I think it’s hilarious that the guy who masterminded George W. Bush’s rise to the White House is so offended by the idea of unqualified nitwits like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell running for office, especially the oval one. Maybe if he’d held that view 10-15 years ago we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.
As much as I would like to join Teddy in making fun of the conservative movement for relentlessly cheerleading the Bush administration when it was in power and now complaining that it wasn’t truly conservative, I can’t help but see parallels in all the progressives who are rationalizing and cheerleading Obama’s Republican healthcare bill, energy policies, and pretty much everything else. Which is especially embarrassing because Obama is far more conservative than Bush was ever progressive.
I wonder, when they’re surveying the wreckage of the Obama administration 3-7 years from now, will his progressive apologists choose that moment to finally tell us that he failed because wasn’t really much of a progressive after all?
While defending the administration’s handling of Iraq, Rove concedes that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction damaged the administration’s credibility. And he blames himself for failing to set the record straight.
“When the pattern of the Democratic attacks became apparent in July 2003, we should have countered in a forceful and overwhelming way,” he writes. “We should have seen this for what it was: a poison-tipped dagger aimed at the heart of the Bush presidency.”
If only he had done more to convince America that Iraq really did have WMDs. Maybe he should have given Dubya’s little “Where are the WMDs?” sketch a happy ending or something.
God, how I loathe the walking skidmark that is Karl Rove. And how I love Glennzilla for not missing the fat hanging curveball of bullshit that Turdblossom pitched in today’s WSJ. Rove accused Obama of engaging in exactly the same kind of straw man argument that Rove employed throughout Bush’s entire political career… because Obama implied that Republicans chose “fear, conflict and discord” over “hope” and “unity of purpose.”
The chutzpah of denying that historical reality is especially impressive when you consider that peddling “fear, conflict and discord” was Karl Rove’s job.
In a court brief quietly filed Monday, Michael Hertz, Obama’s acting assistant attorney general, said it was necessary to delay an effort to force Rove to be deposed in a congressional investigation into the firing of nine US Attorneys and the alleged political prosecution of a former Alabama governor.
Hertz said an effort was underway to find a “compromise” for Rove, and requested two weeks to broker a deal before proceeding in court.
“The inauguration of a new president has altered the dynamics of this case and created new opportunities for compromise rather than litigation,” Hertz wrote in the brief released late Monday by McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau. “At the same time, there is now an additional interested party — the former president — whose views should be considered.”
The House Judiciary Committee sued the Bush Administration to force Rove to testify last year, saying that Rove shouldn’t be covered by executive privilege. They won. But their case has been held up by an appeal, and Hertz’s filing was the Obama administration’s first legal weighing-in on the matter. Obama’s Justice Department has supplanted the role of Bush’s Justice Department in the case, and their position will likely inform the terms under which Rove is questioned by Congress.
Hertz’s statement mirrors a statement from Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig published Saturday.
“The president is very sympathetic to those who want to find out what happened,” Craig toldThe Washington Post. “But he is also mindful as president of the United States not to do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency. So, for that reason, he is urging both sides of this to settle.”
Both Hertz’s and Craig’s statement point to an underlying challenge Obama faces with regard to Rove. Since former President Bush still claims that Rove is protected from testifying to Congress by executive privilege, even after departing office, Obama must decide whether he wants to risk diluting his own executive privilege in the future.
These statements, however, stand in contrast to Obama’s previous rhetoric.
In 2007, while in the Senate, Obama rebuked Bush’s White House as “the most secretive in modern history,” which aimed “to hide its abuse of our justice system.”
Responding to a Bush claim of executive privilege, he said, “By continuing to act as the most secretive White House in modern history, the Bush Administration has once again placed itself above the law in order to hide its abuse of our justice system from the American people. On the first day of an Obama Administration, we will launch the most sweeping ethics reform in history to shed sunlight on the decisions made by government and put the interests of the American people at the center of every decision that’s made.”
Smooth move, O. Just go ahead and announce that you have no ethical principles beyond preserving your own power and prerogatives. I’m sure the American people will understand. I mean, it’s not like anyone’s clamoring for answers or justice, right?
You see, Mike Connell set-up the alternate email and communications system for the White House. He was responsible for creating the system that hosted the infamous GWB43.com accounts that Karl Rove and others used. When asked by Congress to provide these emails, the White House said that they were destroyed. But in reality, what Connell is alleged to have done is move these files to other servers after having allegedly scrubbed the files from all “known” Karl Rove accounts.
In addition, I have reason to believe that the alternate accounts were used to communicate with US Attorneys involved in political prosecutions, like that of Don Siegelman. This is what I have been working on to prove for over a year. In fact, it was through following the Siegelman-Rove trail that I found evidence leading to Connell. That is how I became aware of him. Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened.
He has flown his private plane for years without incident. I know he was going to DC last night, but I don’t know why. He apparently ran out of gas, something I find hard to believe. I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully. If you want to understand the context more broadly, I suggest you read this article I did a while back about the break-ins and arson cases that Siegelman and others have experienced.
Just to be very clear and state again, I am not claiming conspiracy theory or direct relation to Karl Rove or the White House in any of these events. What I am saying, however, is that these possible relationships cannot and should not be overlooked by investigators. There are far too many serious and reasonable questions that must be answered for the public.
I have been to Mr. Connell’s home. Mr. Connell has confided that he was being threatened, something that his attorneys also told the judge in the Ohio election fraud case. When I met with Heather, his wife, I did so carefully because of the threats he was getting.
