Thursday, July 14, 2005
Spinning the SpinBy now, you've probably noticed the media swarm over Karl Rove and his involvement in the CIA leak case, and you've probably noticed the Republican response to said media swarm. From the White House, nothing. They're stonewalling, waiting for this story to go away, and given the ADHD-challenged news media, it probably will unless there are some new developments soon. After all, there's still a pretty, blond woman missing in Aruba, and Tom Cruise is still having his midlife crisis and there are serial killers, child molesters and shark attacks to cover. Meanwhile, an army of operatives and surrogates are out there on every news show trying their best to chip away at the story. It's been humorous, exasperating, and even infuriating at times to see the lengths they'll go to to take the heat off the man the president affectionately calls "Turd Blossom." It's been quite the spectacle.
The talking points go something like this: Karl Rove didn't do anything wrong. He didn't mention her name. He just said Joe Wilson's wife; he might have been talking about some other Mrs. Wilson. She wasn't covert. Karl was just trying to keep poor Matt Cooper from getting the story wrong. Joseph Wilson's story was wrong. Joseph Wilson voted for John Kerry so he's a Democratic stooge. His wife did send him on the trip so she's fair game. Etc., etc., etc. They've got a big list of talking points and they're hitting them all. Hell, Karl Rove probably typed the list of talking points up and sent the surrogate army out himself.
The funniest surrogate (actually a surrogate disguised as a reporter) is Faux News's John Gibson, who's "My Story" went something like this: Karl Rove didn't do anything wrong. He didn't leak her name, but if he did, he deserves a medal because she should have been outed by somebody. But he doesn't deserve a medal because he didn't leak her name.
The most infuriating surrogate (there were more than a few candidates) is RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. On Tuesday, on Wolf Blitzer's show on CNN, Mehlman hit ALL the talking points. If this man were paid by the lie, he'd never have to work again. This was the first question and answer...
BLITZER: Now you were the political director at the White House. You worked very closely with Karl Rove at the time of this leak. What did you know about Karl Rove's conversations with Matt Cooper of "TIME" magazine?
A few things about this brief exchange: First, notice that poor, poor Karl didn't do anything wrong. He's just the victim of an ugly political smear campaign, a victim of Kerry, Clinton, Dean, the angry left, and MoveOn.org. Second, Karl has already been outed as one of the leakers. Third, describing Karl Rove as "a good public servant" and someone with "the highest ethical standards" is such a blatant lie I'm surprised Mehlman's pants didn't spontaneously burst into flames. Rove, a protege of Watergate conspirator Donald Segretti and the man who introduced George H. W. Bush to Lee Atwater (you old timers remember them, don't you?), got his start in politics at the tender age of nineteen when he showed up at the campaign headquarters of Illinois Democrat Alan Dixon, stole a letterhead, printed up a bunch of flyers promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing," and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters. Much later, he admitted to this prank and justified it by saying, "I was nineteen and I got involved in a political prank, but I'm not sorry. The ends justify the means, and I mean for Republicans to push Democrats off the face of the earth." Whenever there has been any sort of dirty trick involving the Bush family, Karl Rove has always been the prime suspect, but he's always managed to escape prosecution and the ass kicking he so richly deserves. Here's just a few of the dirty tricks he's allegedly been involved in in his illustrious career as "a good public servant"...
In 1986, during the Texas gubernatorial campaign, Rove claimed that Democrats bugged his office phone. It was later alleged that Rove bugged his own phone for the resulting media coverage. An investigation failed to uncover exactly how Rove's phone got bugged. No charges were ever filed.
In 1992, George H. W. Bush fired Karl Rove from his campaign staff for...are you sitting down?...leaking information to Robert Novak.
In 2000, after George W. Bush lost the New Hampshire primary to John McCain and was trailing badly in South Carolina, a push poll and whisper campaign mysteriously started that implied that McCain was the father of an illegitimate black child. Bush went on to win the South Carolina primary, the Republican nomination, and the presidency.
The presidency in 2000 all hinged on Florida. Rove worked hard to make sure Florida's electoral votes went into Bush's column. His best trick here was bussing in Republican operatives from Washington D.C. They played the part of an angry mob, storming election offices and intimidating officials who were trying to conduct the recount.
Anyway, back to Mehlman and Blitzer...Like I said, he hit ALL the talking points and even came up with some new ones...
Here's my favorite part of the whole Mehlman/Blitzer exchange...
BLITZER: Well, what if the shoe were on the other foot. What if the president in this particular case were Bill Clinton and the Republicans were in the opposite. Wouldn't you be doing exactly what the Democrats are now doing?
And if you believe that, you obviously weren't following politics in the 90s.
This whole imbroglio started when Bush uttered the sixteen famous words in the State of the Union that suggested that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium in the form of yellowcake in Niger. Joe Wilson, who had been to Africa and determined that the claim was false, was flabbergasted that Bush would bring it up again and wrote a scathing New York Times editorial debunking the claim. This was the period in which, according to the Downing Street Memo, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." This was all a part of the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq. Joe Wilson was ultimately right. There was no uranium from Niger, there was no Iraqi nuclear program, there were no WMDs. Rove and the other "senior administration figures" were not just trying to be helpful and steer those poor, misguided reporters away from a bogus story. This was a dirty trick that was right up Karl Rove's alley. They were trying to discredit and cause harm to someone who had dared to question some of their "fixed" "intelligence and facts." In September of 2003, the Washington Post talked to, yes, another senior administration figure...
Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.
This political firestorm will probably die down in another couple of days unless we get some new developments, but don't look for the story to completely go away anytime soon. First, we'll have to wait and see what the special prosecutor is going to do. That might not take long. The word is that Fitzpatrick's last witnesses were going to be Matt Cooper and Judy Miller. Cooper has now testified. Fitzpatrick may drag this out a while to see if Miller can be coerced into testifying or he may just go ahead and bring the investigation to a close. That's when the real fun begins. Will there be indictments and trials? Will there be a real political firestorm? Will we see Rove do the frog march? Do we dare dream? Do we dare dream bigger dreams? That Fitzpatrick will uncover a conspiracy and take down a goodly portion of the Bush administration? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you'd like to weigh in with your two cents, several sites have "Fire Karl Rove" petitions, including JohnKerry.com, WorkingforChange, and, yes, MoveOn Pac.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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