Cliff Kincaid
Romney must blame Bush to win
By Cliff Kincaid
October 1, 2012

There is no question that Barack Obama is getting a lot of support by "blaming Bush" for the bad economy and other problems. Conservatives can complain all they want about media bias in favor of Obama, but there is no doubt that the record of George W. Bush's two terms as president has left a sour taste in the mouth of the electorate. Every time that Republican strategist Karl Rove appears on Fox News or writes another op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that gets quoted somewhere, he reminds people about the Bush record and the tainted Republican brand that Rove helped define. Rove served as Bush's deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. He is best known as Bush's top political strategist.

It is time for conservatives and Republicans to tell the truth about what Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, did to the country. More importantly, if he stands any chance of winning, Mitt Romney must disavow Bush and acknowledge the wreckage of his presidency.

As noted by Liz Marlantes of the Christian Science Monitor, Rove is one of Romney's "highest-profile backers" by running American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two of the best-financed political groups which have "lent crucial support to Romney by placing big ad buys on his behalf in swing states." She suggests that Rove may abandon Romney if he does not turn in a great debate performance on Wednesday night.

Marlantes has it backwards. Romney should instead consider giving Rove the boot.

The public hates liberal media bias, but it also does not want to return to the days when Bush Republicans ruled the roost. Look at the facts. Obama blames Bush for the bad economy, and many voters agree with him. Sixty-eight percent of voters in a Gallup poll said Bush deserved either a great deal or a moderate amount of blame. The economy collapsed in September of 2008, guaranteeing Obama's election. Bush presided over federal bailouts of the economy, saying he had to abandon the free market in order to save it. His exact quote: "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."

Bush's policy of war in Iraq was supposed to produce a functioning Arab democracy, but instead gave us a client state of Iran in power in Baghdad, at a cost of 4,487 dead Americans, and now a war with Iran may be inevitable. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Romney adviser Max Boot notes that "a militant Shiite with close links to Iran," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is accumulating "all the power in Baghdad," and adds that "Iran is using Iraqi airspace to send airplanes full of weapons to the Assad regime in Syria." What a disaster.

"This dismaying outcome might have been averted if U.S. troops were still present in Iraq," writes Boot. But this is another feeble attempt to divert attention away from a war started by Bush, with the approval of Congress, which turned into a nation-building exercise under Bush (and then Obama) that has backfired on the U.S. People aren't buying Boot's claim that Obama is to blame for this disaster. In fact, most are probably grateful that he got our troops out. Our troops did the best they could, trying to establish a functioning democracy. It was an honorable mission.

It is a fair point that Obama's decision to terminate the U.S. troop presence in Iraq facilitated the expansion of Iran's influence in Iraq and that Al-Qaeda has re-emerged there. But it doesn't get Bush off the hook for foolishly trying to build a Western-style and pro-U.S. democracy in Iraq.

Bush's war in Afghanistan, which began in the wake of 9/11 and was supposed to prevent the country from serving as a base for future terrorist attacks, goes on, with the number of U.S. military deaths in that war surpassing 2,000. Almost every day, we learn more about our "allies" killing our own soldiers.

You can't blame Americans for concluding that Muslim "democracy" is a tragic farce and fraud and that our troops should come home.

Obama's decisions have made the situation worse, but it was bad to begin with. Obama wants to end the war in Afghanistan, consistent with his strategy of seeing the United States withdraw militarily from the region, as the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda take power and gather in strength in such places as Egypt, Libya, and Syria. The Obama Administration refused to intervene in any way in Iran to support a true people's revolution there. This was unconscionable.

The Republican dilemma is they can't criticize Obama without acknowledging that Bush failed to end the wars he started, in a way that would benefit U.S. national security interests. So Romney decides, for the most part, that he just doesn't want to talk about it. He must go further and disassociate himself from the Bush record of failure. His ability to win may hinge on his own willingness to "blame Bush."

The Obama Administration has collaborated with the Muslim Brotherhood and is trying foolishly to make Egypt into a democracy run by these Islamists. That is as foolish, or more so, than what Bush tried to do in Iraq. Obama's policy has already backfired against U.S. interests, as we have seen with the anti-American violence and murders of four Americans in Libya.

But Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy has noted that the Bush White House, under the direction of Karl Rove, opened the door to the Muslim Brotherhood when the Republicans ran the show. That is one reason why Rove's re-emergence in this year's presidential race is so worrisome. His mere presence in the media, coupled with the perception that he is aiding Romney, is a huge negative. Frankly put, people are sick of him.

Jeb Bush told the GOP convention in Tampa that Obama should stop blaming his brother for the nation's problems. But George W. Bush didn't show his face at the GOP convention for the very reason that he would remind people of why they voted the Republicans out in 2008. That is when Obama won and the Democrats took control of Congress. Rove, however, had promised that Republicans would rule for a generation.

The Republican Party wants to leave George W. Bush behind, but the "architect" or mastermind of his presidency, Karl Rove, still seems to be in charge of the Republican Party as a whole. What does this mean for conservatives? Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin can begin to tell us. Rove gave him a knife in the back and even joked about his murder. It is telling that Mitt Romney also called on Akin to leave the race. He is clearly under Rove's influence.

The evidence shows that Rove is sabotaging the conservative movement. At the same time, Rove is actively advising Republicans not to call Obama a socialist or left-winger.

Some think Rove is secretly working for another Bush, Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and thinks that four more disastrous years of Obama will make it smooth sailing for Jeb Bush in 2016. It is difficult for some to believe that Rove could be pursuing such a strategy. Romney would certainly be surprised if that is the case. But everything we have learned about Rove's strategy in this year's political campaign suggests it is designed to fail.

In order to have any chance of winning, Romney has to blame Bush in a rational way that takes into account the Bush failures in domestic and foreign policy. This is the only honest approach. But that means he has to perform a lobotomy on the Republican Party in order to eliminate "Bush's brain."

Whether this happens or not will depend on who is wielding more power in the Republican Party. Will Romney put Rove in his place? Or is he too dependent on him?

© Cliff Kincaid


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