I hope we find out soon one way or the other, via a serious and thorough investigation. And that Connell had some kind of in-the-event-of-my-untimely-death failsafe in place.
But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn’t begin with Goldwater and doesn’t celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party’s past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn’t run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn’t likely to be expunged any time soon.
What [McCarthy] lacked in ideology — and he was no ideologue at all — he made up for in aggression. Establishment Republicans, even conservatives, were disdainful of his tactics, but when those same conservatives saw the support he elicited from the grass-roots and the press attention he got, many of them were impressed…. Henceforth, conservatism would be as much about electoral slash-and-burn as it would be about a policy agenda.
For the polite conservatives, McCarthy was useful. That’s because he wasn’t only attacking alleged communists and the Democrats whom he accused of shielding them. He was also attacking the entire centrist American establishment, the Eastern intellectuals and the power class, many of whom were Republicans themselves, albeit moderate ones. When he began his investigation of the Army, he even set himself against his own Republican president, who had once commanded that service. In the end, he was censured in 1954, not for his recklessness about alleged communists but for his recklessness toward his fellow senators….
But if McCarthy had been vanquished — he died three years later of cirrhosis from drinking — McCarthyism was only just beginning. McCarthyism is usually considered a virulent form of Red-baiting and character assassination. But it is much more than that. As historian Richard Hofstadter described it in his famous essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” McCarthyism is a way to build support by playing on the anxieties of Americans, actively convincing them of danger and conspiracy even where these don’t exist.
McCarthy… was especially adept at nursing national resentments among the sorts of people that typically did not vote Republican. He stumbled onto the fact that many of these people in postwar America were frightened and looking for scapegoats. He provided them, and in doing so not only won millions of adherents but also bequeathed to his party a powerful electoral bludgeon that would eventually drive out the moderates from the GOP (posthumous payback) before it drove the Democrats from the White House.
…McCarthy’s real heir was Nixon, who mainstreamed McCarthyism in 1968 by substituting liberals, youth and minorities for communists and intellectuals, and fueling resentments as McCarthy had. In his 1972 reelection, playing relentlessly on those resentments, Nixon effectively disassembled the old Roosevelt coalition, peeling off Catholics, evangelicals and working-class Democrats, and changed American politics far more than Goldwater ever would.
Today, these former liberals are known as Reagan Democrats, but they were Nixon voters before they were Reagan voters, and they were McCarthy supporters before they were either. A good deal of McCarthy’s support came from Catholics and evangelical Protestants who, along with Southerners, would form the basis of the new conservative coalition. Nixon simply mastered what McCarthy had authored. You demonize the opposition and polarize the electorate to win.
…McCarthyism was how Republicans won. George H.W. Bush used it to get himself elected, terrifying voters with Willie Horton. And his son, under the tutelage of strategist Karl Rove, not only got himself reelected by convincing voters that John Kerry was a coward and a liar and would hand the nation over to terrorists, which was pure McCarthyism, he governed by rousing McCarthyite resentments among his base.
Republicans continue to push the idea that this is a center-right country and that Americans have swooned for GOP anti-government posturing all these years, but the real electoral bait has been anger, recrimination and scapegoating. That’s why John McCain kept describing Barack Obama as some sort of alien and why Palin, taking a page right out of the McCarthy playbook, kept pushing Obama’s relationship with onetime radical William Ayers.
And that is also why the Republican Party, despite the recent failure of McCarthyism, is likely to keep moving rightward, appeasing its more extreme elements and stoking their grievances for some time to come. There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Palin. It’s in the genes.
This rings very, very true: Demonization is the Republican specialty. Lacking any constructive vision at all (after all, one of their supposed core beliefs is that government is the problem), they offer only hate and fear and illusory free lunch scams (Trickle-down! War and tax cuts and an unfettered free market will fix everything!).
What gives me hope is that their message was finally rejected by a majority of Americans. It remains to be seen whether that was a one-time fluke or the start of a longtime trend – did the GOP lose because Obama was an extraordinarily appealing and charismatic candidate, or did they lose despite the fact that he’s a black man with a funny name, an exotic background, and tenuous connections to some dodgy people? Hell, perhaps they even lost because of Obama’s race and background, which tempted them into overplaying their hand.
Bear in mind, though: Both the 18-29 millenial cohort and the Latino population voted for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin. Those are two groups that are growing and becoming more powerful, and the Republican message of intolerance is a turnoff to them, although not necessarily for the same reasons.
If the Republicans want to keep spewing hate and hurtling to the right as the electorate grows more tolerant and moves to the left, then let them. After all, it’s a free country.
While I served as Governor of Alabama from 1999-2003 and thereafter, Karl Rove and his right-wing political cronies targeted me through a malicious, unfounded, politically-motivated prosecution. I served 9 months in federal prison before the appeals court released me. And now, Karl Rove refuses to testify before Congress about his role in this whole nefarious scheme.
That’s outrageous. By ignoring a Congressional subpoena, Karl Rove has spit in the face of Congress and the American people. As Americans, we deserve to know the truth about how our Department of Justice was used by Karl Rove and his rogue band of political operatives as a political tool to win elections. Only Congress has the power to find the truth.
If Congress lets this politicization of the Department of Justice go unchecked and unpunished, then it could well become part of America’s political culture and happen again in the future. Congress needs to keep digging until they get to the truth. Our democracy and system of justice have to be restored. The American people need to have confidence that this kind of outrageous abuse of power is at least less likely to happen in the future.
