More to the point, Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.
It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country.
In short, Karl Rove is saying that liberals took an intellectual approach, seeking to understand why America was attacked on 9/11. Conservatives were “manly men” who went off and attacked. As Kristen Breitweiser points out here however, it's not like Republicans have succeeded in their war. It appeared for a short time in early 2003 that they did, but by summertime it was clear to less enthusiastic Americans that the war was far from over. People have pointed out that if 9/11 can be compared to Pearl Harbor and if late 2001 can be compared to late 1941, mid-2005 doesn't seem to bear any relation to mid-1945. By mid-1945, the Allies had already begun standing down and demobilizing from World War II. Staff members had long since begun planning for how to bring our victorious soldiers back home. In sharp contrast, America is still stumbling through a very long, dark tunnel in mid-2005 with no light visibile.
By going on the attack and seeking to blame liberals for their loss, Rove is making it clear that conservatives are completely lost and have no clue as to what to do next.