Come To Jesus, By Proxy
Fred Hiatt plays the role of penitent by proxy this morning, suddenly coming to Jesus in a revelation that Rove was a divisive source of bile within the Beltway with no real talent for the real work of governing — all front end flash and no strong finish. Color me shocked.
…Mr. Rove was very good at gathering, analyzing and exploiting information about the electorate. He cared about what actual voters actually thought — yes, including their “anger points.”…
But when polling data showed Mr. Rove that there was more to be gained, politically, by intensifying support among the conservative Republican base, Mr. Bush abandoned persuading the middle and focused on motivating the right. Thus were born a host of policies — on Social Security, Guantanamo, stem cell research, same-sex marriage and so on — that deepened the country’s polarization and helped alienate even old friends around the globe. The quality of American political discourse was not enhanced by the (successful) Republican attack on disabled Vietnam veteran Max Cleland, a Democratic senator from Georgia, as soft on defense. And, over the long term, Mr. Bush’s short-term exploitation of Rove-identified anger points left the president with less political capital than he might have had otherwise — capital he badly needed when the major initiative of his presidency, the war in Iraq, turned sour. On immigration, Mr. Bush pursued a moderate course, based in part on Mr. Rove’s perception that the Republicans could not afford to alienate the fast-growing Hispanic demographic. But, by then, the president had lost control even of his own party’s Senate caucus.
But, alas, Mr. Hiatt misses the important phase of penitence: admission of his own sins and a genuine desire to correct past errors and make amends. The man and his op-ed page at the WaPo make Harriet Miers’ cheerleading of the Bush Administration look positively skeptical. Is there an issue mentioned in the above excerpt for which Hiatt did not pick up the pompons? Does Hiatt take any responsibility for his own pimping of the Rovian tropes? Nope. Let’s take a stroll through a small excerpt of Fred’s pantheon, shall we?
— Leaking selective portions of the NIE for manipulative political purposes is good for America.
— Consistently supporting the plan of a hack.
— A great round-up of the myriad “Gee, your war smells terrific!” rah rahs, with bonus Alito propaganda. This one comes with blood pressure warnings. (H/T Armando at DKos.) And I think Jane really catches the essence of Hiatt with this one, as does Glenn here.
— What is this thing you call diplomacy?
— Domestic spying without a warrant is a-okay, and anyone who says otherwise is unpatriotic.
— If the President says it’s okay, then you shouldn’t ask any questions.
And it keeps going, on and on and on. I meant it — I could keep posting links for days. Is there a GOP meme that Hiatt has ever met that he won’t use? Doubtful. And the fobbing off of all this ugliness on Rove with nary a mention of his role as chief pusher of the partisan hackery dimebags to the masses? Not passing without mention here, I can tell you that.
Here’s a thought, Freddy boy: next time you see a corrosive, vindictive, nasty, partisan hack directing political traffic — how about calling them out for their craptastic behavior while they are still in power, instead of waiting until they’ve already slunk out of town as a failure and already done their damage to the rest of the nation.
I suppose penitence on the back end ought to be welcome. But shouldn’t there actually be some actual self-examination and a commitment to be more cynical and honest about your own motivations — both privately and publicly — going forward? Jay Rosen may be correct — that this desire to appear savvy takes precedence over every other consideration including honesty, but that is an enormously egotistical way to run the Fourth Estate, isn’t it? Of course, with such a diligent accountability hound as Deborah Howell on the case for the public’s interest, I’m sure we’ll be seeing some real backpeddling and accountability from the WaPo editorial page any damn minute.
(Mary Magdalene by Bartolome Esteban Murillo 1650-55 Oil on canvas via mharrsch.)