That truth-finding starts by having Karl Rove under oath before the Judiciary Committee. We the People must insist that Congress do its job and hold Karl Rove in contempt for failing to obey a subpoena. The house of cards will start to fall soon thereafter.
What would happen to the unemployed steel worker, the housewife, or the taxi cab driver who ignored a subpoena? I give you one guess: They would be behind bars. Karl Rove is not above the law, and Congress needs to make that plain and clear to Karl Rove and to everybody else.
Our democracy will cease to exist as we know it if the government is allowed to use its power to prosecute their political opponents. This fight is not about me but about saving our democracy and restoring justice in America.
That’s why I’m asking you to write Congress today and urge them to act. When Congress holds Rove in contempt, the truth will begin to become exposed. This ball of string will come unraveled. The truth will be known.
I am in this fight not only for my own freedom but also to ensure that Karl Rove is held accountable for his sins.
Together, we can fight to get the full truth from Karl Rove and restore integrity to our system of justice. America deserves nothing less.
Don Siegelman is one of those unlucky public servants who has been at the business end of the corrupt Republican personal destruction machine. He’s seen it up-close and first-hand in the worst possible way, and he understands just how unjust and evil it is. (Governor Siegelman, meet Joe and Valerie Wilson. Joe and Valerie Wilson, meet Don Siegelman.)
If you haven’t already, please visit his ContemptForRove site to send an e-mail to your congresscritter. As long as Rove and the rest of them continue to skate, the next Republican administration will not hesitate to use the same dirty tactics or worse, secure in the knowledge that they will face no consequences.
2 commentsAugust 1st, 2008 at 07:05amPosted by Eli
Last week, we learned that while investigators for the House Oversight Committee were looking into the 2004 death of Cpl. Pat Tillman… they discovered that top political aide Karl Rove had exchanged emails with the Associated Press’ Ron Fournier on the day the news of Tillman’s death broke.
In one email, Rove asked, “How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?” Fournier responded: “The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight.”
Fournier, now the wire service’s D.C. bureau chief, shrugged off the embarrassing revelation, conceding only: “I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence.”
Of course, Fournier wasn’t simply being breezy. “Have a great weekend” — that’s “breezy.”
The Fournier revelation came as no surprise to anyone who has read his recent campaign work, which has routinely been caustic and dismissive of Democratic contenders. In two “Analysis” pieces and a column, Fournier questioned whether John Edwards was a “phony,” announced the Clintons suffered from “utter self-absorption,” and claimed that Barack Obama was “bordering on arrogance.” That’s the right of a pundit. But at the same time, Fournier avoided raising any doubts about Sen. John McCain, and in fact rushed to his aid in print during the senator’s time of campaign need.
Just in case this isn’t perfectly obvious, just in case people might be wondering if it’s common for objective political reporters to email partisan operatives off the record and behind the scenes, urging them to “keep up the fight,” the answer is a resounding no. Because it violates the basic journalistic guideline of maintaining neutrality. Especially at the AP, that kind of correspondence should be considered breathtakingly inappropriate.
Think about it: That year, Rove was engineering the president’s re-election — a campaign Fournier was covering as an AP reporter — and Fournier urged Rove to “keep up the fight”? Even if that phrase was not written in connection with the campaign, that kind of communication is just wrong. If Fournier could produce emails from 2004 in which he urged top Democratic strategists to “keep up the fight,” it would certainly remove doubts about his relationship with Rove, but I suspect Fournier cannot.
But let’s dig a little deeper: In his attempt to dismiss the Rove correspondence, Fournier said that the exchange came “in the course of following an important and compelling story” while he was an AP political reporter. Meaning Fournier was just doing his job.
Yet according to a search of Nexis, Fournier didn’t write any bylined articles about Pat Tillman’s death in April 2004. Or ever, for that matter. That means Fournier wasn’t reaching out as a reporter to Rove for information, quotes, or context about the sad Tillman story. Fournier didn’t need Rove to be a “source” for the Tillman story because Fournier wasn’t covering the Tillman story.
Instead, Fournier seemed to be using the Tillman story as an opportunity to initiate contact with Rove and let him know that Fournier was on his side, and to urge Rove to “keep up the fight.”
But wait, there’s more! This is what separates a Wanker Of The Week from a mere Wanker Of The Day:
Warning Clinton during the primaries about the dangers of having a candidate’s character questioned by the press, Fournier noted that Al Gore got unfairly tagged during the 2000 presidential campaign for having claimed to have invented the Internet. Fournier patiently set the record straight, noting that Gore “never said he invented the Internet,” that “his mistake was to place himself more centrally than warranted at the creation of the technology,” and that “such nuance was lost on people who voted against him in 2000.”
Silly voters. But how on earth did they come to the false conclusion that Gore ever claimed to have invented the Internet? Answer: By reading Ron Fournier.
“He [Gore] claimed credit for inventing the Internet, and comics had a punch line for months.” [November 13, 1999]
“Gore, who once claimed to have invented the Internet, e-mailed Bush and said Democrats won’t air TV ads purchased with unlimited, unregulated donations called ‘soft money’ unless Republicans do so first.” [March 15, 2000]
Awesome. Ron Phonier is a wanker on so many levels.
“Generally speaking, Rove’s advice is action-oriented and useful,” said another senior consultant to the McCain camp. “It’s always well received.” This McCain adviser noted that Rove talks periodically to Black and a few other top campaign aides on several key matters. “It can be policy ideas, messaging ideas, fundraising prospects, or people who need calls from someone in the campaign.” Rove is “part of the information network that the campaign has,” this adviser said, adding that Rove talks fairly regularly to such key people as Wayne Berman, a major fundraiser for McCain; Nicolle Wallace, a communications adviser; and Steve Schmidt, a senior aide.
