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Our friends at Talking Points Memo have been keeping a watch on the Siegelman affair. Since a Republican lawyer went forward with a sworn affidavit concerning the GOP plot to frame former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman–a plot involving Karl Rove, his Bama buddy William Canary, and U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (yes, they’re husband and wife)–few things have been as telling of the White House press corps(e) as their failure to ask a question about the affair.
Then last week, Bush and Rove went on the road . . . to the Heart of Dixie. And on Thursday, a reporter for the Huntsville Times popped the question to Rove directly. So how did Rove respond?
Rove was in Alabama on Thursday with President Bush as he toured the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Athens. When asked about Siegelman’s allegations that he was pulling the puppet strings behind the ex-governor’s prosecution, Rove smiled and denied it. “I know nothing about any phone call,” Rove said.
Then a White House press aide stepped up and said, “What he meant to say was that he has no comment.”
Note Rove’s masterful non-denial denial. No one has ever suggested that Rove was in the phone call. To the contrary, it was a phone call among others about Rove. So his statement was not, in fact, a denial of anything. And note that immediate interpretive rebound by the unidentified press aide: “No comment.” How should that be construed? As England’s greatest lawyer, Thomas More, put it, Qui tacet consentit. He who fails to answer, states his consent.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”