Freed from the threat of indictment, President Bush’s political swami, Karl Rove, was on the road and on the attack again.
The advisor Bush calls “The Architect” for his role in Republican political victories was in New Hampshire the other night, bucking up GOP officials still reeling from their local party’s role in a phone-jamming scandal.
After months when nothing seemed to go right, the White House has had a run of good news — Rove live, al-Zarqawi dead and a government in Iraq functional enough for the president to pay a visit — and it was refreshing to see the Bush camp able to stand up and punch back for a change.
And punch back Rove did, indicating that the campaign tactics and rhetoric this fall will not be for the faint-hearted or fastidious.
He all but accused Democratic critics of the war like Sen. John Kerry and Rep John Murtha of cowardice, “cutting and running.”
Said Rove, according to The Washington Post, “They may be with you for the first shots. But they’re not going . . . to be with you for the tough battles.” That’s fine. It’s fair test of a party’s and a candidate’s mettle how they respond to unfair attacks, a test Kerry conspicuously failed in 2004. Seeking to sharpen his party’s differences with the Democrats, Rove said, “They’re for higher taxes. We’re for lower taxes. They’re for more spending. We’re for less spending.”
Stop right there, Mr. Architect man. That’s way too ridiculous assertion for us innocent bystanders. Lower taxes? OK. But less spending? Oh, please. Give us a break. Bush is the biggest spender of any president in almost 40 years, the most open-handed president since Lyndon Johnson. Bush shepherded into law the largest, most expensive entitlement program — prescription drugs — since the Great Society. Federal spending has grown twice as fast under Bush as Clinton.
Federal spending went up by a third in his first term and by the time this year is out it will have gone up a total of 45 percent, according to the Bush-friendly Heritage Foundation. Bush has been aided and abetted by the Republican Congress, which the episodically Bush-friendly Cato Institute says, “enthusiastically assisted the budget bloat.”
It noted that spending on the 101 largest programs Republicans pledged to eliminate when they took over Congress in 1995 have increased 27 percent.
When Bush this year proposed a modest $65 billion cut in growth of entitlements, the Republicans ignored him, assuming he wasn’t serious.
After all, Bush has never vetoed a spending bill or any other bill for that matter. The Architect needs to go back to the drawing board on the spending claim.