Here's why all this matters. A critical part of what's gone wrong these past few years has been the tendency of a war president to bully opponents, distort their meaning, use base emotional appeals when we need far more rational discussion about how to counter a very complex, terrifying Islamist threat. The kind of campaigns Rove ran in 2002, 2004 and 2006 made all this far harder. It reduced important debates about priorities in the war, detention and interrogation policies, the wisdom of long-term enmeshment in the Middle East, the difficulties of securing loose nukes, the excruciatingly difficult calls on which allies to trust and how - into dumb-ass contests about who is the biggest bad-ass, who is a treasonous wimp and which opponent most belongs in a French hair salon.
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