Tuesday, July 12, 2005

PRISONER'S DILEMMA I stand by what I said yesterday about Karl Rove's future at the White House: I think he'll eventually have to be let go. Keeping him on will become politically untenable.

But it's clearer to me than ever that this is going to be an incredibly difficult thing for President Bush to do. Two points:

1. Karl Rove has known the Bushes since the early 1970s. He was the architect of George W. Bush's transformation from Bush family black sheep to viable presidential candidate. And then he got Bush elected.

What's more, as former Bush advisor John DiIulio tells us:

Karl is enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political adviser post near the Oval Office
Add to this the fact that loyalty is a fetish with Bush, and it's clear that the President is facing a real dilemma: Abandon the man who built his career, or face a huge, credibility-sapping political storm.

2. This story will be a real test of the elite, mainstream media. It's the first clear cut, five-alarm scandal since the rise of blogs and Fox News--in other words, since the outlets with the big megaphones lost their monopoly on the national conversation.

And the key information here--divided among a famously tight-lipped White House, a virtually leak-proof special prosecutor, and the Washington press corps itself--is beyond the reach of the kind of "open source" reporting we've seen on Power Line blog (the National Guard memo story) and DailyKos (the Jeff Gannon revelations) in the last couple of years. So this story is unlikely to gather true steam without knowledgeable reporters tapping high-level sources and doing no-nonsense, investigative journalism.

Are well-fed, mainstream journalists up to this challenge? Does the "old media" still know how to document a complicated case of abuse of power and get it to capture the attention of the public?

Time will tell.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.