Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Time For Gay Baiting Rove To Hit The Road

That Karl Rove should find himself at the center of the controvery surrounding the "who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame" affair should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed his ascension to political power. He has become a master at using divisive wedge issues and dirty campaign tactics to destroy political opponents. He is not beneath making up complete lies about his opponents to discredit them. And he has been the driving force behind the Republican Party's use of the "gay marriage issue" and other issues pertaining to gays as wedge issues in recent elections.

Soon after Chicago Sun-Times syndicated columnist Robert Novak outed the identity of Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson and an undercover CIA operative, Ambassador Wilson publicly charged that Novak's source for his July 14, 2003 column was President Bush's close political confidant and Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove. Rove vehemently denied Wilson's charge at the time. As reported by the Washington Post, Rove's often repeated refrain in response to Wilson's explosive charge, "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name," at its face value seemed to absolve Rove of any role in Plame's outing. Rove's statement was bolstered by White House Press Secretary, Scott McClelland. "I spoke with [Rove], as I pointed out, and [he] assured me [he was] not involved in this," McClellan said. "And that's where it stands." Reporters pressed McClellan to clarify that statement but he held to the words in his first answer until one reporter asked, "[Rove was] not involved in what?" To which he replied, "The leaking of classified information." Of particular interest is the fact that the e-mails disclosed that Rove had spoken to Cooper prior to the outing of Plame in Novak's column.

At the time of the disclosure the Bush Administration was hopping mad at Ambassador Wilson, who had been sent as a special envoy by the CIA to Niger to investigage Iraq's efforts to obtain uranium for use in weapons of mass destruction. Wilson sought to discredit claims of the Bush Administration that Iraq possessed any WMD based upon his own investigation conducted at the behest of the CIA. Rove and other administration sources had a motive to discredit Ambassador Wilson's claims since they undermined the Administration's rationale, in part, for going to war with Iraq.

The leak of Plame's identity became a political and legal hot potato. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft quickly handed off the investigation to Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been conducting an independent investigation for nearly two years to determine whether someone had violated federal law. To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent's identity. Fitzgerald has already called Rove before the grand jury to testify. Reporters who relied on Rove and others as sources have been threatened with jail if they refuse to cooperate in the investigation. The New York Times' Judith Miller has chosen jail rather than reveal her sources, even though she never wrote a story about Plame.

With the disclosure of Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper's e-mail communications we now learn that Rove indeed played a central role in the disclosure of Plame's identity as reported by the Washington Post. Newsweek magazine obtained a copy of Cooper's e-mails turned over to the federal grand jury investigating the leak of Plame's identity. Newsweek reported that Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Aha--the smoking gun? Not quite. Remember, Rove said, "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name." Sound familiar? It turns out Rove was using Clintonspeak. Remember, "I didn't have sexual relations with that woman." But Rove knew exactly what he was doing. He didn't need to provide the reporter her name. Any reporter worth his or her salt could easily track down her identity, and Rove knew full well that would happen.

As a consequence of this political hack's actions while on the public payroll, taxpayers are now footing the bill for a costly, drawn out investigation that could have been swiftly dealt with by the President two years ago by firing the person responsible as his father did fifteen years ago. As the Houston Chronicle reported in a November 7, 2003 article, Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Novak, the very same reporter involved in the Plame affair. Novak's piece described a meeting organized by then-Senator Phil Gramm at which Mosbacher was relieved of his duties as state campaign manager because "the president's re-election effort in Texas has been a bust." Rove was fired after Mosbacher, a close friend of the senior Bush, fingered him as Novak's source."

Notwithstanding his father's firing of Rove, George W. hired Rove to work on his successful 1994 campaign for Texas governor. To aid in his defeat of incumbent Governor Ann Richards, Rove engineered a whispering campaign questioning Richard's strong ties to the Austin gay community according to a report by Tim Grieve in Rolling Stone magazine. Rove used surrogates to criticize Richards for appointing openly gay persons to positions in state government, while others spread rumors that Richards was a lesbian according to the report. The whispering campaign helped Bush pull a complete upset over Richards, who polls had consistently showed had favorable job approval ratings leading up to the election.

