Corn, Marshall on Rove/Plame. And I See an Elephant.

While the rest of the pack is off yammering on the trail of Justice-to-be John Roberts, David Corn continues to wonder about the possibility of a Karl Rove (and Scooter Libby) frogmarch: A conspiracy charge for the White House?

Meanwhile, Joshua Micah Marshall has this item: Ever wonder why… It covers some really interesting material in a recent New York Times article (For two aides in leak case, 2nd issue rises) that suggests that Rove and Libby basically wrote George Tenet’s falling-on-his-sword statement, when he took credit for Bush’s 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address:

WASHINGTON, July 21 – At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative’s identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa.

The two issues had become inextricably linked because Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of the unmasked C.I.A. officer, had questioned Mr. Bush’s assertion, prompting a damage-control effort by the White House that included challenging Mr. Wilson’s standing and his credentials. A federal grand jury investigation is under way by a special counsel to determine whether someone illegally leaked the officer’s identity and possibly into whether perjury or obstruction of justice occurred during the inquiry.

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration’s primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush’s State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president’s political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

You know, you see a writhing trunk snake by, feel the whisk of a tail brushing past you, lean up against a tree trunk of a leg, and at a certain point it stops being all those things, and becomes an elephant.

I know I talk a lot of trash about Bush. I was pretty much a hater from day one. But during all my complaining during the run-up to war, I didn’t really know what was going on. I had an ideological and philosophical perspective that screamed out at me that what was happening was wrong, and I talked about it, but there were big elements of faith in what I was saying. I was seeing the trunk and the tail and the rest, and going on and on about the elephant that I truly believed was there, but I didn’t see it.

Now I see it. And yeah, it’s an elephant.

Or let’s trot out another metaphor. It’s like when you free-fuse those 3D stereograms, and you’re squinting, and your head is hurting, and you’re catching little pieces of it; you can see that there’s something poking out here, and there’s something weird going on over there. And then bam, you’re staring at an F-16.

That’s me with the Bush administration in these last few days. I get it now. And yeah, it’s mostly what I’ve been saying it was all along, but now it’s not just me being paranoid. It’s right there, in the open.

Bush and Rove are of a piece. Their total focus is spinning reality. It’s about getting power, and keeping power, and lying isn’t just an occasional means to that end; it’s the thread they twist to make the yarn, the loom they use to weave it, and the finished fabric they drape over the real world to create the false world they’re selling. And yeah, all politicians do the same thing, but they’ve taken it further.

They operate in a zone of perpetual suspension of disbelief. They’re willing to tell any lie, violate any norm. For them, it’s basically a game of chicken, a contest to see who can be the most ruthless, the most audacious, and they’ve made it as far as they have by taking that to its logical conclusion.

You want to go to war? Whip up some evidence and go for it. You need to burn a CIA agent to neutralize an opponent? Do it. The Iraq war justification was their biggest piece of spin to date, and they totally pulled it off; they planned it and executed it with a coordination and attention to detail that’s really quite breathtaking. But it’s all bullshit, and it has become more and more frayed as time goes on. And now, with the Fitzgerald investigation, it’s threatening to come completely unraveled.

Rovebush (Bushrove?) operate in a realm where truth has no meaning, no power. They are the masters of that realm, the gods of that realm, and they have steadily amassed an army of fellow conspirators who will say whatever they tell them to say, as often as they need them to say it. I’m sure they believe they can convince pretty much anyone of anything.

But Fitzgerald doesn’t operate in that realm. He operates in the legal realm, which is all about truth. If this gets to court, the Rovebush side will spin, sure, but it won’t be the asymmetrical warfare they normally practice. There will be rules, and the other side will get equal time, and the truth, if sufficiently clear, will trump their spin.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the elephant. It may end up standing out in the middle of the circus tent with the spotlight on it while the crowd gasps in shock. Or it may slip off through an opening in the tent and disappear from view. I still don’t know about that part.

But I know what I see.

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