OK, don't take this too seriously -- I'm not sure I believe it myself. Maybe it's not even theoretically possible. But here goes.
When I read the Washington Post article about Karl Rove this morning, my first thought was: Who benefits from this? Who benefits from telling the Post that there's debate in the White House about whether Rove is a liability? At National Review's Corner, John Podhoretz provided an answer:
...The essence of the story is that Karl Rove needs to go because he's made life difficult for [Scott] McClellan. You have to figure, therefore, that the story was leaked or sanctioned by McClellan, a fact that is telegraphed clumsily by a series of pro-McClellan sentences....
But surely McClellan knows -- hell, thousands of people who don't work in the White House know -- that Bush administration hates damaging leaks. So why would McClellan blab, or urge others to blab, when he could be so easily fingered as the source of the blabbing?
So I'm asking myself, half-seriously: Is Rove behind this story?
Recall this classic dirty trick from one of Rove's early campaigns:
Think back to the eve of the '86 Texas gubernatorial race debates, when Bill Clements was in free fall in the polls against Mark White, and suddenly the media's attention was yanked away from the debate and diverted to news that Clements campaign consultant Rove's office had been bugged. The Houston Post's Glenn Smith immediately smelled a rat and suspected that Rove had bugged his own office and had called in the FBI.... White lost the election.
In that case, Rove committed a transgression against himself and got his nemesis blamed for it. That's what I'm saying might have happened here -- Rove encouraged "mid-level staffers" and others to speak in McClellan's defense and say what a liability Rove is -- knowing what Bush's reaction would be.
As Podhoretz says:
The thing is that Bush hates such things. The other thing is that press secretary Scott McClellan's messy fingerprints are all over the WaPo story, as even Bush will be able to see.
Yup. Bush will blow his stack. Bush will blame Scotty. And Rove's status will improve significantly.
Just a cockamamie theory.