Seems like there might be some difference of opinion on whether Karl Rove and his math are an asset or a liability. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when the McCain campaign goes all-in on fearmongering, hateful smears, and impugning “Democrat” patriotism. I can hardly wait.
I’m not the least bit surprised by the revelations/accusations, but I am pretty surprised by the source:
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.
Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):
• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.
• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”
• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.
• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as “authentic” and “sincere,” is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.
McClellan was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.
Instead, McClellan’s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped.
But he writes that he later was told that “Karl was convinced we needed to do it — and the president agreed.”
“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term,” he writes. “And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”
“I still like and admire President Bush,” McClellan writes. “But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.”
McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush’s liberal critics and even charges: “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.
“The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”
Wow. History’s judgment continues to trickle out, doesn’t it. My only complaint is that Scottie is a little too willing to let Dubya personally off the hook and blame everything on his advisers. Who hired the advisers? Who made the decision to listen to them even when their advice was obviously flawed at best, insane and evil at worst? Bush is either a monster or a chump, and history will not be kind either way.
It is with great regret that I write to request that you withdraw my nomination to be a Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission. My nomination has been pending for almost two and one half years in the Senate without any resolution. This process has been extremely hard on my family, and quite frankly, we do not have the financial resources to continue to wait until this matter is resolved. I also agree with my former colleague Robert Lenhard, who recently withdrew his nomination, that it was past time that the FEC was reconstituted – the agency that is tasked with policing our campaign finance system needs to be operational during a presidential election year. Ths opposition to my nomination (however unfair) is preventing that from happening.
He actually makes a very commendable point at the end there (aside from the “however unfair” part), so it appears that he does feel some rudimentary sense of civic responsibility then again, his vision of what the FEC should be doing during a presidential election year is very different from ours.
In case you’ve forgotten why he’s a total bastard who should never have been allowed within 3000 miles of the FEC, check out the roundup at the end of this TPMMuck post.
The party, Mr. Davis told me, is “an airplane flying right into a mountain.” Analyses of its predicament reflect an “investment in the Bush presidency,” but ‘the public has just moved so far past that.” “Our leaders go up to the second floor of the White House and they get a case of White House-itis.” Mr. Bush has left the party at a disadvantage in terms of communications: “He can’t articulate. The only asset we have now is the big microphone, and he swallowed it.”
Huge political fireworks today after President Bush went to Israel and he talked about American politicians who might want to talk with Hamas or other leaders. Politicians who would sit down and appease terrorists. He said he would not do it. He would not put up with it. He would never talk to terrorists. And then he flew to Saudi Arabia to spend a couple of days with the Saudi royal family.
Jon Stewart (while showing footage of Dubya biking, fishing, and dancing):
You know what? Pictures matter. Image is everything. And when you ask military families to sacrifice so much — through stop-loss, or multiple tours without proper stateside rest, or refusing to fund a proper GI Bill, the least you can do is not force them to see you dicking around like you don’t have a care in the world.
NPR is reporting that FBI agents have raided both the home and office of Scott Bloch:
FBI agents on Tuesday raided the offices of Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch, who oversees protection for federal whistleblowers. The agents seized computers and shut down email service as part of an obstruction of justice probe, NPR has exclusively learned.
FBI agents also searched Bloch’s home and a Special Counsel field office in Dallas. A grand jury in Washington issued subpoenas for several OSC employees, including Bloch, according to NPR sources who spoke on condition their names not be used.
This morning, FBI agents in Washington took Bloch into a separate room at OSC to interview him, while additional investigators searched his office. They also arrived at his home in Alexandria, Va., with a search warrant.
The Office of Personnel Managment’s Inspector General has been looking into allegations that Bloch retaliated against career employees and obstructed an investigation. Sources close to the probe said the FBI’s raid this morning was related to work the Inspector General had already done.
The Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.
The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.
First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.
So, are Bloch and the OSC under fire for their legitimately illegitimate practices (of which there appear to be many, but when has that ever bothered BushCo. before?), or because they were getting too close to paydirt on the US Attorney firings or Rove’s Hatch Act violations? Or as retaliation for helping to boot Lurita Doan out the door?
With federal investigators closing in, Illinois political insiders hoped to avoid prison by having Bush administration architect Karl Rove oust U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, according to accusations made in federal court today.
An attorney for Rove and the Republican insider accused of leaning on him, Bob Kjellander, flatly denied the accusations this afternoon.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago dropped the bombshell allegations as part of the federal corruption trial against Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former Gov. Rod Blagojevich fundraiser and confidant.
Federal prosecutors say two witnesses could testify that they were told by two separate people close to Kjellander that he was working to get Fitzgerald removed by leaning on Rove, his old friend.
The power play was allegedly plotted before Fitzgerald received a questionably low ranking by the Bush Administration and the controversial ousting of eight U.S. Attorneys.
The first hints of the far-reaching accusations came out in court late Tuesday when Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton read the grand jury statements of Steven Loren, a co-schemer in the Rezko case.
Veteran insider Bill Cellini “said it was Bob Kjellander’s job to take care of the U.S. Attorney,” Hamilton read from the transcript, which recounted a 2004 meeting between Cellini and Loren over how to handle the deepening federal probe.
…Hamilton… said Rezko business partner Ali Ata is expected to testify Rezko told him the same thing in 2004.
“Mr. Kjellander is working with Mr. Rove to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed so someone else can come in (and end the corruption investigation),” Hamilton said in summarizing Ata’s expected testimony about Rezko’s statements.
