Thursday, June 23, 2005

DESPERATE TIMES, MEASURES With the President's approval numbers drifting down into the low-40s in some recent polls, the White House has decided to switch gears.

Remember the 2004 campaign? Bush's message was essentially:

War on terror. Iraq. War on terror. Iraq. War on Terror. War on terror. Iraq. War on Terror. Social Security Reform. War on Terror.
But right after the election, the message changed abruptly to:
Social Security Reform. Social Security Reform. Social Security Reform. Social Security Reform. Iraq. Social Security Reform. Social Security Reform.
And that's been the message ever since. At least until this week. We pick up the action in the middle of today's White House briefing:
Q [Karl Rove] said the Democrats wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. That's not injecting politics into the tragedy of September 11th?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's talking about the different philosophies for winning the war on terrorism. The President recognizes that the way to win the war on terrorism is to take the fight to the enemy, to stay on the offensive, and to work to spread freedom and democracy to defend the ideology of hatred that they espouse, and the ideology of tyranny and oppression.

Q So will the President ask Karl Rove to apologize?

MR. McCLELLAN: Of course not, Jessica. This is simply talking about different philosophies and different approaches. And I think you have to look at it in that context. If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that's their business. But it's important to point out the different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And that's all he was doing.

Q So you're suggesting that Rove's approach to discussing the philosophy that Democrats -- is to say that they want to prepare indictments and seek counseling. That's their philosophy, is that what you were saying?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the comments were saying -- the conservative approach and the liberal approach is what he was talking about.

Q He was saying that that's the comparison in their philosophies?

MR. McCLELLAN: He was speaking to a political organization. There are many who have looked at the war on terrorism and said it is a law enforcement matter, that we should prosecute people. The President recognizes that it is a war and that we must stay on the offensive, we must take the fight to the enemy. The best way to defeat the enemy is to fight them abroad and bring them to justice before they can carry out their attacks here at home.

Q And the therapy? What about the therapy?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's what he's -- and I think that's what he's talking about.
A reminder: the Democratic National Committee is still open for business. And it's still accepting donations.

UPDATE: John Aravosis has more.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.