Six years later, Bush once again hired Rove to work on his 2000 presidential campaign. Fearful of losing to Senator John McCain in the primaries, Rove resorted to his old dirty tricks to turn the tide in his candidate's favor. Grieve's account in Rolling Stone described the following events: "In the days before the South Carolina primary, word spread that McCain was mentally unstable, that he had 'sired' an illegitimate black child, that his wife had a drug problem. After McCain met with a group of gay Republicans, somebody sent an anonymous letter about the meeting to state legislators who had endorsed him. Others distributed a flier calling McCain the 'fag candidate.' McCain lost South Carolina, and his campaign never recovered. 'A day in the McCain campaign looked like a day at NORAD watching missiles coming across the screen,' says Trey Walker, who served as McCain's national field director. 'We had a thousand missiles coming in every day.' Rove had once again won the day for Bush using every dirty trick in the play book this time.

Flash forward four years when Bush is facing re-election against Massuchusetts' Senator John Kerry. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has just issued its landmark decision legalizing gay marriages. Rove sees red meat and springs into action. President Bush calls for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages. Rove begins coordinating the campaign against gay marriage with Christian organizations across the country, including the critically important state of Ohio which would have a ballot measure calling for a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages. As Fox News reported during the campaign: "Gay marriage is a wedge issue that many voters care about, and for some heading to the polls on Nov. 2, it is the key issue. If the election is decided by a razor-thin margin, the candidates' stark differences on gay marriage could be the reason for victory or defeat."

In a Los Angeles Times editorial following the vote, Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans charged that Bush's stance is part of a calculation by presidential adviser Karl Rove that "4 million evangelicals stayed home in 2000. As a result, the 2004 campaign has focused on energizing the far right while ignoring mainstream Republicans." Once again Rove wins the day using his old reliable gay bashing techniques that he has by now refined to a fine art.

While mainstream media have focused on Rove's involvement in the Valerie Plame affair, bloggers have been hard at work uncovering Rove's ties to the now-discredited former Talon News Service White House reporter, Jeff Gannon. Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, had no prior news experience before landing a daily job as a highly coveted White House reporter. As the American Blog reported, he did, however, have a career as an operator of gay porn sites and as a high-paid gay prostitute in D.C. The Talon News Service is owned by a Republican Texas businessman with close ties to Rove. Bobby Eberle, founder of Talon News, told The New York Times that he created Talon to build a news service with a conservative slant and "if someone were to see 'GOPUSA,' there's an instant built-in bias there."

Guckert, who was unable to obtain security clearance for a press pass as other White House reporters, instead relied upon daily passes from a Bush insider to cover the White House. This allowed Guckert close access to the President and other high ranking officials in the administration. Guckert was even able to occasionally be called on for a question by the President by name during press conferences! Rove claims he barely knew Guckert, but as CBS News' Dotty Lynch observed: "Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius." Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon. " Why would the biggest gay basher in American political history want a former, gay prostitute at the White House? Are we to believe Karl Rove didn't know who Guckert really was? Do we want to know?

Karl Rove has been hailed as the smartest political operative in the country. No doubt pundits thought similarly of D.C. Stephenson in the 1920s when he succeeded in gaining near total control of Indiana government using his KKK organization to foment hatred and bigotry towards the State's minorities. But just as D.C. Stephenson had to go, so must Karl Rove. His political expediency can never be a substitute for intelligent and civil discourse that moves our nation forward rather than backwards. The harm his wedge issue politics has done to gay and lesbian Americans cannot be understated. The sooner President Bush tells Rove to hit the road, the sooner our nation can enter a new political era of understanding and tolerance. President Bush owes his country and his Republican Party no less.

No comments: