Last night on Hannity and Colmes, Karl Rove vigorously defended his role in the White House as the Bush administration’s political guru. “The politics and policy are constantly banging into each other in decisions that are made inside the White House. That’s just the way it is,” he said. When Colmes asked him if that presented a “conflict of interest,” Rove insisted that, under Bush, “policy won out” over politics:
COLMES: Is that a conflict of interest though? The intersection of politics and policy? I know you’ve been criticized in the past of combining the two, as if when one conflicts with the other, maybe the country suffers, and it should be about policy regardless of the politics involved.
ROVE: Well, at least in the White House I was in, policy won out, but you had to be aware of the political fallout of what you were going to do in order to contain it and deal with it. You bet. But to — but first and foremost if — the president I worked for, George W. Bush said, you know what, let’s do right, and the politics will take care of itself. It didn’t mean you were blind to it, but it didn’t mean that you needed to focus first and foremost on what you thought was in the right interest of the country.
Rove personally oversaw the unprecedented politicization of nearly every aspect of Bush’s federal government, from the Justice Department to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Perhaps the clearest examples of the Bush White House’s prioritizing of politics over policy come in the area of climate change and science:
— In 2006, NASA’s chief global warming scientist James Hansen revealed that the White House routinely muzzled him and tried to block his climate change findings. “I find a willingness to listen only to those portions of scientific results that fit predetermined, inflexible positions,” Hansen told CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disasters.”
— In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the congressional testimony of its director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, “was eviscerated” by the White House to prevent her from discussing the disastrous effects of global warming on human health.
— A 2007 report by the House Oversight Committee found 435 instances in which the Bush administration interfered into the global warming work of government scientists over the past five years. It also found that 46 percent of government scientists “personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming,’ or other similar terms from a variety of communications.”
— Hansen recently discovered that the White House edits all government scientists’ testimony: “Do you know that before a government scientist testifies to Congress his/her testimony is typically reviewed and edited by the White House Office of Management and Budget? When I asked for a justification, I was told that a government scientist’s testimony ‘needs to be consistent with the President’s budget’.”
Climate science clearly took a backseat to rational and necessary policy. Similarly, it was Karl Rove who urged Bush to ban embryonic stem cell research — presumably because it was a favorite subject of the party’s evangelical base. Rove falsely claimed that “recent studies” show researchers “have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells,” even though a White House spokesman “could not provide the name of a stem cell researcher who shares Rove’s views on the superior promise of adult stem cells.”