Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Last night's Daily Show a must-see, the political segment was entirely devoted to Rove-leak-related hilarity. They culled all of the clips that everyone should be seeing-- McClellan and Bush declaring their unwavering love of Rove, their belief in his innocence, and that the person who leaked Plame's CIA identity should be fired. They also poked fun at Cooper's email which indicates that Rove was the source of the leak.
"Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation ..." Cooper proceeded to spell out some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another reporter check with the CIA.
"Double super secret"? That's pure comedy.

Stewart then emphasized a particular evolving defense pattern-- seemingly inspired by Clinton's legalese "the meaning of the word "it"" semantics game. Rove and others seem to be carving out a defense with the repeated use of a very carefully worded phrase.
Rove had previously insisted that he had never disclosed Valerie Plame's ''name." Now his lawyer admits that Rove, in trying to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson, told Cooper that Wilson's ''wife" was a CIA agent but didn't mention her by name.

So Rove is playing word games. What he said was literally true -- but a lie, since a reporter given this tip could easily identify Wilson's wife. Whether or not he used her name, Rove was deliberately outing Plame. If he played the same word games before the grand jury, he's in trouble.
Additionally, instead of just defending Rove, item one from the GOP's new published talking points is to discredit anyone who points out that Rove has been openly fingered for the leak, to shift the blame onto the Democrats. That's because they know this is much bigger story than just Rove, that if Rove he goes down they will lose their chance at damage control. Especially if there are any more stories like this one-- Rove has been working for the Bush family for 25 years but was (ahem) fired from the the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980. Why? For allegedly leaking a story to Bob "Douchebag of Liberty" Novak.* I kid you not. Not only does this establish an old connection between the Douchebag of Liberty and the Turdblossom, it hints that this could be familiar terrain for the both of them.

I think the true essense of the problem that this story poses to Bush is that to his supporters his judgement and character are his strongest assests. Bush might not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's a straight shooter with good judgement and solid integrity, right? Rove's leak goes right to the heart of Bush's credibility and good judgement, making him appear somewhat foolish for trusting Rove for so many years. It also casts some doubt about Bush's innocence in all this-- did he know? how long has he known? has he always known? Knowing that Bush values loyalty above all else, if this story carries on he's going to be between one large mother of a rock and a very hard place-- defend Rove or dump him?

The timing for this story to break couldn't be worse for the Bush Administration-- just as we're supposed to be relying on Bush's good judgement and judge of character for a trustworthy Supreme Court justice nominee? It almost feels like the manuscript for a political thriller.

* Jon Stewart used this phrase last night, similiar to Tom DeLay = "World's Biggest Asshole." Personally I think Bob Novak should be known as the "Douchebag of Liberty." Doesn't it just roll smoothly off the keyboard?

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