Friday, July 15, 2005

Game Over
It's interesting how fast the Rove scandal transformed itself over the course of this week. Monday and Tuesday, with Scott McClellan getting his brains beat out by the White House press corps and the mainstream media finally on the case, we dared to hope that we might finally see somebody in the administration doing the perp walk so many of them richly deserve.

Wednesday the Repugs started fighting back, as their big-lie talking points turned the truth on its head and were being regurgitated by the usual suspects--the Wall Street Journal, RNC chief Ken Mehlman, and dumbass reporters who can't tell spin from fact. After watching the spectacle all day, Josh Marshall reflected on the tactic early yesterday morning and called it "terror by grand moral inversion, the lie so total and audacious that it almost knocks opponents off their feet."

And in the end, that's the problem Democrats have in responding to the scandal, the news media has in covering it, and Mr. and Mrs. America have in making up their minds about it. They simply can't process the idea that the people in charge of the country would simply make shit up in such a broad, blunt, fantastical way, and so they blink and fumble and try to find their way back to familiar, comfortable ground--which means they end up crediting the administration as being more truthful than its critics. A corollary problem is that when the Repugs come up with their opposite "interpretation," and that interpretation is played equally with the facts of the case in the ever-lovin' "fair and balanced" journalistic ideal, Mr. and Mrs. America start thinking of the whole thing as yet another political pissing match that has nothing to do with them.

And so by late yesterday, it started looking like the momentum had turned, and that the Repugs were going to win this one, too. This morning we got the capper, at least for the moment--a report that Rove testified that he got Valerie Plame's name from Robert Novak, and not the other way around, which is what we've been hearing for two years, and what most people in a position to know believe actually happened. Whether Rove lied or whether he didn't, this revelation from somebody in a position to know what the grand jury heard is going to be enough to send the wingnuts into a victory dance, make the mainstream media back away from their aggressive reporting on the scandal, and confirm for Mr. and Mrs. America that this is simply another he-said, she-said Washington controversy, and they shouldn't let it interfere with their weekend. The headline on the AP story says a mouthful: "Rove Learned CIA Agent's Name From Novak." Not "Rove Claims He Learned CIA Agent's Name From Novak"--he learned it. End of story.

Now it's possible that Rove could still end up being indicted by the grand jury, and if that happens, then the game goes into overtime. Salon noted yesterday that short of an indictment, Rove will never be fired. But if that doesn't happen, we can mark down July 15 as the day he got away with it.

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