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Master of bashing

Master of bashing


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 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.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Charles Kaiser