The Hot Air Factory

The Hot Air Factory

Under Karl Rove’s deft hand, Bush has been maneuvered from one catastrophe to another. Why is the left obsessed with him?

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Thank God Rove is not to be indicted, so the left will have to talk about something else for a change. As a worthy hobbyhorse for the left, the whole Plame scandal has never made any sense. What was it all about in the first analysis? Outing a CIA employee. What’s wrong with that?

Rove has swollen in the left’s imagination like a descendant of Père Ubu, Jarry’s surreal monster. There was no scheme so deviously diabolical but that the hand of Rove could not be detected at work. Actually, the man has always been of middling competence. He makes Dickie Morris look like Cardinal Richelieu. Since 9/11 where has been the good news for the Administration? Under Rove’s deft hand George W. Bush has been maneuvered into one catastrophe after another. Count the tombstones: “Bring it on,” “Mission Accomplished,” the sale of US port management to Arabs. It was Rove who singlehandedly rescued the antiwar movement last August by advising Bush not to give Cindy Sheehan fifteen minutes of face time at his ranch in Crawford.

And when Rove’s disastrous hand is wrenched from the steering wheel, it passes to another bugaboo of the left, in the form of Dick Cheney. It was the Vice President who gave Jack Murtha traction last November when the Democrats were trying to cold-shoulder the author of the only decent political initiative to have come from their ranks since the election of 2004. In his wisdom the draft-dodging Cheney insulted the bemedaled former Marine drill instructor as having no “backbone” and, via a White House spokesman, as being a clone of Michael Moore. He had to apologize three days later.

Rove and Cheney, the White House’s answer to Bouvard and Pécuchet, have driven George Bush into the lowest ratings of any American President. Yet the left remains obsessed with their evil powers. Is there any better testimony to the vacuity and impotence of the endlessly touted “blogosphere,” which in mid-June had twin deb balls in the form of the Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas and the Take Back America folkmoot of “progressive” Democrats in Washington, DC?

In political terms the blogosphere is like white noise, insistent and meaningless. But MoveOn.org and Daily Kos are now hailed as the emergent form of modern politics, the target of an excited article by Bill McKibben in The New York Review of Books.

Beyond raising money swiftly handed over to the gratified veterans of the election industry, both MoveOn and Daily Kos have had zero political effect, except as a demobilizing force. The effect on writers is horrifying. Talented people feel they have to produce 400 words of commentary every day, and you can see the lethal consequences on their minds and style, which turn rapidly to slush. They glance at the New York Times and rush to their laptops to rewrite what they just read. Hawsers to reality soon fray and they float off, drifting zeppelins of inanity.

Take Truthout.com, the site identified with William Rivers Pitt and Mark Ash. After months and months of obsessive bloggings about the Plame scandal, Truthout contributor Jason Leopold declared May 13 that Karl Rove had been indicted on charges of perjury and lying to investigators. Leopold cited “sources” averring that prosecutor Fitzgerald had met for fifteen hours with Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, and that Rove had told Bush and his chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, that he was about to be indicted.

In the days that followed came immediate, categorical denials from Rove’s lawyer and the White House. The week progressed with no indictment. It looked as though Truthout would have to sponge the egg off its face. Truthout did nothing of the sort, insisting as vehemently as any lunatic claiming abduction by aliens that they stuck by their story. On June 12 Leopold even raised the ante: “Four weeks ago, during the time when we reported that White House political adviser Karl Rove was indicted for crimes related to his role in the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, the grand jury empaneled in the case returned an indictment that was filed under seal in US District Court for the District of Columbia under the curious heading of Sealed versus Sealed.” This, Leopold wrote, could well mean the Rove indictment.

Rarely has a story been more swiftly and conclusively undercut. Later that day prosecutor Fitzgerald formally advised Rove’s lawyer that he did not anticipate seeking charges against Rove. Truthout’s reaction? On June 13 Truthout’s chief editor, Mark Ash, told a reporter that they were sticking by their story, and that Rove’s non-indictment was “directly contradicted by the information we have.”

Welcome to blog world. They’re loonies, beyond any sanction or reproof by reality. These people are going to stop a war, change the direction of our politics? They make Barbra Streisand sound like Che Guevara.

At the Kos convention, if we are to believe–which I do–the hilarious reports by Michael J. Smith on our CounterPunch site, the ugly matter of the war in Iraq was scarcely raised, as the Kosniks reserved the surge of their passion for… Joe Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame.

In Washington the Pwogs sported all the usual suspects talking about “Taking Back America.” There was no spot for Jack Murtha. The war in Iraq was barely on the Take Back formal agenda. It slunk into one panel on the last day, featuring–who else–Joe Wilson. Meanwhile, there are lines around the block for Al Gore’s movie about global warming. Can we “take back” the weather? Of course not, unless by pharmaceutical means. The FDA has given final approval to GlaxoSmithKline to launch Wellbutrin XL, to combat “seasonal affective disorder.” Is there any good political news? Though he has suspended his bid for now, it looks as though Jack Murtha will still challenge Steny Hoyer for the post of Democratic leader if the Dems recapture the House in November. This would be an encouraging prospect. But this is the party that couldn’t pick up Duke Cunningham’s seat in Southern California, after the Dukester donned his prison overalls.

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