- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

Republicans rallied around Karl Rove yesterday with White House officials defending President Bush’s senior political adviser and congressional Republicans saying he was right when he said liberals wanted to respond to the September 11 attacks with “therapy and understanding.”

“That’s not slander, that’s the truth,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, told the College Republican National Committee’s biennial convention in Arlington yesterday.

Mr. Rove, speaking to the New York State Conservative Party on Wednesday, said: “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”

The Republicans’ reaction stands in stark contrast to how Democrats reacted when Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, last week compared U.S. interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet and Nazi regimes.

Democrats defended Mr. Durbin by saying Republicans’ anger was an attempt at diversion from other issues. But no prominent Democrat defended Mr. Durbin’s remarks as accurate, and some went out of their way not to comment.

Both House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, said they were not familiar with Mr. Durbin’s remarks. Even after they were read to her, Mrs. Clinton refused to comment. In contrast, Republicans have rushed to Mr. Rove’s defense.

“Karl Rove is right,” announced the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the chief campaign arm of Senate Republicans, in a fundraising e-mail message yesterday. Republicans also wondered why Democrats were upset, pointing to Mr. Rove’s use of the word “liberal,” not “Democrat.”

“Karl was just pointing out statements that were made by the likes of Michael Moore and MoveOn.org, and I find it kind of puzzling they feel they need to come and rally behind this liberal organization,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to Mr. Bush, speaking to Fox News Channel yesterday. “He wasn’t pointing out Democrat Clinton or Democrat Schumer or the other folks that have come out with such outrage.”

But Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, said as a liberal he did not think Mr. Rove’s description of being weak on terrorism fit him.

In remarks he released to the press yesterday and plans to deliver on the House floor on Monday, Mr. Frank said he and other liberals voted for the war in Afghanistan as a response to September 11. He also pointed to his support of a version of the Patriot Act to enhance law-enforcement powers and of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

Democrats continued their call yesterday for Mr. Bush to fire Mr. Rove, with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee turning its call into a fundraising pitch.

After accusing Mr. Rove of “abusing the memory of 9/11 in order to score cheap political points,” Anne H. Lewis, an official at the DSCC, urged supporters to contribute to the organization to help stop Mr. Rove.

“The DSCC is committed to beating all of Karl Rove’s hand-picked Senate candidates in 2006. Help us smash through our second-quarter fundraising goal by making a contribution today,” she wrote to them.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and his party’s 2004 presidential nominee, sent an e-mail to his supporters calling on them to attach their names to a petition urging Mr. Bush to fire Mr. Rove, and several letters circulated among Democrats calling for Mr. Bush to apologize on Mr. Rove’s behalf.

Meanwhile, MoveOn.org, which White House officials said was a main target of Mr. Rove’s broadside, fought back yesterday, saying the administration is mischaracterizing its position by saying MoveOn called for “restraint” after September 11.

“The organization never opposed the attack on Afghanistan post 9-11,” said MoveOn PAC Executive Director Eli Pariser in a statement. “In urging a multipronged approach to fighting terrorism, the organization has always supported measured military action as part of the mix.”

Mr. Pariser said Republicans were trying to draw attention away from a “failed war in Iraq.” He said MoveOn will run ads next week to coincide with Mr. Bush’s planned prime-time speech on Iraq.

Joseph Curl contributed to this story.

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