Rove targets Horsford

Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat, votes with the Democrats!

That’s one of the shocking revelations in a late-breaking attack ad against Horsford in the 4th Congressional District, where Republicans are hoping a GOP surge might carry their lackluster nominee, Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, to victory in the Nov. 4 election.

The ad is paid for by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) “dark money” group that’s able to conceal its donors from the public. But Rove’s history shows he’s mostly interested in benefiting his party.

Rove was chairman of the White House Iraq Group, the internal policy shop created to sell the Iraq War to the American public. It was this group that helped devise some of the most outrageous pretenses that led America to invade Iraq.

According to Frank Rich’s invaluable book, “The Greatest Story Ever Sold,” Rove told the Republican National Committee that GOP candidates could use the war on terror as a campaign theme. But as polls showed flagging support for an Iraq invasion, Rove ginned up the rhetoric: “For Rove and Bush to get what they wanted most, slam-dunk midterm election victories … their real whys for going to war had to be replaced by more salable fictional ones,” Rich writes. “We’d go to war instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and al-Qaida and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons.”

All patently, provably untrue. And while Rove-inspired rhetoric about imminent dangers and mushroom clouds dropped from the lips of top U.S. officials, the evidence showed the opposite. According to author Ron Suskind, top Iraqi defectors were telling foreign intelligence services that Iraq had no WMD programs. According to author and former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, the same week Bush was warning of Iraq’s potential to engage in terrorism “on any given day,” his own CIA was telling the then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iraq was not planning such acts, and wouldn’t unless attacked first.

It’s unclear how much Rove really knew, but it’s undeniable that he helped sell an unnecessary war that led to the deaths of more than 4,400 U.S. service members, and thousands upon thousands of Iraqi citizens.

Rove said in his memoir one of his biggest regrets is that he failed to push back against the idea that America went to war on false pretenses. What he should regret is creating those false pretenses in the first place.

For those reasons, and others, Rove is a person to whom no one should ever listen again. But lest I be accused of simply blaming the messenger, let’s review the Crossroads ad.

Horsford votes with Obama nearly 90 percent of the time, it says. Well, Obama doesn’t actually vote. He’s the president, not a member of the House, and he hasn’t been a senator since 2008. But if Crossroads GPS means to say Horsford supports Obama’s preferred agenda nearly 90 percent of the time (it’s 88 percent, according to Congressional Quarterly), we have to ask the obvious: So what? Obama is a Democrat. So is Horsford. The news isn’t that they’re in agreement 88 percent of the time; the news is that they disagreed 12 percent of the time.

Horsford supports the Affordable Care Act, which cuts Medicare, the ad says. This is a claim that the fact-checking website Politifact has dismissed as “half-true” for years. (The Affordable Care Act made cuts to private insurance providers, not Medicare beneficiaries, Politifact said. Of course, the ad shows us a poor old lady, not an insurance company middleman.)

According to the ads, Horsford votes for Obama policies that cost jobs and hurt our economy. Ironically enough, one of the citations for that claim is the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper that endorsed Horsford for re-election after conducting lengthy interviews with him and his Republican opponent. Horsford’s voting record was apparently no bar to the newspaper’s support.

So once more, we see Rove exaggerating and spinning the truth. It should be of some small comfort to Horsford, however, that at least this time, Rove’s fabrications won’t come with a bloody body count.

Steve Sebelius is a Las Vegas Review-Journal political columnist who blogs at SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.

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