Iraq has always been first and foremost a political issue for the Bush White House. Same for national security. Politics trumps policy every time. In today’s NY Times, we see one more time that Karl Rove is playing a key role in setting the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. Bush doesn’t listen to the military. He listens to Karl Rove. So, one more time, we see that politics matters more than anything:
Last week, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, called in from a brief vacation to join intense discussions in sessions that included Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s longtime strategist, and Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff.
Officials describe the meetings as more of a running discussion than an argument. They say that no one is clinging to a stay-the-course position but that instead aides are trying to game out what might happen if the president becomes more specific about the start and the shape of what the White House is calling a “post-surge redeployment.”
The views of many of the participants in that discussion were unclear, and the officials interviewed could not provide any insight into what Vice President Dick Cheney had been telling President Bush.
They described Mr. Hadley as deeply concerned that the loss of Republicans could accelerate this week, a fear shared by Mr. Rove. But they also said that Mr. Rove had warned that if Mr. Bush went too far in announcing a redeployment, the result could include a further cascade of defections — and the passage of legislation that would force a withdrawal by a specific date, a step Mr. Bush has always said he would oppose.
To the Bush team, the politics and appearances are more important than anything. Now, this strategy has gotten Bush down to a 26% approval rating and has the U.S. trapped in the middle of a civil war. But, Bush and Rove are never wrong. Ever.