Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- White House Special Advisor Karl Rove is in need of an exorcist. Perhaps a witch doctor will suffice. Whatever choice is made, I advise that the president get a master of the occult over to Rove's White House office immediately, and before another day of CNN broadcasts alarm the nation.

Anyone listening to CNN or reading the liberal press knows that something diabolical has happened to Rove. Thanks to columnist Robert Novak, a former American diplomat who goes by the swank name of Joseph C. Wilson IV and the extreme left-wing Nation magazine, Rove is being victimized by another Washington Black Cat News Story. A Black Cat News Story is a bizarre phenomenon known only to national news reporting, usually in Washington. It is an ominous, catastrophic story that, like a black cat, leaps across a public figure's path -- and, all of a sudden, that public figure's luck turns sour.

He is abandoned by friends. On his way to a photo-op with Kofi Annan, the zipper on his pants breaks. During a reception in the White House Rose Garden, an overhead bird evacuates on his new tie. The phone rings, and it is Arianna Huffington announcing that she will be his weekend houseguest -- and she is bringing her new boyfriend, the one with the ponytail who wears sandals.

You think I am kidding? These Black Cat News Stories can do a lot of damage. There was one years back that Vice President Dan Quayle had a girlfriend, a girlfriend in common with half the Republicans on Capitol Hill. There was another one that President George Bush I had a girlfriend. These Black Cat News Stories caused little damage in career terms, but they did tarnish reputations hitherto unsullied. Most such stories lack substance and usually die after a terrific media pothering.

The administration of Bush II has already suffered the Enron Black Cat News Story and the Sixteen Words Black Cat News Story. Yet sometimes the story really sends its victim into oblivion. There was the Black Cat News Story about White House Chief Of Staff John Sununu using government transportation to pursue his stamp collection. That was the end of Sununu. Is Rove headed for retirement and a weekend with Arianna?

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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