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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:
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.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
Length in days of the sentence Russian blogger Alexei Navalny served for leading an opposition rally last year:
Israeli researchers developed software that evaluates the depression of bloggers.
A teenager in Singapore was convicted of obscenity for posts critical of Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding father, that included an image of Lee having sex with Margaret Thatcher.
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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.”