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7/11/2005
ROVE SCANDAL: LOTS OF SIZZLE, NOT MUCH STEAK
CATEGORY: Politics

In this relative calm before the storm of media frenzy hits the Rove-Wilson-Plame story, it’s well to remember two things:

1. It’s going to get worse before (if) it gets better for Rove
2. There’s no “there” there

If I were to hazard a guess, Rove will be forced to resign within a month. The reason won’t be due to any pending indictment or arrest, although I’ve seen several lefty blogs writing about one of their wet dreams that involves Rove doing the “perp walk.” It will happen because the coming feeding frenzy by the media will be enormously distracting to the Administration and Rove, like the good soldier he’s proven himself to be over the last 4 1/2 years, will realize it’s time to go.

The only thing that would stand in the way of a Rove resignation is the President himself. And on personnel matters, Bush at times has proven himself his own worst enemy. This is especially true in the national security sphere as he allowed George Tenet, the most spectacularly incompetent DCIA in history, to leave gracefully as well as allowing Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to remain a stone around his neck for far too long.

As for the scandal itself, I’m sorry to disappoint you liberals out there but there really isn’t much to hang your hat on. The legal issues involved are something of a muddle . Here’s a good analysis from the left from Jeralyn Merritt of Talkleft:

I don’t think Karl Rove is looking at a perjury charge or a charge of unlawful disclosure of an undercover agent. I suspect that was made clear to Rove’s lawyer during discussions that took place between Cooper’s lawyer, Rove’s lawyer and Fitzgerald in the 24 hours before Rove let Cooper off the confidentiality hook. Otherwise, Luskin would never have allowed Rove to release Cooper from his confidentiality pledge.

I think if Fitzgerald has a target in sight it is Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis Libby and possibly other members of the White House Iraq Group. Of course, since Rove attended most of the Group’s weekly meetings, he may have some exposure there on a conspiracy charge - or on a false statement or perjury charge if he told investigators or the grand jury something different on an earlier occasion.

For a more strident lefty take, here’s a posting at Daily Kos that tortuously dissects a Walter Pincus article on what Rove knew and when he knew it:

Novak simply said that Plame allegedly “suggested” Wilson for the Niger investigation. That’s it. But it doesn’t say the White House knew that at the time; doesn’t say they found out later; doesn’t say they found out in the week prior to Novak’s column. Nothing. But Pincus’ source has a timeline. What Pincus’ source is saying is not merely relaying Plame’s status according to Novak’s column, but giving the additional information that “the White House had not paid attention to the 2002 trip” because of Plame’s known status at the time.

Why might that be important? Simply because, two days before Novak’s column was published, we have an administration official leaking subtle details of the Plame/Wilson/Niger/CIA connection that even Novak hadn’t written. That’s not consistent with the assertion by administration officials that they only “found out” Plame’s status from Novak’s column. This is someone citing knowledge of Plame’s CIA status inside the White House contemporaneous to the trip itself, and leaking that knowledge to Pincus on the 12th.

While Mr. Merritt’s take has a grasp of the significance of this Newsweek piece on Time reporter Matt Cooper’s source, the Kossak screed dances around the facts to arrive at a totally different conclusion.

What are the facts? Here’s the relevant passage from Michael Isikoff’s investigation:

In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what to make of the flap over Wilson’s criticisms. NEWSWEEK obtained a copy of the e-mail that Cooper sent his bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (The e-mail was authenticated by a source intimately familiar with Time’s editorial handling of the Wilson story, but who has asked not to be identified because of the magazine’s corporate decision not to disclose its contents.) Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a “big warning” not to “get too far out on Wilson.” Rove told Cooper that Wilson’s trip had not been authorized by “DCIA”—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, “it was, KR said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.” Wilson’s wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: “not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there’s still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger … “

The two things to note are that Rove never used Plame’s name (useful legal parsing of language that will drive the moonbats batty) and that Rove was not disclosing classified information. The email, which Cooper could never have imagined in his worst nightmare becoming public knowledge, also cuts the legs from underneath the political scandal that Rove was trying to get revenge on liar Wilson by outing his wife as a CIA agent. It’s clear that Rove was warning Cooper off a story that was wrong, something journalists are usually grateful for because it keeps them from looking as idiotic as Dan Rather did last September.

Given that Joe Wilson has been totally discredited and even the substance of his charges proved wrong, one would have to ask the obvious question: What are we all getting so excited about?

Arianna Huffington fantasizes about conspiracy:

According to the players, the key to whether this story has real legs — and whether it will spell the end of Rove — is determining intent. And a key to that is whether there was a meeting at the White House where Rove and Scooter Libby discussed what to do with the information they had gotten from the State Department about Valerie Plame being Joe Wilson’s wife, and her involvement in his being sent on the Niger/yellowcake mission. If it can be proven that such a meeting occurred, then Rove will be in deep trouble — especially if it is established that Rove made three phone calls leaking the info about Plame and her CIA gig… one to Matt Cooper, one to Walter Pincus, and one to Robert Novak.

Ms. Huffington’s fantasy “meeting” where Rove and Libby plotted to out Plame would make a good movie script but since there isn’t one scintilla of evidence that such a meeting occurred, such a conspiracy will have to remain as another liberal wet dream. Conspiracy to committ a crime would be something both the media and the public could get their minds around, unlike the kind of language parsing and mind reading that would be involved in trying to pin something on Rove as it stands now.

