Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bummer For NYT: They Miss Rove Again

"Can we get Karl Rove? Can we really get him?"

You can just hear the urgency, the fervid anticipation in the voices around the editorial board room of the NYTimes. They missed him with the Plame Game, but maybe now, with AG AG and the federal prosecutors ...

So, with sweaty palms and furtive eyes, they launched today's salvo: "E-Mail Shows Rove's Role in Fate of Prosecutors."

Except the emails don't do anything of the sort.

Refresher course: When President Bush took office, something he accomplished with Karl Rove's help, he set three goals for anyone who wanted to serve as a U.S. attorney: Prosecute voter fraud, prosecute immigration offenses, particularly by business, and pursue federal death penalty cases. Anyone who accepted a position as a U.S. Attorney knew what was expected of them.

Presumably, someone in DC would be tasked with monitoring how those goals are being achieved, both in the consideration of fed prosecutors and evaluation of their performance. And guess what? It was so, says the NYT:
Almost every Wednesday afternoon, advisers to President Bush gather to strategize about putting his stamp on the federal courts and the United States attorney's offices.

The group meets in the Roosevelt Room and includes aides to the White House counsel, the chief of staff, the attorney general and Karl Rove, who also sometimes attends himself. Each of them signs off on every nomination.

Mr. Rove, a top adviser to the president, takes charge of the politics. As caretaker to the administration’s conservative allies, Mr. Rove relays their concerns, according to several participants in the Wednesday meetings. And especially for appointments of United States attorneys, he manages the horse trading.

The article then goes on to describe some of the horse trading. Perhaps a Senator who Bush had to burn a bit has a candidate for U.S. Attorney. Rove would then say, "If the candidate checks out, let's throw the Senator a bone." Or, as the article goes into in great detail regarding the Illinois investigation of former Republican governor, Rove enforced the political rule that U.S. Attorneys should be from the states in which they'll serve.

As the president's chief political advisor, that's exactly Rove's role: playing politics, rewarding allies, isolating opponents. You may want to check this out for yourself, but rumor has it such political play also was at work by Harold Ickes in Clinton's White House, and by senior political aides of Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman and FDR. So it is and was and will be.

Yet to the NYT, it's Rove, so it's different. There's just one problem with their analysis. They know they've got nothing on Rove in this messy heap of "journalism," yet they labored hard to bury that fact. But in the end, all they can say is that Rove was involved in the hiring of federal prosecutors; nothing in the story mentions his meddling in their firing -- not that such meddling would be wrong in any way, since U.S. attorneys serve at the president's will.

The story mentions problems with investigations of political corruption in Washington and New Mexico, and tries to make Rove the man behind the curtain that we're not supposed to pay attention to:
In the months before the United States attorneys in New Mexico and Washington State were ousted, Mr. Rove joined a chorus of complaints from state Republicans that the federal prosecutors had failed to press charges in Democratic voter fraud cases. While planning a June 21, 2006, White House session to discuss the prosecutors, for example, a Rove deputy arranged for top Justice Department officials to meet with an important Bush supporter who was critical of New Mexico’s federal prosecutor about voter fraud.
Wait. There was a "chorus of complaints?" It wasn't just Rove? You mean, perhaps a lot of people were aware that something was going wrong in the federal atty offices of New Mex and Washington, where directive #1, prosecution of voter fraud, was just not happening the way it should?

And Rove's reaction to this chorus? Was it something particularly devious? Was it "Off with their heads?" No, he worked to placate an important contributor, which is what he is supposed to do. Protect the base, protect the fundraising, represent the president well.

Of course, sometimes Rove's role was to push a new candidate that could help achieve the President's objectives and score some political points in the process. Securing a position for such a person would require the removal of the attorney currently serving, so this is the door the NYT wants to drive a big truck through: Karl Rove axed so-and-so so a Bush Buddy could get the job. Again, they fail to come up with anything; this is as close as they got:

In Arkansas, Representative John Boozman, the state’s highest ranking Republican in Congress, said he recommended Mr. Rove’s protégé, Mr. Griffin, for a United States attorney vacancy in 2004, in part because of his ties to Mr. Rove.

A prosecutor in the Army Reserves, Mr. Griffin worked for Mr. Rove as an opposition researcher attacking Democratic presidential candidates in 2000. In between, for six months, the Justice Department had dispatched him to Arkansas to get experience as a prosecutor.

“I have been in situations through the years where Tim and Karl were at,” Mr. Boozman recalled. “I could tell that Karl thought highly of him.” -

Mr. Griffin dropped out of the running in 2004 when he accepted a campaign job for Mr. Rove, then became his deputy in the White House. But last summer, the department asked United States Attorney H. E. Cummins III to resign to make room and Mr. Rove’s staff began talking with department officials about how to install Mr. Griffin despite Senate opposition, internal e-mail shows.

No Rovian fingerprints are announced; a routine dismissal through routine channels followed by designing a confirmation campaign is the best the journalistic stars at the NYT can come up with -- and if they bothered to look at Dem administrations half as scrupulously as they pore over every Bush/Rove move, they would find this is BAU -- business as usual -- in politics.

Bottom line: Having nothing didn't keep the NYT from slapping a headline and a photo on this mess and waving it before the world so those who don't take the time to read the two-clicker will come away with the impression that Rove fired federal attorneys.

It was just another big "expose" that exposes nothing more than the MSM's relentless pursuit of their prey. This time, the fox again outran the hounds.

Hat-tip: memeorandum

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