EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the August 8, 2005, issue of National Review.
Karl Rove certainly doesn’t act like a guilty man. Caught in the middle of the “Plamegate” leak investigation, accused of “smearing” Bush critic Joseph Wilson and “outing” Wilson’s CIA-agent wife, Valerie Plame, Rove has been going about his normal duties at the White House; people close to him say his daily schedule is packed, as always, with matters like judicial nominations, Social Security, and general White House stuff. His lawyer tells National Review that Rove has been assured by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he is not a target of the investigation. Rove has testified before the grand jury three times. And he has released any reporter who talked to him about the Plame/Wilson affair from any pledge of confidentiality.
#AD#It’s not exactly the profile of a man with something to hide. Yet in spite of it all, Rove has emerged as Target A of the coalition of Democratic lawmakers, liberal pundits, and left-wing activists who have decided that Plamegate is their best shot–for now, at least–at the Bush administration. And they’ve been taking that shot, over and over and over. Harry Reid, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Paul Krugman, MoveOn.org–they’re all in the fight.
At times, the rhetoric has become slightly surreal. “The bottom line is, there’s a traitor in the White House who betrayed America and the war on terror right under George Bush’s nose,” former Al Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said on CNN recently. He was referring to Rove. Executives at the liberal radio network Air America liked the phrase “traitor in the White House” so much that they created an anti-Rove fundraising campaign around it. And one of the network’s hosts recently asked New Jersey Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, “Karl Rove is guilty of treason, isn’t he?” Lautenberg said, “Yes, I think so.”
The Republican National Committee has fought back, not only defending Rove–there is no evidence that anybody knows of to suggest he broke the law–but also pointing out that some of the things that Wilson has said in the past did not turn out to be, uh, true. . .
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