And that’s the nub of the problem for the left and, in the end, for the MSM who will be driving this story. Nixon’s crimes were simple to understand. “Obstruction of justice” fits very nicely as a banner headline on the front page of a newspaper. And the one word scandal that the Clinton impeachment became - sex - was an easy sell for obvious reasons. But where’s the “hook” for this scandal? What does the media have to hang its hat on with a story involving the President’s Chief of Staff warning off reporters from a story from a lying, self-important bureaucrat whose wife was trying to help his career by exaggerating his qualifications for a trip to discern Saddam Hussien’s nuclear intentions?

The churning of the story in the Shadow Media has already started on both the right and left. And one of the things that I’m anxious to discover (from a purely academic point of view) is the power of the new media to affect the coverage given the scandal in the MSM. Since liberal talk radio is non-existent, the only real connection the left has to the larger megaphone of the MSM are mega-blogs like Daily Kos and Talkleft. Smaller lefty blogs have never been able to receive much of a hearing because of the linking policies of the larger lefty blogs which bestow such favors grudgingly, it at all. If the left half of the Shadow Media wants to drive this story, I would suggest a change in that policy. One of the strengths of the righty blogs is our ability to saturate the sphere because of linking policies by blogs both large and small that guarantee the widest possible exposure of opinion and news in an extraordinarily short period of time. And in the 24 hour news cycle of cable news, this has proven to be useful in driving the debate.

Of course, it’s always easier to be on the attack in politics. And given the facts of this case versus the spin, it should be interesting to see where we are a week from now.

UPDATE

And now…from the right:

Powerline covers the legal issues with their usual clarity and thoroughness.

Dafydd ab Hugh guest blogging while the Captain enjoys his DC vacation has an excellent political-legal analysis that’s truly a must read.

Michelle Malkin has a great roundup with plenty of links covering all the angles.

Lorie Byrd skewers media coverage of the scandal to date.

Betsy Newmark offers some interesting opinions and prescient analysis.

And Hugh Hewitt gives the story a little perspective. The military has just recovered the body of the last Navy SEAL missing in Afghanistan:

This incredible sacrifice, coupled with the carnage in London and in Baghdad, provides the backdrop for my comments on the media frenzy surrounding what Karl Rove said or didn’t say to a reporter about the cheeseball’s wife.

Amen to that.

UPDATE II

Tom Maguire has been all over this story for weeks. Read his entire piece to gain some much needed political perspective on the motivations of both sides.

One thing Maguire highlights is the timeline being used by the left to try and prove Rove and Novak may have been in cahoots in outing Plame. Tom’s own timeline is a useful debunking tool as well as proof that Time’s Matt Cooper may in fact be shielding other journalists as his source for the leak.

Basil is having lunch. See what’s on the menu.

By: Rick Moran at 6:27 am
8 Responses to “ROVE SCANDAL: LOTS OF SIZZLE, NOT MUCH STEAK”
  1. 1
    Myopic Zeal Trackbacked With:
    7:42 am 

    Rove Roundup

    I’ve got a lot going on today, so likely won’t get to this this morning, but check out Michelle Malkin’s roundup of the Rove coverage.
    And Right Wing Nuthouse thinks Rove will resign, as a good soldier to avoid further distraction a…

  2. 2
    Joust The Facts Trackbacked With:
    9:35 am 

    Furtive Glances

    A quick and refreshing look around. Will Franklin, blogging at Wizbang, notes the violent actions of anarchist protestors in San Francisco, and the lefty media willing to understand it. The Valerie Plame kerfuffle is more closely tied to Karl Rove.

  3. 3
    AJStrata Said:
    10:08 am 

    I think you are way too pessimistic.

    Plame and Wilson are the ones who will be in trouble.

    http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/258

    Powerline had a note that Andrea Mitchell admitted on MSNBC that Plame’s CIA job was not a secret in elite DC circles for sometime. QED there is nothing to hang on Rove - period.

    Think about it. The prosecutor would have figured this out a long time ago….

    So why continue on? Well, the only thing still standing is Plame’s direction to send her husband out to and come back with bogus misinformation on national security issues…

  4. 4
    Rick Moran Said:
    12:13 pm 

    AJ:

    In all political scandals, the truth never matters it’s perception that counts. How else could Clinton have gotten away with perjury and obstruction? Everyone perceived the scandal was about sex.

    Here, the perception will be revenge by Rove for Wilson’s treachery. It really won’t matter what the truth is because that’s the way the media will spin it. Rove’s survival will depend on how long the feeding frenzy lasts. If it blows over in a week, he’s safe. But if the drip, drip, drip of information keeps coming out - as is usually the case in these scandals - then Rove will be gone in a month - providing Bush lets him go.

  5. 5
    THIRDWAVEDAVE Trackbacked With:
    5:05 pm 

    BLOOD IN THE WATER

    If Rove is guilty, the dems, and more importantly the MSM, will feed on his carcass for weeks on end.

  6. 6
    Ed Foley Said:
    7:55 pm 

    That sizzle is starting to look like something burned to a crisp. I think it’s time you got beyond wondering if Rove is gibbet bait or not and started asking who it is he is taking the drop for.

  7. 7
    NIF Trackbacked With:
    8:28 pm 

    I survived NC

    Today’s dose of NIF - News, Interesting & Funny … first day back to work!, and I passed the CISSP exam!

  8. 8
    Right Wing Nut House » “GANNONING” THE ROVE STORY: Politics served up with a smile… And a stilletto. Pinged With:
    4:56 pm 

    [...] E STORYHOMAGE DUE OUR SECRET WARRIORSCARNIVAL OF THE CLUELESS #5THE TIMES GOES FOR THE GOLD [...]

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