Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Rove Watch

AMERICAblog does a great wrap-up of Joe Wilson’s appearance on the Today show this morning and gets right to the heart of the matter.

…when Joe Wilson came forward, the Bush Administration didn’t just attack and smear him. They went after his wife as well. And they didn’t just smear her; they risked national security to out a covert CIA agent. As everyone working in government knows, the simple fact that someone works at the CIA is classified information. People don’t reveal that lightly to anyone and when they do, you don’t tell your family and you don’t tell your friends. And frankly, a child knows that you don’t reveal the identity of a spy. But Karl Rove did anyway.

Why? Because it’s all about Iraq. The White House had two “smoking guns” in convincing the American people to go to war. The [aluminum] tubes and the claim that Hussein was actively trying to buy radioactive material. Both were lies. The Bush administration didn’t “get it wrong,” they knew what they were saying wasn’t supported by the facts and they said it anyway.

One thing I will give great credit to the Republicans for is that they are masters at misdirection. Catch them in a tough spot and they turn it around on a dime and fire back with bloviation and irrelevancies, or take the Gollum tactic and play the victim: “Nasty mean Democrats hates us, preciousss!” So the attack on Mr. Wilson by the RNC and their faithful minions is to be expected. After all, they need to explain things to those of us in the reality-based community.

Two years ago, the White House told the American public that “the president knows” that Rove wasn’t involved with the Plame leak and that he would fire anyone who was. Now we know that Rove was involved and that Bush hasn’t fired him yet. That’s the reality unless the Republicans can create a new one, which explains just a little about why they’re trying so hard to do so.

It explains why you’re hearing claims that Rove didn’t really leak anything because he didn’t use Plame’s name, despite the fact that Rove’s lawyer acknowledges that that’s a difference without a distinction.

It explains why you’re hearing claims that Plame was just some kind of glorified secretary at the CIA at the same time that the Republicans are arguing that she had the authority to send Wilson off to Niger to investigate claims about uranium and Iraq.

It explains why you’re hearing that Plame wasn’t really undercover — she drove her car to Langley! — when the CIA, as an agency official once acknowledged, would never have referred the case to the Justice Department if she weren’t.

It explains why you’re hearing claims that this whole thing is a “tempest in a teapot” and a “partisan attack” despite the fact that a federal prosecutor appointed by George W. Bush and a slew of federal judges apparently consider the leak of Plame’s identity important enough to warrant the jailing of a reporter.

And it explains why you’re hearing that the Plame case doesn’t really involve a leak at all. “A leak is when you ask a reporter to write a story,” Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in Iowa yesterday. Rove wasn’t doing that, Mehlman says: “He was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story.”

A false story? Yeah, Mehlman and his colleagues know something about that. And if Bush is to survive the Rove scandal without further damage to his reputation, they’d better hope that they can sell the ones they’re peddling now. []

One thing we can be assured of: Karl Rove will not resign and President Bush will not fire him. In Mr. Rove’s mind he did nothing wrong, and President Bush is loyal to his friends to a fault. The Democrats calling for him to get rid of Rove will just harden his resolve. That’s fine. Having Karl Rove around for the 2006 elections will make him a nice big fat piñata for the Democrats; if you thought Newt Gingrich was fun to beat up on in 1996, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. In fact, I think President Bush should promote Karl Rove to be the head of the CIA.