Morning Report 11/3/05
Cracking Another Yegg

Rove's shell game is so fragile that a break has to be near

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Harkavy; White House; bygosh.com

Bust a rhyme: You can replace a Scooter, but all the vice president's men couldn't put Rove back together again

I have to take issue with the Oxford English Dictionary. One of its definitions of "rove" as a noun is this:

    A scab; the scaly crust of a healed or healing wound.

Yes, Karl Rove is scabby and scaly, but where's this "healing"? His entire life is devoted to playing average Americans for suckers by keeping them divided, unhealed, and unaware of their common interest against the plutocrats and theocrats of the Bush regime.

It's clear that the indictment of Scooter Libby hasn't started any healing. For one thing, U.S. CEO Dick Cheney has hunkered down in his bunker, sending trusted aide David Addington to the surface to replace Libby and fight the fallout.

And any healing won't start until Rove joins Libby and partially extinguished Christian statesman Tom DeLay on the injured reserve list. That won't stop them from trying to build an imperial presidency and a permanently GOP Congress, but it will slow them down.

What's keeping Pat Fitzgerald? While we're drumming our fingers and checking his website, we might as well bitch-slap Rove a bit to soften him up. But Howard Kurtz isn't helping matters any. The Washington Post press critic, who I think still has a TV show, too (I try not to watch the talk shows ever), gets a lot of things right, but he sometimes stubs his toe.

Kurtz must watch too many of these talk shows. His Halloween column, carrying the wussy-washy headline "Scandal Overkill?," is a perfect example. All the pundits got to weigh in on the matter of Rove v. World. As Kurtz noted:

    The drumbeat of media speculation was so loud last week that at times it sounded as though Karl Rove was on the verge of being thrown in the slammer.

OK, that was a reasonable observation, but Kurtz quickly stepped in something foul:

    So when Rove was not indicted in the CIA leak case Friday [October 28], it almost seemed like a victory for the White House. But it was clearly not a victory for the reporters and commentators who climbed far out on the limb of handicapping what a special prosecutor operating in secret might do.

    Now that an indictment has reached the highest level of the White House for the first time since Watergate, journalists face a minefield of potentially explosive questions: Are they enjoying a bit too much the spectacle of Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, having to resign over the perjury and obstruction of justice charges? What happened to the normal journalistic skepticism toward a single-minded special prosecutor, as was on display when Ken Starr was pursuing Bill Clinton?

Please. Journalists who think in terms of such wins and losses (outside of sports arenas) are losers. Besides, there's no comparison. Starr was a known partisan before he started investigating Clinton. Fitzgerald seems to be relentlessly nonpartisan. And the manipulation of a country into a tragic war and unconscionable tax cuts for the rich is slightly more important than the de-pantsing of a president.

I mean, you can't compare what Monica Lewinsky swallowed from Bill Clinton to what 300 million Americans have been forced to swallow from George W. Bush.

As to what people should do with what dribbles out of journalists (me included), well, there's a risk there, too. Even from veterans like Kurtz, whose recent reasoning powers on the New Times chain's takeover of the Village Voice chain made me snicker.

His October 24 story on the deal, which is structured as a merger but looks like a takeover to me, because New Times reportedly gets control of 62 percent of the equity and a 5-4 edge on the board, noted this:

    In terms of sheer feistiness, the papers may not be that far apart. A Voice writer recently slammed President Bush's "cluster of neocons and religious nuts and military industrialists," adding: "We need to investigate Wampumgate, Kazakhgate, the oil-for-slush scandal, Plamegate, and all the rest — we need to do it for the sake of our own democracy."

    Phoenix New Times, meanwhile, was calling the Maricopa County sheriff "a modern-day J. Edgar Hoover . . . without the penchant for women's underwear" and accusing local media outlets of the journalistic equivalent of sexually servicing him.

I suppose that feistiness is better than fustiness, but that kind of glib patter is apparently what a mainstream media guy like Kurtz sees as "sheer feistiness." I told you, he watches too many talk shows.

In any case, Kurtz surely knew that the Voice writer whose work he quoted from was me (from an October 14 Bush Beat item). But he must not have known that I worked at New Times papers as an editor/writer for 12 and a half years, six and a half at the mothership in Phoenix and then six more years at Westword in Denver.

Gee, no wonder it seemed to Kurtz that the two chains' "sheer feistiness … may not be that far apart."

And I guffawed when Kurtz quoted a piece by the San Francisco Bay Guardian opining that New Times would export its "desert libertarianism on the rocks, with sprigs of neocon politics."

No one can know for sure what the Voice will look like under new ownership, but I have to ask: Do I look like a friggin' neocon?



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