August 2005

Crafty Karl Rove does nothing by accident

By Katharhynn Heidelberg

This just in: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove does not suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, terminal or otherwise. Nor does he suffer from bad judgment; on the contrary, his judgment is sharp as a Damascene sword.

His June statements that stopped just short of calling Democrats and “liberals” traitors – and more recently, the did-he-didn’t-he debate concerning the leaked name of a CIA operative – show that quite well. What’s questionable is much of America’s credulity when it comes to the administration that shields Uber Spinmeister Rove.

“Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”

Rove’s utterance, at a fundraiser for the Conservative Party of New York State, has been heard ’round the world. At the very least, using the blood of 9/11 victims to lubricate one’s propaganda machine is outrageous, but there’s something more shocking. The truth.

The truth is, Rove’s statements were no accident, but a deliberate attempt to provoke outrage. The truth is, the Bush regime shields Rove because, although its puppet king is roundly ridiculed for lack of intelligence, it is yet capable of knowing a good thing when it sees it. A Machiavellian propagandist of Rove’s ilk is a good thing for an administration that values its secrecy.

Just consider the direction in which White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried to steer questions.

“. . .Karl was simply pointing out the different philosophies and different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism,” McClellan said at a briefing following Rove’s remarks.

No he wasn’t, Mr. McClellan. He was bashing the opposition and clambering over graves to do it. This isn’t about the “context” of the remarks; it is about the remarks themselves. The remarks are divisive.

Not only did you deny this like the good little shill you are, you in the same breath added fuel to the fire with that jab at the opposition. Nice one. Guess with Jeff Gannon — or whoever that King of Softball and Deliberately Convenient Questions really was — gone, you have to obfuscate on your own, huh?

Rove is a careful man, a canny man. The man who talks to Time reporter Matthew Cooper, making reference to a CIA operative whose identity was revealed by columnist Robert Novak as Valerie Plame (the wife of a Bush critic), then clams up when Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller are dropped in the soup, then at last admits to speaking to Cooper, is hardly a man who fears negative publicity. Rove says nothing without thinking first.

Consider his defense: Rove said he’d spoken to Cooper to clarify that the CIA director hadn’t authorized a trip that Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, had undertaken to find out whether Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. Rove had “never knowingly disclosed classified information.”

Rove, the White House said, was just trying to save reporters from writing an inaccurate story. Oh, Karl! You softie! What a pleasant change your actions are from 2002, when the White House cited a nonexistent report from the U.N.

International Atomic Energy Agency, that said Iraq was but months from developing “nukuleer” weapons; then fed this and other huuuge lies to the media. Journalists — ironically including Madame First Amendment herself, Judy Miller — then spun these into golden stories to justify the Iraq War. It’s nice to see that this time around, you’re protecting reporters from spreading falsehoods. Tell me, is this penance for all the other lies you’ve helped perpetuate? Because the cynic in me tends to think the only “steering away” of reporters that you do is when their articles could potentially harm L’il Pinocchio Bush.

But this is precisely why Rove’s actions are not indicative of insanity, or even (exclusively) of hubris. Rather, they serve Rove’s ultimate goal – protecting the administration.

For his purposes, not even the truth concerning the Plame scandal matters much to Rove. What matters is the diversion of attention away from the White House, where, after all, someone leaked Plame’s name. What Washington is doing — from excusing Rove’s 9/11 rhetoric to keeping mum about Plame — calls to mind some twisted, high-stakes game of “watch the birdie.” Watch Rove; ignore the Bush administration, which lied us into a war.

Which lied our dedicated servicemen and women into early graves. Which, through successful spin-and-deny strategies, caused a number of Americans to believe the war on terror and the war in Iraq were one and the same. Which silences or retaliates against dissenters and calls it “patriotism.” Which feeds journalists propaganda, then accuses the “liberal” media of not telling the truth.

Yes, says the White House, watch the birdie, flitting from topic to topic and running his brilliant, dangerous mouth. Yell to have his security clearance yanked; clamor for prosecution — while you’re doing that, you won’t be questioning us.

That’s the White House’s hope, and it should define our reaction to Karl Rove’s next dumping of bilious, partisan rhetoric. Let’s give him the merit he deserves — none — and to the powers that let him be, let’s pay very close attention. And, concerning the July controversy, let’s see that there will not be a “next time” for anyone concerned. We could do that by ignoring the lackey and minding the master. That would cancel out Rove’s usefulness to this callow administration.

Katharhynn Heidelberg writes from Montrose.