About two weeks ago I saw Joe Wilson speak at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, and Wilson’s talk also made salient a issue which has been ruminating around in my mind for some time now. Over the last six years of the Bush administration, time and time again, we have observed the same pattern of character assassination by Karl Rove’s political machine whenever someone in the public eye disagrees with the Bush agenda. Wilson, for example, was attacked after he wrote his well known New York Times op-ed debunking the phony Iraq-Nigerian nuclear materials transfer that the Bushies wanted to trumpet as part of their case for going to war in Iraq. We saw the same thing happen to Scott Ritter before the Iraq war, and now again with Sheryl Crowe’s encounter with Rove at the Washington Correspondents Association Dinner.
Only with Wilson and Plame did we see it backfire–with the end-result a criminal conviction of Scooter Libby for perjury for his role in the cover-up operation–and it only backfired there because, as Wilson put it, in the Wilson-Plame case the Bushies committed treason by exposing a covert CIA agent. But that makes me think–what of all of the other cases of character assassination? What about what happened to Natalie Means of the country music group the Dixie Chicks? To Sean Penn? To Representative John Murtha? To former Sen. Max Cleland? To Senator James Webb? To Scott Ritter? To John Brady Kiesling? To Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her Syria visit? To dead-soldier mom Cindy Sheehan? The swift-boating of Sen. John Kerry? How about the administration’s attempts to muzzle James Hansen for speaking out about global warming? And why did all the stories about Sheryl Crowe and using one square of tp per visit hit the airwaves right at the same time she told Rove that he works for the American people and not just for Bush?
My point is that there has been a series of these sort of character assassinations, carried out by the administration’s willing toadies at Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting group, Clear Channel corporation and other media megaphones. I’ve been toying the idea of creating a web site dedicated to documenting Rove and the art of character assassination, though there are probably already others out there. If anyone has any thoughts or other examples to contribute, please post them here.
Anyway, Rove was right about one thing during his encounter with Sheryl Crowe–Karl Rove works for G.W. Bush and NOT for the American people. As John Bolton recently told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, Bolton believes he and the other members of this administration work for Bush and that segment of the American people who voted for Bush, not for all of us. I don’t recall that limitation being in the oath of office that all U.S. public servants are supposed to take. In fact, I believe the oath implies precisely the opposite, in that public servants swear to uphold the American Constitution, and that implies that they must serve the American people in their entirety. Why? Because the constitution reposes the final decision-making power in the American people, not a group of Washington elites. But Bolton, Rove, Gonzalez, Bolton, Hadley, Abrams, Wolfowitz and their ilk among Bush’s chorus of yes-men pretend otherwise, serving their president with a blind allegiance that is wholly detached from reality. And in doing so, they do a disservice not just to their oath of office, but to the American people.