Kjellander, an Illinois lobbyist, is a national Republican party player who recently served as treasurer to the Republican National Committee. He has been friends with Rove since the early 1970s when the two got their start in politics while still in college.
Kjellander helped orchestrate George Bush’s Midwest campaigns.
In late 2004, Fitzgerald was also the special prosecutor probing the Valerie Plame leak in which White House officials were accused of illegally disclosing her CIA identity in retribution for her husband’s opposition to the Iraq war.
Rove was questioned in that case. The investigation ultimately ended in the conviction of Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby for perjury.
In 2005, the Bush administration ranked Fitzgerald as one of several U.S. attorneys who did “not distinguish themselves” – at the same time he was pursuing landmark cases covering Plame, the Chicago Outfit and former Republican Gov. George Ryan as well as the administrations of Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Cook County President John Stroger.
The rankings later evolved into the notable ousting of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006, a move that was widely criticized as being politically motivated. Two of those attorneys fired were given the same ranking as Fitzgerald.
Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenoff said the governor was unaware of any moves to oust Fitzgerald.
This is rich. Rove and the Republicans actually tried to sabotage the case that would have otherwise been the centerpiece of their campaign against Obama. Of course, they didn’t know that at the time – they were just reflexively gaming the system to defend Republican criminals, like they always do. But now they can’t draw too much attention to Rezko, lest they draw attention to Rove’s involvement, and to the US Attorney firings. Even so, Obama should have a good strategy to bring the pain if the Republicans do come after him on Rezko.
But he’d better be careful – being tied to Rove is the worst thing that could happen to him.
(For the record, I think the Obama-Rezko connection is tenuous, and it’s a manufactured scandal – but that doesn’t mean the Republicans wouldn’t have made a big deal about it. Quite the contrary.)
3 commentsApril 23rd, 2008 at 08:30pmPosted by Eli
ROVE: …[Obama] is a very left-wing Democrat. He came out of a very radical background in organizing. His record in the Senate is the most liberal, according to the “National Journal.” He has been a conventional far-left Democrat. And we ought to recognize that. As a result, he has these associations and these people he has been comfortable being with who are not in mainstream America. Look, after 9/11, when he said true patriotism did not consist of wearing a lapel pin – – an American flag lapel pin on your lapel, but instead speaking out on the issues, he was basically, with the back of his hand, being very dismissive to millions of Americans who thought it was a patriotic act to put a flag pin on their lapel.
COLMES: Does he lack patriotism because he does not wear a lapel pan? Is he basically saying, patriotism isn’t about a pin? That is his point of view.
ROVE: Alan, I didn’t say that. What he said was that people — he was implicating that people who did wear a flag on the lapel were not true patriots. My point is not — in America, you get to decide whether you want to wear a flag lapel pin or not. What he did though was say, it was true patriotism to speak out on the issue, not to wear a flag lapel pen. He was the one questioning the patriotism of people with flags on their lapels.
COLMES: I didn’t get that from what he said. What I got –
ROVE: Read the statement carefully. He said, true patriotism — quote, true patriotism consisted of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin.
COLMES: He wasn’t questioning people who wore it. He was questioning the war.
ROVE: No, he was questioning the patriotism of those who did put a flag on their lapel. Admit it. I’m not questioning his patriotism. But he certainly questioned the patriotism of millions of people who felt the simple gesture of putting the flag on their lapel was a patriotic act, and it was.
Uh-huh. If Obama questioned anyone’s patriotism with that statement, it was the patriotism of people who didn’t speak out on the issues. In other words, people who wore a flag pin but didn’t say or do squat. Or, more to the point, people who just went along with whatever the president told them to do, no matter how insane, ill-advised, unconstitutional, or downright criminal it might be.
I’m way late on this, I know. I had planned to post it from the airport, but that didn’t exactly work out as planned. From yesterday’s NYT:
A Senate chairman said Thursday that President Bush was not involved in the firings of U.S. attorneys last winter, and he therefore ruled illegal the president’s executive privilege claims protecting his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former adviser Karl Rove.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy directed Bolten, Rove, former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy, J. Scott Jennings, to comply ”immediately” with their subpoenas for documents and information about the White House’s role in the firings of U.S. attorneys.
”I hereby rule that those claims are not legally valid to excuse current and former White House employees from appearing, testifying and producing documents related to this investigation,” wrote Leahy, D-Vt.
The executive privilege claim ”is surprising in light of the significant and uncontroverted evidence that the president had no involvement in these firings,” Leahy wrote in his ruling. ”The president’s lack of involvement in these firings — by his own account and that of many others — calls into question any claim of executive privilege.’
”If he is now saying that the president wasn’t aware of it, as we have said from the beginning, then I don’t understand why he continues to have this rope-a-dope that’s not going to go anywhere,” [White House Press Secretary Dana] Perino told reporters.
You can’t simultaneously claim executive privilege and lack of presidential involvement. They’re mutually exclusive.
Good on Leahy for finally calling BushCo. out on this, but it would have been nice if he had done it a few months ago.
2 commentsNovember 30th, 2007 at 09:38pmPosted by Eli
You are not going to believe this, well, actually you will… According to Karl Rove (on Charlie Rose), the Bush Administration did not want Congress to vote on the Iraq War resolution in the fall of 2002, because they thought it should not be done within the context of an election. Rove, you see, did not think the war vote should be “political”.
