I have to say I continue to find Rovegate exhausting -- and I'm reluctant to write about it because dozens of bloggers are much more up on the details than I am, so I fear I'm going to look like an idiot. Nevertheless, here goes. Apologies in advance for anything that's embarrassingly dumb.
The current Big Story is here, from Bloomberg News; it says that a State Department memo ID'ing Plame as Wilson's wife was being read by Ari Fleischer the day before Robert Novak spoke to Rove about Plame -- and that Rove placed a call to Fleischer that day, i.e., before he spoke to Novak (although it's not clear that Rove and Fleischer actually spoke).
The question that keeps coming to my mind is this: Is it possible that the Rove administration really doesn't consider Bush indispensable?
I ask because a number of the recent leaks cast the administration in a bad light. This is one example -- it suggests that the president's press secretary could have had something to do with revealing Plame's identity. But virtually all the recent leaks are good for Rove: They sow confusion about his role and would be extremely helpful if he were brought to trial.
The Rove alibi machine is working at maximum efficiency. Some of this is the White House/GOP message operation, but quite a bit of it is the leaks. Plame wasn't undercover. Plame was already known to be a CIA agent. It was Cooper who revealed Plame's identity to Rove. Rove discussed the identity with Cooper, but never mentioned the name. Rove revealed the identity, but as a way of warning journalists off a bad story. Colin Powell might have been the leaker. Fleischer might have been the leaker.
Sure, people who are following this closely and are Bush skeptics can swat a lot of these down. But well-versed Bush skeptics aren't going to be on a Karl Rove jury -- and the people who are will start the trial having heard so many counter-narratives that they'll never vote for guilt beyond a reasonbable doubt.
Obviously Rove would have a well-oiled machine up and running to keep himself out of jail -- but you'd think Priority #1 for a presidential courtier would be protecting the president from scandal and from damage to his administration's public image. Instead, the top priority seems to be keeping Rove out of the hoosegow, while the administration just looks sleazier and sleazier. Strange.
(From the Bloomberg article: "Rove's defenders say the recent revelations in the case -- some of which have emanated from his camp -- serve to exonerate rather than implicate him.")