Before President Bush's Supreme Court nomination of Judge John Roberts completely overshadows the misidentified Karl Rove scandal, I think we better take a second look at the twisted direction this sad story has taken.
As far as Karl Rove's conduct in the Plame/Wilson affair, there is no scandal. He didn't come close to committing a crime, nor even an ethical infraction.
He didn't set out to expose a CIA operative, much less an undercover one. He was the recipient of a phone call in which he cautioned Time's Matt Cooper not to be taken in by the politically driven Joe Wilson, whose operative wife, Valerie Plame, had played a great role in securing Wilson's "fact-finding" trip to Niger.
Rove, who didn't even mention Plame's name, couldn't have known she was an undercover CIA agent -- because she wasn't. He manifestly wasn't motivated to expose her for the purpose of punishing Wilson -- because "exposing" her non-covert status couldn't possibly have damaged her.
But Rove did have a motive to share his information with Cooper: to warn him of the nepotistic connection between Plame and Wilson and to thus take Wilson's claims with a grain of salt.
Rove did nothing wrong. Indeed, he had an obligation to alert Cooper to Wilson's chicanery because, among other reasons, questions of our national security were involved. As the president's right-hand man, shouldn't we expect Rove to do his part to correct the record about a matter so serious: whether Saddam was trying to or did acquire uranium from Niger?
The media and Democrats seem to be saying that we can't let Rove off the hook just because he might not have technically violated the law. He must be fired or at the very least lose his security clearance because of his indiscretion.
But there was no indiscretion. Plame was not undercover and hadn't been. She had no secret status to protect. Neither she nor her husband -- it appears -- even treated her status as clandestine. Rove isn't getting off on a technicality. He did nothing wrong. The fact that the allegations against Rove are so serious doesn't change that -- and in no way taints his credibility -- because the allegations are false.
"But there was a leak," cry the Democrats and the press. "President Bush has always said he had a zero-tolerance policy for leaks out of his administration. He must fire the evil Karl Rove."
Even conservative pundits seem to be falling for this ploy. But if there was nothing secret about Plame's status, if there was nothing to protect, there could have been no leak.
Rove talked about her position for the purpose of showing the nefarious link between her and her husband -- and thus the dubiousness of Wilson's supposed findings. He "leaked" nothing. Why is simple English so difficult for people? You can't leak that which is already in the public domain.
But the cockeyed slant on this non-story is masking the real story here, which is not just that Joe Wilson was caught red-handed lying about his wife recommending him and the nature of his actual findings. The real story is the treachery of Wilson in distorting his findings for political purposes to the detriment of our national security.
According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wilson's findings did more to bolster than discredit the Brits' allegation that Saddam was trying to buy uranium from Niger. When he misrepresented those findings -- while working to elect John Kerry -- he consciously damaged our national security by tainting the historical record against America and her image. And what role, if any, did the CIA play in allowing itself to be manipulated for political purposes?
The fact that Democrats and the media are so desperate to bring down Karl Rove, the perceived primary mastermind behind their glorious loss of influence and power, respectively, apparently blinds them to their effective collusion with Wilson in his reckless conduct against this nation. And their non-stop bluster is apparently keeping the rest of us from focusing on it as well.
They are so determined to prove that President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq they're obviously willing to use discredited sources and data to make their case.
Let's not move beyond this story without noting the robust irony it contains. The same people who routinely (and baselessly) accuse President Bush of having fraudulently played the national security card in furtherance of his agenda to remove Saddam are demanding Karl Rove be fired because he can't be trusted in a sensitive national security position.
But it is these people, in their shameless elevation of Joe Wilson -- among other things -- who are complicit in sacrificing our national security interests for their own political agenda.