Moreover, according to Rove, that “premature vote” led to many of the problems that cropped up in the Iraq War. Had Congress not pushed, he says, Bush could have spent more time assembling a coalition, and provided more time to the inspectors.
It is worth remembering that the Senate in the fall of 2002 was controlled, barely, by Democrats. Get it? George Bush, we are being told, wanted to delay, wanted to hold back, wanted to take the time to build a coalition and let the inspectors finish their job, but that damn Congress just pushed him into it. George Bush, you see, is a careful, prudent, leader, deeply concerned about the consequences of premature.
It makes one’s head spin. Dubya wanted to be deliberate and careful, but those crazy loose cannon Democrats authorized him to use military force, thus forcing him to do so. It’s a crock, Rove knows it’s a crock, and Rove knows that we know it’s a crock.
It’s like in one of those crime shows like CSI or Law & Order, that scene where everyone knows this guy is the killer, and he knows that they know, but they don’t have any hard evidence. You know, the scene where the killer pours on the naked insincerity and says, “Why, Lieutenant, I could never do something terrible like that to her. I loved her.” All while looking the interrogator right in the eye and smirking.
It’s that exact same kind of in-your-face, ha-ha-you-can’t-touch-me fuck you to everyone who’s been paying attention, to everyone who can actually remember events from more than two days ago. “I can lie as much as I want and no-one will say anything. Sure, you bloggers can scream all you want, but we own the media, and they won’t say squat about this, except for the ones who say I’ve made an excellent and perceptive point, even though they know as well as you do that it’s just a big, wet, stinky lie I made up to piss you liberals off. Put that in your blogs and smoke it. Also, here is my ass, I am showing it to you now.”
Now, if Rove had said, “They handed a gun to a bloodthirsty sociopath; what did they think was going to happen?”, I would have been okay with that.
It’s not often that I feel the urge to pat Time Magazine on the back, but this is just too beautiful to go unpraised:
Time magazine said nothing publicly about Rove’s arrival at Newsweek, but a well-placed source told me that Bob Barnett (every Washington literati’s favorite lawyer, including Bill Clinton) had traveled to the Time-Life building on Sixth Avenue to offer Rove’s services before Newsweek snared them. Time‘s editors apparently felt the cost/benefit analysis wouldn’t be in their favor if they embraced the man who has done more than anyone to keep the spirit of Joe McCarthy alive and well in American politics. (Read Joshua Green’sdefinitive profile from the Atlantic in 2004.) “Time thought this wouldn’t be like hiring George Stephanopoulos,” my source explained. “They think Karl is essentially like an unindicted coconspirator in a whole string of felonies.”
Excellent. It’s so very rare and refreshing to see a mainstream media outlet, any mainstream media outlet, decide that some Republicans are just too disreputable to associate themselves with. On the other hand, Time thinks Ann Coulter is a delightful prankster and Joe Klein’s a journalist, so they still have some ways to go.
When you came into power in 2001, the conservative Heritage Foundation counseled that the Bush Administration: “must make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise second, and that the whole governmental apparatus must be managed from this perspective.”
…[Rove’s] background in direct mail, along with the experience he gained while converting Lyndon Johnson’s Texas into a Republican stronghold, has given him a comprehensive understanding of the technologies and trends of politics.
But in several years as a colleague, I found Rove to be the most unusual political operative I have ever known; so exceptional he doesn’t belong in the category. His most passionate, obsessive love — after his wife — is American history…. And from American history Rove knows: Events are not moved primarily by techniques; they are moved by ideas.
Rove’s main influence on the Republican Party has not been a series of tactical innovations but a series of strategic arguments. In this way, Rove is the opposite of a cynical political operator. He is not only a partisan for George W. Bush but the most serious, tireless advocate of Bushism.
Yep, you read that right: Karl is not a dirty trickster and manipulator, but a bold, big-picture visionary.
First, Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. “We were founded as a reformist party,” he said in our conversation this week, “not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead.”
My head just exploded.
The models he cites are 401(k)s and the mortgage interest deduction — government policies that encouraged individual wealth and ownership. Then Rove spent several minutes describing, with wonkish delight, the momentum and virtues of health savings accounts, a Bush-era innovation allowing individuals to save tax-free for routine medical expenses.
Hey, I think you left out bankruptcy reform, dude.
The activist use of government to help individuals get ahead may not sound controversial. Among Republicans, it is.
No it isn’t. They’re all opposed to it. The only disagreement is on how far to go in pretending otherwise.
Rove’s other two Brilliant Strategerical Ideas are that you can appeal to the base and reach out to the middle with stuff like the prescription drug benefit and immigration reform (yeah, those both worked out really well…); and that the GOP needs to reach out to minorities (or at least to socially conservative minority churchgoers who can be swayed by homophobia and faith-based initiative cash).
But the conclusion is the best part:
t is sometimes alleged that Rove’s arguments have not fully prevailed in the GOP — which is true. It is further alleged that these arguments have been discredited by events — which is not true. The complications of Iraq have obscured Rove’s victories, not undone them. And his key historical insight is unavoidable: Republicans win as conservative reformers.
Yes, that’s right: Karl Rove did not fail the Republican Party; the Republican Party failed Karl Rove.
The Ann Kornblut/Michael Shear entry in the Rove’s Legacy essay competition asks the question, “What, exactly, did the architect build?” I, too, have puzzled over this question – a castle or fortress built on a foundation of sand, perhaps?
But no, I think I finally have it now: It’s a levee, or a dike. Rove’s great “achievement” was to insulate Bush and the GOP from the consequences of their incompetence and foolishness for three election cycles. They mistakenly interpreted that electoral success as a “mandate,” and went ahead sinking the country and their party lower and lower, as the roiling waters of dissatisfaction rose higher and higher, angrier and angrier.
