The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.
That's the big revelation in a blockbuster story in today's NY Daily News. The immediate implication of this news?

--All those times Bush told people he had no idea and that he'd "get to the bottom" of all this? Bullplop.

--That time Scott McClellan told the press that Rove and Libby weren't involved? Well, that was bullplop already, but now it's bullplop with a Presidential seal of bullplop approval.

The one mitigating factor for Bush defenders in all of this, is that the lede suggests that Bush was indignant about the leak itself, meaning he wasn't involved in the committing of a crime. Yet further down in the story, we see this:
Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
(Emphases mine) Hmm. Sounds more like Bush was upset about them getting caught. Remember that for a few months in 2003, the investigation of the leak was in-house, essentially run by John Ashcroft, and none of these guys were furious at each other.

The article came up in today's McClellan briefing, with hilarious results:
QUESTION: Scott, is it true that the President --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Welcome back.

QUESTION: Thanks. Is it true that the President slapped Karl Rove upside the head a couple of years ago over the CIA leak?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account.

QUESTION: That's a comment.

QUESTION: Which part of it?

QUESTION: Yes, that is.

QUESTION: Which facts --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I'm just saying -- no, I'm just trying to help you all.

QUESTION: So what facts are you challenging?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: You can't say you're challenging the facts and then not say which ones you're challenging.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, I can. I just did. (Laughter.)
Watch me!

(see also Josh Marshall's discussion of the name in the article's byline)

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