In his column today, right-wing pundit Robert Novak lays one accolade at Karl Rove’s feet after another, calling him “one of the most effective and most powerful of all presidential aides” and “one of the canniest and most successful managers in American political history.”
Novak mourns that the “happy warrior” Rove had lost his “political joy” as a result of the CIA leak investigation:
Rove had always been a happy warrior, self-confident in building a broad-based Republican majority. But his political joy was diminished by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of him in the CIA leak case. Although Fitzgerald knew from the start that not Rove but the politically nondescript Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was my primary source in identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA employee, the prosecutor came close to indicting Rove for perjury or obstruction of justice. Rove rivaled Bush as a hate figure for left-wing politics.
Joseph Wilson did not know the identity of my source when he talked about “frog-marching” Rove into jail, setting a mindless pattern soon followed by bloggers and politicians alike. A talkative juror, after convicting Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice, expressed sorrow that it was not Karl Rove.
The desire to get Rove has outlived the Plame case, with Democratic lawmakers trying to make him the target in the firings of U.S. attorneys. Since there will be no impeachment proceedings against the president, Rove has been the best available surrogate.
Novak attempts to spin Rove’s participation in the leak scandal as the fantasies of “mindless” bloggers. For the record, Karl Rove was a confirming source for Novak’s outing of Valerie Plame. Rove also told Time’s Matt Cooper that Plame worked at the “agency on wmd,” and ended that conversation by saying “I’ve already said too much.” Immediately after Novak’s column appeared in July 2003, Rove called MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and told him that Wilson’s wife was “fair game.”
Asked in Sept. 2003 whether he had “any knowledge” of the leak or whether he leaked the name of the CIA agent, Rove told ABC News “no.” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, after having “spoken to Karl,” asserted that “it is a ridiculous suggestion” to say Rove was involved in the leak. In August 2004, Rove maintained, “I didn’t know her name and didn’t leak her name.”
Novak has called Rove one of his best sources inside the White House, and he has made clear that he “tries not to” ever “criticize a source” in his column. The combination of those two factors — as Novak proves today — makes for entertaining “truthiness.”
UPDATE: Marcy Wheeler has more.