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A Lingering Whiff of Political Opportunism
Democratic Outrage with Rove Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/18/05

Last week, the United States of America (and the Bush Administration) enjoyed a trifecta of good news – on the foreign, economic and domestic fronts. A poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, found that public support for Osama bin Laden and terrorist violence had fallen dramatically in several Islamic countries. With tax revenues rolling in far above estimates, the budget deficit is now projected to be $94 billion less than projected just last February. And it was announced America’s nine year olds last year earned the best scores in reading and math than they had received in over thirty years – with the achievement gaps between racial groups having narrowed appreciably.

Carol Platt Liebau - Senior

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at [go to Liebau index]

Chances are that fewer Americans learned this good news than should have, because the press was too busy “reporting” on the Karl Rove affair – focusing on a man who didn’t name the woman who wasn’t a covert agent in the first place. And the press’ zeal has been exceeded only by that of the Democrats.

Seemingly determined to exact revenge upon the man that some have called “Bush’s brain,” Democrats have gathered en masse to call for Rove’s firing, resignation, or – at the very least – the suspension of his security clearance. Certainly, politics is a contact sport, and so it’s perhaps to be expected that the Democrats would try to find any plausible reason to sideline one of the other team’s MVPs. (Some Democrats would argue that it was the Republicans’ primary strategy against Bill Clinton in the 1990’s, although he certainly gave his adversaries plenty of help).

But absent an indictment or other serious legal problem for a prominent Republican, it is likely that the Democrats’ gambit will fail. Among the many reasons is this: The Democrats’ over-the-top indignation about the supposed “outing” of a CIA agent just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Of course, there are some Democrats who are longstanding supporters of the agency, and having believed the most serious charges leveled against Karl Rove, are truly outraged. But for the most part, the entire scandal has the whiff of manufactured controversy. For many Democrats, professing an overwhelming concern for CIA secrecy is like a lot of Republicans shrieking in fury because someone didn’t obtain all the government benefits for which he was eligible. The rage could be genuine, but it doesn’t exactly comport with long-standing public perceptions of the party’s priorities.

After all, it was in President Clinton’s Pentagon that Morton Halperin was chosen to serve as assistant secretary dealing with democracy and human rights. That’s the same Morton Halperin who openly championed Philip Agee, the man who “outed” CIA agents all over world (and whose nefarious activities prompted the drafting of the law at the center of the Rove controversy). It was then-Representative Robert Toricelli (D-NJ) who admitted that he violated his oath of secrecy as a House Intelligence Committee member to reveal information about allegations of CIA involvement in the murder of a Guatemalan revolutionary. And it was Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who resigned as vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after leaking classified information to a reporter.

Given this history (and more) it’s going to be hard to convince a critical mass of the American people – absent an indictment or other serious legal consequences – that the Democrats’ new-found disdain for leaking and respect for classified information is anything but political opportunism. This impression is only reinforced by the fact that every new revelation so far suggests that no laws have been broken by Rove or any other Administration official.

Perhaps that’s the fourth piece of recent good news for the Bush Administration. tOR

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and theOneRepublic / editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at

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