Whatever Rove Did, Truth Will Take a Backseat
Karl Rove might be the White House staffer who illegally revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. While there is currently only the slimmest of evidence that this might be true, just the suggestion that Rove was involved ensures that truth will be bludgeoned as this plays out in the public sphere.
The left already thinks Rove is a despicable human being and will believe this rumor to be full truth—any evidence that Rove wasn’t involved will be treated as intentional obfuscation and further proof that the Bush administration is dangerously deceptive. The right, on the other hand, has every reason to want to keep Rove out of jail and will thus portray this story as evidence of deep set media bias and just one more unhinged and unpatriotic attempt by the left to bring down the Bush White House.
As for me, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rove was involved—I’ve never found political consultants of any stripe to be particularly ethical. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t involved or if there is not enough evidence to indict. The fact of the matter is, while it was illegal to reveal that Valerie Plame was an undercover agent, that revelation didn’t cause her to be obviously harmed. And while, from a legal standpoint, it shouldn’t matter if she was harmed or not, it will matter in how this plays out among most Americans.
Unfortunately, prevailing opinion might be "no harm, no foul" and this could lead the story to gain little traction, particularly since it will be overshadowed by the Supreme Court battle. Outing an undercover agent does in fact create harm, most often harm the public never hears about because such operations are highly secretive. There is no excuse for what was done to Ms. Plame and the culprit who revealed her identity should be punished. But there hasn't been an uprising in public interest in this case, and even with Rove's name being thrown around, there still might be too little attention paid to it.
I could be wrong. But if it does get plenty of attention, don’t expect plenty of truth from the pundits and partisans. Neither side will have much interest in that.