Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Art of the Headline

Rove's Version of 2002 War Vote Is Disputed

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 1, 2007; Page A06

Former White House aide Karl Rove said yesterday it was Congress, not President Bush, who wanted to rush a vote on the looming war in Iraq in the fall of 2002

Paragraph 8

News accounts and transcripts at the time show Bush arguing against delay. Asked on Sept. 13, 2002, about Democrats who did not want to vote until after the U.N. Security Council acted, Bush said, "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

While some Democrats urged delay, news accounts reported that some party leaders wanted a quick vote to move the issue off the front burner and leave several weeks before the election to focus on pocketbook issues that they felt would be more advantageous. Daschle said Sept. 17 on PBS that he expected a vote "sooner rather than later." Two days later, Bush sent a proposed resolution to Capitol Hill, saying: "We've got to move before the elections."

And the coup de Grace

Fleischer said. "It was definitely the Bush administration that set it in motion and determined the timing, not the Congress," he said. "I think Karl in this instance just has his facts wrong."

OK so at least Baker makes it clear that Rove is lying (and more dishonest than Ari Fleischer !). The headline is really at the "Shape of Earth: Opinions Differ" level (although not the level of the original Krugman line "Shape of Earth: Both Sides have a Point").

What is Rove doing ? He knows that being caught lying is not a problem for him. He has never been well known to the public and currently belongs to the past. No one is going to vote for the Democrats because they are shocked that Rove lied -- no one who could still be shocked is paying attention. Rove also knows that refuted claims have some influence on people as is proven here . Finally his motto is "don't attack their weaknesses attack their strengths."

The Democrats strongest point is that the Republicans got us in to Iraq. Rove's false claim wouldn't make a difference. Only he can argue that the Democrats (who were in the minority in the house) forced Bush to invade by authorizing him to do what he saw fit. However, by creating controversy over that incontrovertible point, Rove helps Republicans and he knows it.

update: The man himself provides the appropriate headline analogy

Krugman’s version of his appearance is disputed

I say I’m 6′4″, and thin as a rail. But this version is disputed by Republicans and even some Democrats, who say I’m 5′7″ and could stand to lose a few pounds.

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