There may have been a time when Republicans put truth and the rule of law ahead of partisan politics. It was the Republican Senator Lowell P. Weicker who helped to uncover the Watergate cover-up and voted for Watergate hearings. It was Weicker, to the sound of thunderous bipartisan applause in the Senate hearing room who declared, "Let me make it clear, Republicans do not cover-up; Republicans do not go ahead and threaten; Republicans do not go ahead and commit illegal acts; and God knows Republicans don 't view their fellow Americans as enemies to be harassed. "
But it 's becoming exceedingly apparent that time is past. Despite previous denials of White House involvement, in the face of factual revelations that Karl Rove indeed was a source of the information identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, the Republican spin machine has gone on the attack. Led by Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ken Mehlman, the RNC is aggressively pushing talking points denying Karl Rove 's culpability, criticizing the news media, attacking Joseph Wilson and blaming the Democrats. My guess is that the next thing Ken Mehlman will say is that it was Bill Clinton who made the call to Matt Cooper.
And their surrogates are pushing the story. I hope Fox News saved some money last night and sent their news writers home. They already had the RNC talking points.
But the Republican spin machine is showing signs of spinning out of control. According to a transcript of MSNBC 's "Scarborough Country," published by Editor and Publisher, during a conversation between host Joe Scarborough and Republican Congressman Peter King about Rove, King said " I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove. " He went on to say that Republicans "should be out attacking Joe Wilson. "
Where is Lowell Weicker when you need him?
While I am aware that certain leaders of the Republican party have come to believe that they can invent their own "reality, " more rational leaders might want to consider that the revelations about Rove are not the result of a partisan attack by Democrats, but rather the result of a federal Department of Justice investigation of a federal crime. And that it is the Republican-led White House who is on record as saying that Karl Rove and other senior White House officials were not involved, and that if any White House personnel were found to be involved, they would be fired.
Republican leaders, such as Orrin Hatch, who told the Washington Post that the focus on Rove 's involvement is "a tempest in a teapot ", are trying to convince the American people that "RoveGate " is little more than a partisan battle between Democrats and Republicans.
But spin it as they may, the reality is that it is the result of a federal investigation of a federal crime that occurred in the context of an effort to disparage an American citizen who dared to question the manipulation of national intelligence by the Bush Administration in order to justify the War in Iraq. This obstinate push by Republicans to put partisan interests ahead of the law should raise serious concerns among the American people, not just about Karl Rove, but about the elected leadership of the Republican Party.
As for me, I wonder if there is a Republican leader out there who believes in the rule of law. Is there a Republican willing to hold Karl Rove accountable for what appears to be a best a serious ethical violation, if not an outright federal crime? Unfortunately, it doesn't appear there is.
John McDonald is a writer and consultant in Los Angeles