Not Defense Enough: Parsing Words on What Karl Rove Said


President Bush, when he was running against Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race, said that he would run his office honorably, with humility. He said that he was going to be “straight” with the American people — and wouldn’t parse words and meanings like his predecessor was known to do.
However, many are now suggesting that Bush only stated he would fire a person in his White House if that person mentioned Plame’s name. If Rove conveyed information on Valerie Plame’s CIA identity without mentioning her name, then some argue that Bush has an out.
From David Sanger’s piece in the New York Times today:

But until this week, it was Mr. Wilson’s word against the White House’s insistence that Mr. Rove was not involved. That is what has changed. An e-mail message that Time magazine turned over to the prosecutor investigating the naming of Ms. Wilson asserts that Mr. Rove discussed Ms. Wilson’s role, though apparently without naming her or suggesting she was a covert officer. If that version is correct, it is not clear that anything Mr. Rove said could be considered a crime.
It could also save his job. Mr. Bush was asked in June 2004 whether he would fire anyone who leaked Ms. Wilson’s name. Without hesitation, he said “yes.” But if Ms. Wilson was discussed – but not named – current and former White House officials say Mr. Bush may not feel he is violating his pledge by keeping the political engineer who, as deputy chief of staff, is now formulating much of the domestic policy agenda of Mr. Bush’s second term.
In the end, a former official and others said, Mr. Rove’s fate at the White House is tied to the investigation by the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.
But those who know Mr. Bush say that sticking with his old friend would be completely consistent with his personality.

Clearly, parsing words is back in style in the White House. Maybe the Bush team has been parsing all along. . .but just pretending not to.
Joe Wilson and his wife deserve our respect and support for fighting this White House for so long — particularly after the White House so emphatically insisted that Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Elliot Abrams were uninvolved with the leak.
The White House sought to slaughter Wilson’s credibility — and now Bush’s team must pay the price for profound duplicity and dishonesty.
— Steve Clemons