White House aides have conducted at least half a dozen political briefings for the Bush administration's top diplomats, including a PowerPoint presentation for ambassadors with senior adviser Karl Rove that named Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008 and a "general political briefing" at the Peace Corps headquarters after the 2002 midterm elections.
The briefings, mostly run by Rove's deputies at the White House political affairs office, began in early 2001 and included detailed analyses for senior officials of the political landscape surrounding critical congressional and gubernatorial races, according to documents obtained by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The documents show for the first time how the White House sought to ensure that even its appointees involved in foreign policy were kept attuned to the administration's election goals. Such briefings occurred semi-regularly over the past six years for staffers dealing with domestic policy, White House officials have previously acknowledged.
If you're wondering how diplomats are supposed to benefit from an official political briefing, welcome to the club. Especially a briefing from a White House as out of touch as this:
According to a department letter to the Senate panel, Rove explained the White House views on the electoral disaster while Sara M. Taylor, then the director of White House political affairs, showed a PowerPoint presentation that pinned most of the electoral blame on "corrupt" GOP lawmakers and "complacent incumbents." One chart in Taylor's presentation highlighted the GOP's top 36 targets among House Democrats for the 2008 election.
I'm sure more than a few diplomats were winking at each other after they heard that. The real reason Republicans fared so badly in the 2006 elections is partly because the White House has stooped to politicizing everything, from the war on down, and these briefings are emblematic of that approach. Karl Rove and President Bush have never quite seemed to grasp that if you screw up big enough and long enough, the people will vote for someone else no matter how clever your marketing approach is.