No Comment — August 21, 2009, 1:46 pm

Rove’s Sorry Victim Act

A few years ago, when I was trying to fathom Karl Rove’s approach to politics, one of Rove’s Texas business associates pointed me to a strategy memo that Rove wrote for former Texas governor Bill Clements. Rove quoted Napoleon: “The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by rapid and audacious attack.” When things are down, he noted, Rove’s instinct is always the same: attack.

Right now, things have never been worse for Karl Rove. He sits in the crosshairs of yet another special prosecutor, and after resisting requests from Justice Department investigators and congressional inquiry, he was compelled to give evidence. But Rove’s response to this is—as always–to attack. The House inquiry has proved him innocent of the charge of manipulation of U.S. attorneys, he writes in the Wall Street Journal, so now the Judiciary Committee chair, the New York Times and Washington Post among others, owe him an apology! The main problem with Rove’s piece is that it is utterly fact-free—a point which never stops Rove, of course, nor the editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal. Both are intent on creating the “facts” that please them. Last night Rachel Maddow did a bit of burrowing into the record to show just how absurd Rove’s claims are:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

One point that fairly emerges from a review of the 6,000 pages of White House and other materials released by the Judiciary Committee is this: when Republican politicos wanted to influence something at the Justice Department, there was one phone number they knew to ring. Rove would have us believe that he was just a patient listener, but the record shows otherwise. Rove was crafting an environment in which U.S. attorneys around the country knew that failing to follow Rove’s agenda carried a price: being fired and smeared.

One curious aspect of the Rove column is its heavy attack on a relatively unknown Republican lawyer from Alabama named Jill Simpson. He singles out Simpson, charging that Committee staff considered her not credible and claiming that she refused cooperation with investigators. Rove’s claims are totally false. If Committee staffers considered Simpson not credible, why did they release a report that draws heavily on her testimony, demonstrating that it is corroborated on key points with supporting documents? On the other hand, evidence collected by the Committee and by news outlets around the country provide a solid basis to question Rove’s credibility, as Representative John Conyers noted. Rove’s own conduct fuels these suspicions: he struggled for two years to avoid testifying under oath, and when he testified he gave evasive, oblique half answers, always conditioned on present recollection. Rove also states that Simpson refused to cooperate with a Department of Justice investigation. This claim is curious coming from Rove, who in fact refused to cooperate with the Justice Department’s probe, but it is also untrue, as I noted in an interview with Raw Story yesterday.

Rove’s attacks are not from a position of strength. They’re more akin to the pathetic lashings of a cornered feral animal. Perhaps Rove knows more than we do about the prosecutor’s intentions with respect to his case.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2016

American Idle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

My Holy Land Vacation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The City That Bleeds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

El Bloqueo

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Vladivostok Station

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ideology of Isolation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The City That Bleeds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing."
Photograph (detail) © Wil Sands/Fractures Collective
Post
Inside the July Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tom Bissell on touring Israel with Christian Zionists, Joy Gordon on the Cuban embargo, Lawrence Jackson on Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising, a story by Paul Yoon, and more

i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.

The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”

Artwork: Camels, Jerusalem (detail) copyright Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Post
Europe’s Hamilton Moment·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"We all know in France that as soon as a politician starts saying that some problem will be solved at the European level, that means no one is going to do anything."
Photograph (detail) by Stefan Boness
[Report]
How to Make Your Own AR-15·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Even if federal gun-control advocates got everything they wanted, they couldn’t prevent America’s most popular rifle from being made, sold, and used. Understanding why this is true requires an examination of how the firearm is made.
Illustration by Jeremy Traum
Article
My Holy Land Vacation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"I wanted to more fully understand why conservative politics had become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson

Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:

6,000

An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.

A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today