Rove’s edifice of dirty tricks, deceit, and naked partisanship was finally washed away in November of 2006, fatally weakened by the failure of the real levees around New Orleans, and now Bush and the Republicans are up to their necks and flailing around desperately.
It would be a lot more satisfying if the Democrats would stop throwing them life preservers.
Now that Rove is on his way out the door, some conservative pundits are suddenly realizing that maybe his strategy of dirty tricks, mobilizing the base, and turning the federal government into a partisan arm of the Republican Party was not such a great idea. Funny, none of these oh-so-principled conservatives seemed to mind when it was winning elections for them…
AS a political strategist, Karl Rove offered a brilliant answer to the wrong question.
The question he answered so successfully was a political one: How could Republicans win elections after Bill Clinton steered the Democrats to the center?
The question he unfortunately ignored was a policy question: What does the nation need – and how can conservatives achieve it?
Mr. Rove answered his chosen question by courting carefully selected constituencies with poll-tested promises: tax cuts for traditional conservatives; the No Child Left Behind law for suburban moderates; prescription drugs for anxious seniors; open immigration for Hispanics; faith-based programs for evangelicals and Catholics.
These programs often contradicted each other. How do you cut taxes and also create a big new prescription drug benefit? If the schools are failing to educate the nation’s poor, how does it make sense to expand that population by opening the door to even more low-wage immigration?
Instead of seeking solutions to national problems, “compassionate conservatism” started with slogans and went searching for problems to justify them. To what problem, exactly, was the faith-based initiative a solution?
This was a politics of party-building and coalition-assembly. It was a politics that aimed at winning elections. It was a politics that treated the problems of governance as secondary. But of course governance is what incumbents get judged on – and since 2004, the negative verdict on President Bush’s governance has created a lethal political environment for Republican candidates.
Inspiring rhetoric and solemn promises can do only so much for an incumbent administration. Can it win wars? Can it respond to natural disasters? Can it safeguard the nation’s borders? Can it fill positions of responsibility with worthy appointees? If it cannot do those things, not even the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation can save it.
…Play-to-the-base politics can be a smart strategy – so long as your base is larger than your opponents’.
But it has been apparent for many years that the Democratic base is growing faster than the Republican base. The numbers of the unmarried and the non-churchgoing are growing faster than the numbers of married and church-going Americans. The nonwhite and immigrant population is growing at a faster rate than that of white native-borns. The Democrats are the party of the top and bottom of American society; the Republicans do best in the great American middle, which is losing ground.
Frum is right in general terms, but his specifics seem iffy at best and offensive at worst. I particularly like how he says the Democrats are the party of the upper and lower classes, while the Republicans are the party of the middle class. Yeah, ‘cuz the Democrats have always been all about big business and tax cuts for the superrich…
Mr. Rove often reminded me of a miner extracting the last nuggets from an exhausted seam. His attempts to prospect a new motherlode have led the Republican party into the immigration debacle.
…We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters.
Boy, that David Frum really hates immigration, doesn’t he? Immigration reform might not have delivered a huge majority of Hispanics to the GOP, but it sure as hell wouldn’t deliver them to the Democrats.
Note to David Frum and all the other anti-immigrant true believers: You are not going to deport all the Hispanics, so you might as well try to get along with them instead of turning them into Democrats. But hey, it’s your party’s funeral.
Frum then has a very lucid paragraph, but quickly gets silly again:
Building coalitions is essential to political success. But it is not the same thing as political success. The point of politics is to elect governments, and political organizations are ultimately judged by the quality of government they deliver.
The outlook is not, however, entirely bleak for Republicans. I notice that much of the Democratic party, and especially its activist netroots, has decided that the way to beat Rove Republicanism is by emulating it. They are practicing the politics of polarization; they are elevating “framing” above policy; they have decided that winning the next election by any means is all that matters – and never mind what happens on the day after that.
If they follow this path, they should not be surprised when they discover that it leads to the same destination.
Yes, very cute, liberals are just as bad as conservatives, right, DailyKos is a hotbed of antisemitism, yadda yadda yadda.
The thing is, the polarized atmosphere that Bush, Rove, and the Republican Party have created leaves Democrats with only two choices: opposition or capitulation. Republicans are so loyal to the ultra-right that they will not reach across the aisle to compromise with Democrats, only demand that Democrats reach across to compromise with them.
So given those choices, not to mention the tiny little detail that a large majority of the American people agree with our “extremist” positions, an oppositional stance looks pretty darn rational.
Or, to look at it from a slightly different direction, Republicans and conservatives unconditionally opposed success and unconditionally support failure, while progressives (I only wish I could say Democrats) not-so-unconditionally supported success and oppose failure. I guess we’ll find out next year which approach the voters prefer.
1 commentAugust 14th, 2007 at 11:18amPosted by Eli
Karl Rove, the political adviser who masterminded President George W. Bush’s two winning presidential campaigns, is resigning.
In an interview published today in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Rove said, “I just think it’s time,” adding, “There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family.”
Mr. Rove said he had first considered leaving a year ago but stayed after his party lost the crucial midterm elections last fall, putting Congress in Democratic hands, and Mr. Bush’s problems mounted in Iraq and in his pursuit of a new immigration policy.
He said his hand was forced when the White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, recently told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would be expected to stay through the rest of Mr. Bush’s term.
