speaking of who’s watch, keep in mind that 9-11 was dreamed up, hatched, planned, financed and practiced mostly on Clinton’s watch. You think maybe some Republican communications wizard might have come up with that talking point? Of course not.)
Thus, the damage family Bush absorbed Saturday night was in large part self inflicted. Most of Bush’s political wounds were. He somehow thought the bully pulpit was his – and not ours – and thus he falsely assumed he was being noble by falling on his sword undeservedly. The problem, W, is that those swords were OUR swords, not just yours. We still pay the price today for you getting blamed for everything the left blames you for.
And the irony is demonstrated by what happened Saturday night. Shame on Trump for doing this – especially when there is legitimate criticism around the neocon nation building of the Bush Administration. That would have been a valid point, but that’s not where Trump went.
But shame on George W. Bush and Karl Rove for setting the stage and making such an attack possible. Liberal narratives never die when uncontested. In fact, they firm up. It’s one of the lessons the Republican establishment refuses to understand. That someone with massive conservative support could score points with it is a paradox for another column.
Edmund Wright is a contributor to Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network – and author of Amazon Best Seller Election Book WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.
This is installment 13 of the series Rove-Stupid: The New Definition of the Republican Establishment. You can find the rest here.