…Even if she was safe in Washington when the identity of her employer was given out, it does not mean that her outing was without consequence. We do not know what dealings she might have been engaging in which are now interrupted or even made impossible. We do not know whether the countries in which she worked before 1997 could accost her, if she were to visit any of them, confronting her with signed papers that gave untruthful reasons for her previous stay — that she was there only as tourist, or working for a fictitious U.S. company…
The importance of the law against revealing the true professional identity of an agent is advertised by the draconian punishment, under the federal code, for violating it. In the swirl of the Libby affair, one loses sight of the real offense, and it becomes almost inapprehensible what it is that Cheney/Libby/Rove got themselves into. But the sacredness of the law against betraying a clandestine soldier of the republic cannot be slighted.
If Buckley “gets” why her outing was a big deal, one wonders why other right wing pundits like David Brooks, John Tierney and others find it so hard to do so.
Senator Trent Lott on Hardball expressed vague misgivings about Karl Rove continuing in his White House post as the President’s chief policy advisor. Matthews reminds Lott and his audience that Rove was probably the mastermind of Lott’s undoing as Senate Majority Leader (which certainly gives Lott reason enough for hating him):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Should he [Rove] stay at the White House?
LOTT: Well, the question is…is he good for American politics? Look, he has been very successful, very effective in the political arena. The question is should he be the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy under the current circumstances? I don’t know all that’s going on, so I can’t make that final conclusion. But…how many times has the top political person become also the top policy advisor? Maybe you can make that transition, but it’s a real challenge, and I think they have to – I do think they need to look at bringing in some more people, you know, old gray beards that have been around this town for a while, help them out a little bit at the White House.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it’s a little unseemly to have Svengali on the federal payroll? That sounds like that’s what you’re saying? I’m trying to reconsider what you said. Do you think he should go?
LOTT: Well, I didn’t say that. I mean, I said, you know, is he in the right position? I mean, a lot of political advisors, in fact, most presidents in recent years have a political advisor in the White House. The question is, should they be making, you know, policy decisions. That’s the question you’ve got to evaluate.
According to the Washington Post, even some unnamed White House staffers are beginning to question whether Rove impedes Bush’s ability to move beyond the scandal and what his future role should be:
Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration.
These could be the first tremors of resistance among Republicans to Rove’s continuing presence at the White House while the scandal plays out. We’ll see if others take up the call.