Joel Mowbray

The virtual vigilantes circling Karl Rove have everything lined up for the brand of justice they see fit for “the Architect”: public humiliation, all-out character assassination, firing, near-fatal damage to the White House, and if they get the cherry on top, “frog-marching” the President’s closest advisor from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to a federal prison.

There’s just one hitch: their entire political case rests on the quicksand known as Joe Wilson.

As part of the cynical campaign to destroy the man who guided Bush to four straight electoral victories, the Left has hailed Wilson as a hero.  At first blush, the idiocy of exalting the man with a well-documented credibility problem would seem to rival the decision to roll the cameras as Dukakis gave the thumbs-up while riding in a tank.

But the Left’s entire rationale for the “Fire Rove” tidal wave is that revealing Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA employee was nothing more than a “shameful,” “despicable,” and “disturbing” act of “retaliation,” “retribution,” or “revenge.”  If they admitted that Wilson layered lies upon lies, then logic dictates that Rove did no more than encourage a reporter not to be hoodwinked.

Which helps explain why New Republic editor Peter Beinart, who is neither a peacenik nor blinded by Bush hatred, appeared incredulous when I pointed out in our CNN debate last Wednesday that Joe Wilson was not exactly credible.  “Joe Wilson is not the one with a credibility problem here,” he snapped.

Though—as left-wing blogger Josh Marshall has noted ad nauseum—Wilson didn’t directly say that he was sent by the Vice-President’s office, the implication couldn’t have been clearer.  “The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer,” Wilson wrote in his now-infamous New York Times op-ed.

Thus, the defense of Wilson’s credibility boils down to skilled parsing: he didn’t say that Cheney’s office sent him, he only implied it.  Sounds an awful lot like the semantic acrobatics of which Wilson’s defenders accuse Rove’s supporters being guilty.

Even if you give Wilson the benefit of the doubt on that count, though, the career diplomat still has not been on speaking terms with the truth.

Just over one year ago, the man married to the retired CIA operative formerly known as Valerie Plame was exposed as an opportunist who lied at almost every turn in an audacious bid to grab his 15 minutes—and a seven-figure book deal. 

He was outed not by Rove, the White House, or some right-wing outfit, but by the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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