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Karl Rove Names Names

PUBLISHED: December 8, 2008

In true, Joe McCarthy style Karl Rove has announced his intention to “name names” of those who opposed and thwarted the Bush administration. (Really? This administration had opposition?) CNN quotes him as saying:

You’ll notice there was outrage when it was thought that I was the person behind outing Valerie Plame. And then when it came out that it was the sainted [Deputy Secretary of State] Richard Armitage, there was no interest. I don’t remember seeing anybody camped out on his doorstep like they were camped out on mine. [It’s] because he was part of the acceptable culture of Washington, and I was not. I was one of those Texans who came up. He was one of those perpetual I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine Washington leakers.

Wow, where to begin?

First, I suppose, it’s worth noting that Karl Rove was behind outing Valerie Plame. Armitage, too? Yes, he revealed Plame to Robert Novak. No question. But that doesn’t change the fact that Rove outed Plame to Matthew Cooper at Time and confirmed for Novak. An internal Time memo from Cooper to his bureau chief Michael Duffy reads, “it was, KR said, Wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD issues who authorized the trip.” And Novak (under oath) recalled speaking to Rove about Plame before writing his column outing her. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald never said he believed Rove’s innocence, only that Scooter Libby’s lies had thrown so much “sand in the umpire’s face” that it was impossible to prove guilt.

Second, one has to wonder at Karl Rove’s idea of “the acceptable culture of Washington.” By my count, the man had worked on ten presidential, senatorial, and congressional campaigns by the time he arrived in Washington in 2000–including key roles for Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Phil Gramm, Richard Thornburgh, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and John Ashcroft. Not exactly a list of Washington outsiders. (Oh, and for the record, Rove spent his formative years in Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah. As a native-born Texan, I would like to say: Karl Rove is no Texan. And neither is a certain Connecticut-born soon-to-be-ex-president.)

Third, in insisting that he was not “one of those perpetual I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine Washington leakers,” Karl Rove apparently forgets that he was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign for… wait for it, waaaait… leaking a personal smear to Robert Novak. Rove vehemently denied that he was the source of the leak but was fired anyway. During the Plame probe it came out in testimony that Rove was, indeed, Novak’s source in 1992, and that Novak, after Rove confirmed the Plame story in 2003, had promised, “I’m not going to let that happen to you again.” Which sounds a lot like promising to scratch Rove’s back.

Countless reputable reporters and columnists have been laid off in 2008 as the American economy enters a tighter and tighter tailspin. How long before Newsweek finally decides its streamlined budget can do without Rove’s contract? Or maybe this latest round of lies is just further confirmation of what Newsweek editor Jon Meacham says about his columnist: “Karl has to be judged in the context of who Karl is.”

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