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Rove Whistles Dixie

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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.

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