Monday, August 29, 2005

Boston Globe Takes On Karl Rove

A nice editorial from The Boston Globe on Karl Rove:

Rove's role

August 28, 2005

SOME WHITE House sympathizers have attempted to portray Karl Rove's role in the Valerie Plame scandal as that of a statesman, seeking to provide President Bush with the best information possible on Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions so that Bush could set policy based on facts. This has been met with deserved skepticism. Rove's career, even before he became Bush's deputy chief of staff, is rich with reasons to think his motives in helping to identify Plame as a CIA agent were far darker.

After all, Plame's identity was revealed in a Robert Novak column on July 14, 2003, just eight days after her husband, Joseph Wilson, had embarrassed Bush over his Iraq war rationale. And Rove had talked with Novak on July 9.

As John Roberts, the Supreme Court nominee and federal appeals court judge, wrote last month in another context, the fact that ''sometimes dogs do eat homework" is no reason to ignore more-logical explanations.

Rove's record has been consistent. Over 35 years, he has been a master of dirty tricks, divisiveness, innuendo, manipulation, character assassination, and roiling partisanship.

He started early. In 1970, when he was 19 and active as a college Republican -- though he didn't graduate from college -- Rove pretended to volunteer for a Democratic candidate in Illinois, stole some campaign stationery, and used it to disrupt a campaign event. Later, in Texas, he gave testimony in court that was embarrassing to an opponent of one of Rove's clients, even though it was not true, according to the book ''Bush's Brain," by two veteran Texas newsmen, James Moore and Wayne Slater.

Negative attacks have often been the center of Rove's strategies. In a race between Texas Governor Mark White and his Republican opponent, Bill Clements, Rove wrote in a memo: ''Anti-White messages are more important than positive Clements messages."

Often Rove has skated on the edge of being identified with certainty as the author of dirty tricks. In 1986, the discovery of a planted listening device in Rove's own office was widely publicized, damaging the Democrats. Many suspect that the source was Rove himself. This was never proven, but Moore and Slater say, ''Karl Rove remains a prime suspect." In 1989, Texas populist Jim Hightower was damaged by grand jury leaks for which, Moore and Slater say, ''Rove remains the most likely source."

Again, most of the personal slurs against candidates who had the temerity to run against Rove's clients have not been pinned on Rove personally, but they follow a pattern. George W. Bush ousted Ann Richards from the Texas governor's office in 1994 after a whisper campaign focused on a small number of Richards appointees who were lesbians and even suggested that Richards was gay. Bush himself stoked the fire, saying some Richards appointees ''had agendas that may have been personal in nature."

In 1990, Hightower's integrity was smeared. A federal investigation of his expenses produced news stories, but no charge, despite Rove's telling Washington reporters that Hightower and several aides ''face the possibility of indictment."

In South Carolina in 2000, rumors circulated that John McCain was gay, had a black child, had a Vietnamese child, and got special treatment while a POW in Vietnam. In 2004, a direct link was established between the Bush campaign -- of which Rove was ''the architect," in Bush's words -- and the libels against John Kerry from the swift boat veterans. With such a history, is it possible that Rove encouraged the Catholic bishops who questioned Kerry's fitness to take Communion?

Earlier this year, he none-too-subtly bestrode the church-state amalgam that helped elect Bush, telling a sympathetic and enthusiastic audience in Washington that conservatism is ''the dominant political creed in America." Always on the attack, Rove said just this June that liberals want to ''prepare indictments and offer therapy" to terrorists.

According to Moore and Slater, the strategy of attack has been constant throughout his career. ''Rove didn't just want to win; he wanted the opponents destroyed."

Rove's connection to the Valerie Plame story was the center of attention in mid-July but cooled fast after Bush nominated Roberts to the Supreme Court on July 19. A LexisNexis search reveals 1,944 stories mentioning Rove in the week prior to the nomination, dropping to 1,111 during the week after. Now, with Bush in Crawford for a prolonged vacation, the story has nearly disappeared -- only 169 references in a late-August week.

Still, more is likely to come out after Labor Day. A special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, is expected to finish his two-year investigation this fall. His goal was to find the person who leaked Plame's identity as an undercover CIA agent -- a serious offense in the view of Bush's father. He and many other commentators have deplored the idea that the leaker may have been seeking political retribution at the expense of national security.

So attention will inevitably turn back again to Karl Rove, who did talk with Novak and other reporters who wrote the story but who is now being portrayed by some as a neutral researcher in the Valerie Plame case. Yes, and sometimes dogs do eat homework.

Repeat it with me: Frog-march!!! Frog-march!!! Frog-march!!!

Fun, isn't it?

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