Memo from Karl Rove to David Reinhard
"First, I want to thank you again for helping us market this war to the American people. Without you and an army of other smalltime columnists we never could have sold this. Having said that, you can always do a better job, so let’s look at Sunday’s column with a critical eye to future spin.
As you know, our current message is that there is no civil war in Iraq. You perform admirably, citing several sources, but you use the phrase “he was recently there”, and “he was there, too.” Our polling shows we should avoid that point. It reminds too many Americans that most senior officials in this administration never served in the military. While it’s one thing to send other parents’ offspring to die, we don’t want them remembering our people have never been there, as far as war goes. The closest Cheney’s been to combat is bird-hunting, and look how that turned out.
In addition, you’re establishing credibility for the people like Allawi who say there is a civil war. He’s been there, too. Or the generals who told Hagel there was a civil war; some of them were there, too. See, how the phrase leads to trouble?
Okay, listen up here because this is important. We no longer want to talk about how Saddam tortured his people. It reminds too many people of our torture. If anything, we want to market torture as an acceptable behavior so if you must go there, make sure you point out the difference between good Christian torture, and bad Muslim torture.
In fact, don’t try any of your paragraphs about what Saddam was like, without mentioning him by name. Our polls show 3 out of 10 Americans thought you were talking about President Bush. Saddam invaded Kuwait, we invaded Iraq. We can sell the self-defense spin all we want, but let’s not go into details. Stick to the message.
I don’t want to discourage you. I know a bunch of conservatives are bailing out on the President; you don’t have to remind everyone. You even mention “occasional doubt” yourself. That is completely unacceptable. Our side has resolve. We don’t make mistakes. We don’t want you wondering if you helped get a bunch of young Americans hurt and killed, by participating in our ill-fated, marketing campaign. That would make you miserable and Republicans are happy people - we are resolved. We don’t do doubt.
I like the way you picked up the talking points about looking back at this thing in history and judging it then. We want to emphasize that it may take a long, long time before this looks good. Remember, it’s not a disaster, it’s just the early decades of a brilliant move. Then we can pull a McNamara later and admit it was an unbelievable screw-up, when it can’t hurt us as much.
Finally, I want to leave you with a compliment. Those parts about how critics of the war “delight” in bad news - that when Americans read about soldiers being paralyzed or killed they enjoy it - that’s exactly the level of vicious I’m looking for. I love it. Our talking point that any criticism is just blind hatred of Bush, is wearing thin. We have to deflect attention from this thing, and turn it on our critics. Saying they delight in the bad news, is very effective. Congratulations, it reminds me of something I’d do, and you know what a lowlife, I can be. Maybe you can work in a line about how happy Cindy Sheehan was that her son got killed, so she could delight in all this attention. Good job, David. Keep it up. ---Karl Rove.”
THE IRAQ WAR