I don’t quite know what this headline means, really, but then again, it’s about as clear as the White House position on the matter of Karl Rove. Yesterday’s press briefing seemed to end in an impasse, with Scott McClellan reaching the limit of what he would say and the White House Press Corps pressing him on it, anyway (Jon Stewart: “We’ve secretly replaced the White House press corps with actual reporters”). Meanwhile, President Bush has twice refused to answer questions on the matter. Though we do know that he is “loyal to my friends” and that “any individual who works here at the White House has the confidence of the president,” we have not heard anything equal to prior assertions that it was “ridiculous” that Rove could be involved in the leak (McClellan: September 29, 2003) or that Bush would fire anyone who had revealed confidential information. (Part of the dance: was the information Rove shared with Cooper et al confidential? Suddenly Valerie Plame has morphed from an outed CIA agent in a move compromising national security to a lame-duck agency spook with a desk job whose CIA affiliation was no secret).
Naturally Rove is keeping mum here; his lawyer already did a few pirouettes around straight answers, issuing denials for his client turning on semantics (i.e. whether information was “knowingly” passed). Meanwhile, in all the careful refusals to comment on an “ongoing criminal investigation” the less stringent standards that ought to apply to White House operatives are also being ignored: even if Rove did not “knowingly” out an un-outable Plame, should the White House condone retributive smear tactics against its critics? (The New York Times think it shouldn’t; the Wall Street Journal thinks it should).
Other matters that the White House is side-stepping: Who is the other leaker? Who lied to whom in order to produce the McClellan 2003 denial of Rove’s involvemment? Karl to George? Karl & George to Scott? Karl, George & Scott to the press corps, and by extension the public? Where has Fitgerald been in the past few days, anyway? At what point should we be back to wondering what his intentions are? Is Rove ever going to say anything about this publicly? Put on those dancing shoes, looks like everyone gets a spin.