Friday, October 28, 2005

ROVE may be FITZGERALD's target (and how Democrats should respond)

Rumors are rampant and speculation runs wild. See last night's round-up of the pre-indictment scene here.

Today brought more of the same (if no indictments or anything else of much substance).


First, the MSM:

Here's what The New York Times had to say:

Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

As rumors coursed through the capital, Mr. Fitzgerald gave no public signal of how he intended to proceed, further intensifying the anxiety that has gripped the White House and left partisans on both sides of the political aisle holding their breath.

Mr. Fitzgerald's preparations for a Friday announcement were shrouded in secrecy, but advanced amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions that left open the possibility of last-minute surprises. As the clock ticked down on the grand jury, people involved in the investigation did not rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case.

See also The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN. (The Anonymous Liberal comments on the Times vs. the Post.)


Second, the blogosphere:

The Moderate Voice, as usual, is all over the story -- with links to posts by Joe, me, and my fellow co-bloggers. See also here.

AMERICAblog is making the best of it and remains optimistic: "I won't lie to you, I'd rather have a Rove indictment (and we still may get one -- let's face it, it ain't over till the Irish prosecutor sings). But having this be a non-conclusion, having the Veeps chief of staff indicted, and having Rove REMAIN under investigation is pretty damn good. It will keep the White House in chaos for years to come. I still say it's 50-50 that Rove resigns tomorrow so that the president can move on."

I'd like a Rove indictment, too -- if it's warranted. But it's certainly true that a continuation of the investigation would keep the White House off-balance.

Hunter at Daily Kos: "The 'will remain under investigation' part seems to pretty clearly paint him as a continued target, though, so I don't see much joy in Roveland for the time being."

No, but there's some joy in Reactionland. It's fun to watch the Bushies squirm.

The Heretik rejects the Clinton comparison tossed around by conservatives without a clue: "A lie is a lie is a lie, as those who attacked Clinton would say and this has come back to haunt them. But whereas Clinton’s lies were in a private sphere made all too public, what we have here are lies made in private that have done great public damage."

In an excellent post, Needlenose looks at some of the key players in this story.

See also The Mahablog. And TalkLeft has some thoughts.


On the right, which hasn't had much to say about Plamegate recently, John Hinderaker at Power Line is more positive (from the right's perspective) than most: "So, if the Times is right, it's good news for the administration and a disappointment for the Democrats, who have staked so much on Fitzgerald's investigation."

But Jonah Goldberg at NRO's The Corner is worried about what will happen if Rove is neither indicted nor cleared but left in a state of purgatory: "This situation (if it is the situation) brings no closure of any kind. The media is obviously going to take a glass-is-half-full perspective on this and keep up Rove-indictment-watch. That means Rove remains distracted, no fresh start."

Goldberg and AMERICAblog essentially agree (which may be a Sign of the Apocalypse... or a Sign of the Renaissance... I'm just not sure). And I generally agree with them. For now (given that we still don't know what's going to happen).


Generally, liberals are waiting with heightened anticipation, but Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly, whom I admire as much as anyone in the blogosphere, remains characteristically cautious (and sensible): "I hope this isn't turning into a Ken Starr-style fishing expedition. As much as I'd like to see Karl Rove frog marched out of the West Wing, I have to say that if Fitzgerald hasn't been able to make a case against him in two years, it might be time to call it a day. This investigation shouldn't last forever." Andrew Sullivan makes much the same point.

I tend to agree -- to a point. What concerns me is that many of Bush's opponents (Democrats, liberals, etc.) are still looking for the smoking gun that will bring him down. Back in June, it was the Downing Street Memo, but that really didn't go anywhere. Now it's the outing of Valerie Plame (and, beyond her, the Bush Administration's manipulation of pre-war intelligence and its dirty campaign against its own opponents), but what if there just isn't a smoking gun? Aren't Bush's opponents -- aren't we -- placing too much emphasis on Fitzgerald's investigation? Aren't we hoping for too much?

No, don't get me wrong. I'm no Richard Cohen. I'm not saying that no one did anything wrong or that the investigation should stop -- nor are Drum and Sullivan. But let's let the indictments come down and go from there. If further investigation is required, so be it. I wish Fitzgerald all the best and hope he turns up the truth. But if not, or if it's just Libby and not Rove, or if there's no evidence that Cheney was involved, or if the story ends on awhimperr and evaporates into oblivion, then shouldn't we just move on?

We seem to be stuck here, waiting, waiting, waiting, hoping, hoping, hoping, fingers crossed that Fitzmas is right around the corner, that we'll come down early in the morning, open up our stockings, and find Rove's mugshot and video of a disgraced Cheney departing Washington for Halliburton-funded retirement in Wyoming. And then... oh, what then?! Bush's approval ratings tanking back into the 30s, then into the 20s, a cannibalistic GOP descending further into self-destruction, the Plame Game become the Blame Game, and a triumphant Democratic Party sweeping through 2006 with possession of both houses of Congress, then kicking the bastards out of the White House two years later.

(Sorry, was I dreaming?)

Look, let's just remain sober about this. It looks like Libby will be indicted, but Rove may get off (so to speak). Can we live with that?

Either way, if that's what happens, if there's no Fitzmas, let's not get too down. We need to think about what we stand for, what our core ideas are, and how, more practically, we can win in 2006 and 2008 -- see here for my post on how Democrats can win again. But also, we need to focus less on what Bush's officials have been up to and more on what Bush himself has been up to. That is, if I may be so partisan, let's focus on Iraq, the war on terrorism, Katrina, the Miers debacle, social security, tax cuts and the bloated deficit, health care, and all the other issues on which we're right and they're wrong, on which Bush has been an abject failure and on which the Republicans have taken America down a path to weakness and insecurity.

I also hope for the best -- the more indictments the merrier, the more disgrace the better -- but I'm also prepared for a less-than-best outcome. Let's not get stuck here. Fitzmas or no Fitzmas, there's still a lot for us to do.

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