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From Mark Felt to Karl Rove

"Well, of course, Karl Rove did it. He may not have violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, with its high threshold of criminality for outing a covert agent, but there's no doubt he trashed Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame. We know this not only because of Matt Cooper's e-mail, but also because of Mr. Rove's own history. Trashing is in his nature, and bad things happen, usually through under-the-radar whispers, to decent people (and their wives) who get in his way. In the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain's wife, Cindy, was rumored to be a drug addict (and Senator McCain was rumored to be mentally unstable). In the 1994 Texas governor's race, Ann Richards found herself rumored to be a lesbian. The implication that Mr. Wilson was a John Kerry-ish girlie man beholden to his wife for his meal ticket is of a thematic piece with previous mud splattered on Rove political adversaries. The difference is that this time Mr. Rove got caught."

Rove does have a long history, but there is no clear evidence tying him to the two other disgraceful smears Rich cites.

In National Review, John Podhoretz pours cold water on the story after the NYT says Novak mentioned Plame to Rove and that Rove confirmed it:

"This surely qualifies as one of the 'hey, big whoop' stories of all time. And I am not saying this because I am some partisan gunslinger. Simple fairness says that an official called by a journalist who volunteers a piece of gossip and then responds, 'I heard that too,' is not retailing a piece of incendiary information intended to destroy lives and place CIA assets in harm's way."And I'm going to be blunt here. Anybody who says different has an agenda that has nothing whatever to do with Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, or much of anything else besides doing damage to the Bush administration and character-assassinating Karl Rove."

John Hinderaker of Power Line is troubled by the direction of the Supreme Court debate:

"Ideas have consequences, as we often say, and I'm afraid that the idea that President Bush should consult with the Senate -- or with anyone at all -- about his Supreme Court nominations could get out of hand. I assume that Bush's meetings with key Senators were intended to be cosmetic, and were considered harmless. I'm not so sure that will turn out to be true. Everyone seems to be getting into the free advice business, even Laura Bush, who publicly said that she thought her husband should appoint a woman.

"Thursday's USA Today . . . contains evidence that the whole consultation thing may have gotten out of hand, in a report on a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll that is subtitled: 'Preferred in poll: A Hispanic woman who wouldn't alter Roe v. Wade.'. . . .

"President Bush opened himself up to the pressure by encouraging input and, to some degree, carrying out his deliberations in public.

"The poll results contain something for everyone. An astonishing 86% of respondents said that the Senate Democrats are 'likely to try to block Bush's nominee for inappropriate political reasons.' On the other hand, nearly two-thirds said that Bush is 'likely to appoint someone who would let religious beliefs inappropriately influence legal decisions.' . . . These numbers are consistent with what seems to be an emerging trend: the Democrats' vicious and unprincipled attacks on the President do, indeed, have an impact; but they hurt the Democrats even more than the Republicans."

The Boston Globe looks at its home-state senator and concludes that the upcoming court fight may not be perfectly suited to Ted:

"Even as Kennedy pounds the lectern, there is an awareness throughout the Capitol that this may not be the moment for a vintage Kennedy liberal crusade. There are now only 44 Democratic senators -- the low point in Kennedy's 42-year Senate career -- and Republicans are poised to lob charges of obstructionism if the party is too quick to oppose Bush's pick . . .

"Some grass-roots Democrats worry that a Kennedy-led protest over issues like abortion and gay rights could sink the party in many corners of the country.

"In recognition of these changed circumstances, there has been a different tone to Kennedy's public comments and his behind-the-scenes preparations. The senator who ripped into Bork within an hour of his nomination in 1987 -- describing the 'back-alley abortions' and 'segregated lunch counters' of 'Robert Bork's America' -- is saying that this time, he's unlikely to take a public position on the nominee until his or her record is vetted by the Judiciary Committee."

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