Master of bashing

BY Charles Kaiser

September 11 2005 11:00 PM ET

The least
surprising news out of Washington this year is that Karl
Rove was one of the White House officials who tried to
discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson by telling a
reporter that Wilson’s wife was Valerie Plame,
a CIA undercover agent who had suggested sending Wilson on a
fact-finding mission regarding Iraq’s alleged
weapons of mass destruction. Rove referred to Plame as
“fair game.” The man with the pudgy face whom
George Bush hailed as “the architect” of
his reelection campaign (while others call him the
president’s “brain”) has always had a
soft spot in his heart for character assassination.
The only real surprise here is that Rove was publicly
identified as the leaker this time—after White House
press secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly quoted Rove
as saying he had nothing to do with disclosing
Plame’s name.

Plame should
count herself lucky that she was identified only as a spook
instead of a lesbian. As Joshua Green pointed out in a
lengthy profile in The Atlantic, homosexual
smears have been a Rove leitmotif. Bush’s 1994
campaign for Texas governor against Ann Richards
“featured a rumor” that Governor
Richards was a lesbian, while that same year an Alabama
judicial candidate was called a “homosexual
pedophile”—without a shred of evidence
in either instance. Since gay accusations would have been
implausible against John McCain, when Bush ran against him
for president in 2000, word was spread instead that
the ex-POW was crazy.

As the great
American columnist Molly Ivins put it, “Karl has
always been such a sweet guy. Just to give you an
idea, one time Rove was displeased with the job done
by a political advance man and said, ‘We will f---
him. Do you hear me? We will f--- him. We will ruin
him. Like no one has ever f---ed him!’ (From an
article by Ron Suskind.) And that was a guy who was on
his side.”

The infuriated
CIA demanded a federal investigation of the Plame outing,
which led to the appointment of a special prosecutor. But
once Rove was implicated, all the usual Republican
suspects made the rounds of the Washington chat shows
to extol the master of gutter politics. My favorite
Rove defender was Orrin Hatch, the Utah senator who
repeatedly referred to Rove as an
“honorable” man. Hatch then earned himself a
nomination for this year’s Washington chutzpah
award by explaining that Rove couldn’t be
guilty of any wrongdoing because he had exposed
Plame’s identity as a covert agent “on
background” only in his conversation with Time
reporter Matt Cooper.

Rove took his gay
bashing to its logical extreme during last year’s
presidential election: by getting the president to endorse
an antigay marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution
and by encouraging as many state referenda as possible
on same-sex marriage to energize the
president’s evangelical Christian base. And yet, if
you’re a reliable supporter of the president
like James Dale Guckert, a.k.a. Jeff Gannon, the
“reporter” who got access to the White House
press room for two years to throw softball questions
to the president and his spokesmen, the White House
doesn’t seem to care about your sexual orientation at
all. It doesn’t even seem to be upset after
it’s revealed that you’ve been trying to
bolster your income by moonlighting on a Web site called
HotMilitaryStud.com. And most of the White House press corps
doesn’t even consider your presence within
their midst to be a story worth writing about!

Stories like this
only make sense as satire—which explains why Jon
Stewart’s Daily Show has become the last
reliable source of TV news about our nation’s
capital.

Tags: Commentary

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