There's a possible criminal charge looming.Rove's sleazy political tactics are well documented. But I think he's always relied on the "journalistic ethics" of "anonymous sources" to give him "plausible deniability." But now he's run up against a criminal investigation, something Mr. Rove has never had to dodge before. And he's finding out it isn't that easy to do.
· There's a credibility issue based on all the denials that Rove was involved in any way with the Plame case.
· And there's the context in which this took place: Rove, after all, was attacking a report by Wilson that cast doubt on the administration's case against Saddam Hussein's quest for weapons of mass destruction. The White House was at the time desperately -- and effectively -- waving the media away from any doubts about Bush's rationale for war. But Wilson was ultimately proven right on the issue of WMD, and the White House was ultimately proven wrong.
And, as Froomkin points out, Rove's lawyer now says Rove is a "subject" of the grand jury's inquiry. Which means he's almost a "target."
Can the White House even distract attention away from this? Not if the White House Press Corps won't play along.
But this brings us back to a question of jurisprudence, and a question of political science: are we a government of laws, or of humans? Do we rule, or are we ruled? How much does our democracy depend on what we say and do, and how much of it is, for want of a better term, "natural"? Because the American public seems to think self-governance is nearly a state of nature; or, at least, American nature.
Bouphonia started me thinking about that question. We'll have to come back to it soon.