“He’s been talking with the president for a long time – about a year, regarding when might be good to go,” said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman. “But there’s always a big project to work on, and his strategic abilities – and our need for his support – kept him here.” Ms. Perino said Mr. Rove would leave at the end of August.
Wow. Just… wow. I wonder if it’s just burnout – God knows, I’m sure Karl has never had to deal with this kind of full-time damage control before – or if this is yet another instance of someone resigning before an investigation zeroes in on them.
It’ll be interesting to see what changes. I’m guessing it won’t have any effect on policy, since that’s still in the hand of ideological morons, but we’ll see if the White House’s spin capabilities diminish, like they did when Rove was distracted or sidelined by illness and the Libby investigation.
Apparently, Karl Rove made the claim yesterday that the Iraqupation would not be an issue in 2008 because we will already be in the process of withdrawing.
Umm… Karl? Have you talked to your boss lately? He. Is. Not. Leaving. If we’re withdrawing troops in 2008, it’ll only be because Congressional Democrats grew spines and Congressional Republicans grew brains. Frankly, after six-and-a-half years of watching Congress cave in to Bush again and again, I can’t say I’m holding out a lot of hope.
But even if we are getting out of Iraq sometime next year, it’s still not all roses and daffodils for the Republicans. For one thing, the voters probably will not have forgotten just which party it was that clung to the war like it was their only baby. And for another, well, to be brutally blunt, what are the odds that the withdrawal itself won’t be a complete bloody disaster? From Siun:
I received a message from some friends who are in Iraq at the moment. (These friends have extensive military experience but not with US forces.) They ask a terrifying question: “How many tens of thousands are the US willing to see killed – tens of thousands of US troops that is?”
They are asking us to take this seriously – they believe that no matter what routes are picked, the US forces will have to fight their way out. They cannot believe that no one seems to understand how truly bad the situation is – and how many US soldiers are going to die as the whole situation implodes – and how completely untenable are any troops left in Iraq.
One contact wrote this weekend that the mood in Iraq is no longer just a desire to see the US leave – but to hurt the US troops as much as possible as they leave as payback for episodes such as the one I wrote about last night at Firedoglake.
They believe that what we have seen so far has been testing and preparation for greatly increased attacks on US troops esp as the surge tactics have spread them in vulnerable ways. To get a feel for the situation, one example: the US/MNF this weekend boasted about a successful shipment of water by air to one base. This means that the MNF is having trouble even moving an essential like water – see Main and Central’s analysis. At the same time, remember that tanks get only 1.8 MPG (and less in real world conditions) but there are reports that there’s even a gas shortage in the Green Zone itself. Add in the campaign to destroy all the bridges on major routes and you begin to see the level of disaster shaping up.
I suppose it’s possible that a well-crafted diplomatic and military strategy and some crack logistics could get our troops out of Iraq with a minimum of bloodshed (after all, it’s not like the Iraqis will be sorry to see us go), but in what parallel universe could BushCo. come up with a well-crafted strategy for anything?
On the other hand, maybe that’s Rove’s real strategy: Turn the withdrawal into an incompetent slaughter (now that, Dubya can do!), and then blame those whiny Democrats for bringing it about with their wimpy refusal to stay the course. I suppose that might work, but Bush’s incompetence is so well-established now, especially where Iraq is concerned, that it could easily backfire. I hope we don’t have to find out.
Griffin became the poster boy for the politicization of the U.S. attorney process. Former Justice official Kyle Sampson noted that getting Griffin into office “was important to Harriet [Miers], Karl, et cetera.” The traditional 120-day term for “interim” U.S. attorneys had expired for Griffin on April 20, yet the Justice Department continued to allow him to serve.
ThinkProgress earlier spoke with Rep. John Boozman’s (R-AR) office, which said that the congressman submitted names of replacements for Griffin to the White House on March 30. So far, no word from the Justice Department on the name of the new U.S. attorney.
In the meantime, assistant U.S. attorney Jane Duke will take over. The Justice Department had previously passed her over to install Griffin, using sexual discrimination as an excuse because Duke had been on maternity leave at the time.
I just have one question: Why was Griffin’s caging scheme only reported by British news? No, wait, don’t answer that.
Back on March 5, several top Justice Department officials were summoned for an emergency meeting at the White House. On the agenda: Going over “what we are going to say” about why eight U.S. attorneys had been summarily fired.
The reason for the urgency: principal associate deputy attorney general William Moschella was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee the next day.
Deputy White House counsel William Kelley sent an e-mail over to Justice early in the afternoon, saying that he had “been tasked” with pulling the meeting together, and that “we have to get this group together with some folks here asap.”
The meeting was held at the White House later that day. And who did Kelley mean by “some folks here”? Well, among others, Karl Rove — the White House’s chief political operative, and the man who may very well have set the unprecedented dismissals in motion in the first place.
But after the coaching session, Moschella went out and told Congress that there was no significant White House involvement in the firings, as far as he knew.
So they needed the White House to tell them that the White House had nothing to do with the firings. Yeah, that’s real convincing.
Remind me. Why do you need to ‘agree on clear reasons why each prosecutor was fired’ if the reasons were actually clear when you did the firing and if the reasons can be stated publicly? Think about it. Why do Rove and the other heavies from the White House need to tell these guys how important it is to get their stories straight? If I fire someone, I know why I fired them. I don’t need to get my story straight unless the real reason can’t be stated and I need to come up with a defensible and plausible alternative explanation.
Really, any time you need to meet to “get your stories straight,” that’s a bad sign – even more so when people who were supposedly peripheral to the decision process are driving the story-straightening process.