By now you've probably seen this:
Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th hour testimony in the case of a CIA officer's leaked identity but have warned they cannot guarantee he won't be indicted, according to people directly familiar with the investigation....
I think that explains this curious Washington Times story, which preceded it:
Senior Bush adviser Karl Rove was "very involved" in President Bush's Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, who was selected in part because she has no judicial track record, according to a Republican with close ties to the administration.
"We know that Rove was very involved in the process, and he's certainly well tuned in to the Hill and how it works," said GOP strategist Charlie Black....
I assume the Times story ran in order to assure the paper's GOP audience that, yes, dammit, Rove is still on the job -- he's not working full-time on keeping himself out of jail, thus leaving Bush utterly rudderless, as I'm sure many of the paper's readers suspect.
Alas for those readers, I think the Times story is a smokescreen, and their suspicions are correct.
Also see this AMERICAblog post:
I just talked to a source who told me that Karl Rove has been missing from a number of recent White House presidential events - events that he has ALWAYS attended in the past. For example, Rove was absent from yesterday's presidential press conference to promote Harriet Miers. These are the kind of events Rove ALWAYS attends, I'm told, yet of late he's been MIA each and every time.
My source tells me that the scuttlebutt around town is that the White House knows something bad is coming, in terms of Karl getting indicted, and they're already trying to distance him from the president.
Are they trying to distance him from the president? Or are they just giving him leave to work on keeping his ass out of the penitentiary?
Rove's absence from day-to-day combat would certainly explain the Harriet Miers screw-up. Listen to James Moore, co-author of Bush's Brain, speaking in 2003:
... all of the messages that the White House sends in the way the White House governs is to that base Republican core that Karl believes is the foundation of the Republican Party and its future, and its hope for election in 2004.
By design, they have no enemies on the right. And they'll take them on the left, but there are none on the right. And that's precisely what Karl chooses to do.
I just can't believe Rove would have allowed Miers to be chosen unless he was certain the choice would make no enemies on the right. So, yeah, I think he's effectively on leave.
UPDATE: Obviously, when I wrote this I was overlooking Karl Rove's breiefing of James Dobson on the Miers nomination. But I still think he wasn't a full-time participant in the decision-making process.