Turdblossem Special

by digby

There's a ton of good coverage about Rove's resignation today all over the blogosphere, too many to link. But be sure to check around and read them all. Jane Hamsher wondered this morning what the press isn't telling us and it's a natural question. Considering the fact that Rove is currently under a cloud in a number of different scandals as Marcy Wheeler points out here, it's really not all that surprising that he would rather suddenly need to "spend more time with his family." (I can't believe they actually used that cliche when he has one kid who is in college.)

There are many possibilities but I would love for him to be taken down for his vote-rigging schemes in the Department of Justice and what I suspect is his involvement in political spying. After all, it's been his MO since he started in politics. As I wrote earlier this year:

My suspicion has always been that there was some part of this program --- or an entirely different program --- that included spying on political opponents. Even spying on peace marchers and Greenpeace types wouldn't seem to me to be of such a substantial departure from the agreed upon post 9/11 framework that it would cause such a reaction from the top brass, nor would it be so important to the president that he would send Gonzales and Card into the ICU to get Ashcroft to sign off on it while he was high on drugs.

As I pointed out last year:

From Bush's Brain:

At a seminar in Lexington, Kentucky, in August 1972, Rove and Robinson recounted the Dixon episode with considerable delight. They talked about campaign espionage, about digging through an opponent's garbage for intelligence --- then using it against them. Robinson recounted how the technique had worked well for him in the 1968 governor's race in Illinois when he "struck gold" in a search of an opponent's garbage. He found evidence that a supporter had given checks to both sides in the race, but more to the Democrat, Sam Shapiro.

"So one of our finance guys calls the guy up the next day and told him there was a vicious rumor going around," Robinson said, according to a tape recording of a seminar. "The guy got all embarrassed and flew to Chicago that day with a check for $2,000 to make up the difference," he said.

This was the summer of the Watergate break-in, with the first revelations of a scandal that unraveled the Nixon presidency.The Watergate burglars broke in to the Democratic National Committee offices on June 17 and the whole business of political dirty tricks was rapidly becoming a very sensitive subject. Both Rove and Robinson recognized that. They even specifically mentioned the Watergate break-in at the seminars, not as a reason to avoid campaign espionage, but as a reason to keep it secret.

"While this is all well and good as fun and games, you've really got to use your head about who knows about this kind of thing." Robinson warned.

"Again in those things, if it's used sureptitiously in a campaign, it's better off if you don't get caught. You know, those people who were caught by Larry O'Brien's troops in Washinngton are a serious verification of the fact that you don't get caught."

Remember: Watergate was about bugging the Democratic National Committee. The "3rd rate burglary" was to replace an illegal bug that had been planted on the telephones of prominent Democrats.

The lesson of Watergate for the chagrined Republicans was that they needed to be more forceful in assuming executive power and they needed to be more sophisticated about their campaign espionage.

That's what they've done.

It's pretty to think that the proof of that might be forthcoming, but I hesitate to get my hopes up. Cheney would have Rove committed to Gitmo before he'd let that come out.

The Abramoff scandal is also promising, but we've been waiting for that shoe to fall for a long time. Perhaps it's finally worked itself through the system.

If I had to guess at what might be the thing that is causing him to leave right now, I'd have to guess that it's the most prosaic crime of all: violation of the Hatch Act.

Here's a little reminder of what Karl has been up to on that count, from the LA Times:

GOP at a loss?
Karl Rove has an 11th-hour plan to win. He taps government resources to boost candidates in need.

By Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten Times Staff Writers October 29, 2006

...This week, Rove and his staff will turn to their endgame. They will oversee a mobilization of political employees from Cabinet agencies, Capitol Hill and lobbying firms many of them skilled campaign veteran to more than a dozen battleground states. Many will act as "marshals," supervising the "72-hour plan" developed by Rove in 2001 with Ken Mehlman, the former White House political director who now heads the
Republican National Committee...the success of the get-out-the-vote effort depends on putting a reliable army of volunteers into the field, and some worry about the sour mood among Republicans this year. Rove and Mehlman have tried to ensure quality control by recruiting experienced operatives to supervise key state operations.

In the summer, they invited hundreds of political appointees from Cabinet agencies, along with other GOP activists and Hill staffers, to attend a pep rally in Washington. The event featured appeals to politically experienced federal appointees to volunteer for campaign work in battleground races in the final two weeks of the campaign. In a twist that resembled an Amway sales meeting more than a political strategy session, they offered those who signed up on the spot a chance to win an iPod and other prizes. As the political landscape shifted in September and October, Rove's office suggested new destinations for some of these volunteers, pointing them toward races that had become more critical.

But to senior-level political appointees, such conversations with the White House would not be anything new: Nearly all have had regular contact with Rove and his political deputies to a degree previous generations of appointees did not. For example, Interior Department employees describe regular visits from Rove's staff during Bush's first term. On one occasion, Rove visited a retreat for
the 50 top Interior Department managers. The lights dimmed in an agency conference room as Rove went through a PowerPoint presentation showing battleground races in the 2002 midterm election, and occasionally made oblique but clearly understood references to Interior Department decisions that could affect these races. By stopping short of explicitly calling on the Interior Department officials to take action, Rove stayed within the rules against exerting improper political influence. This year, Rove's deputy, Sara Taylor, has delivered similar presentations to nearly every Cabinet agency providing managers with a look at polls showing presidential approval ratings and the latest data on House and Senate races. In addition to Taylor's visits to Cabinet agencies, Mary Matalin, the Republican consultant and former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, spoke to agencies this fall describing the stakes in November. "These visits are a reminder of what's important," said one
agency manager who attended one of the sessions. "They didn't need to say anything explicitly. We already knew what to do."

Sometimes the simplest crimes are the ones that get you. If he's being forced out --- and short notice suggests that it's at least a good possibility --- this would be my guess as to the reason. It's so blatant that the press reported it at the time as if it were perfectly normal. It isn't.

I would further suspect that if it is the reason, it performs the function of a Bernie Kerik "nanny taxes" excuse, where they sort of cop to the stupid crime nobody cares about to stave off inquiry into the bigger ones. Not that the entire GOP establishment won't rise up and defend him no matter what he's accused of, but this would be the easiest for them to defend with their Libby patented extended whine, "they're criminalizing politics!!!" .

After all, as we learned last week from GOP spinner Karen Hanratty on Hardball, "everybody knows" the town is run on patronage. Only young and naive people think it should be otherwise. I'll look forward to the 763rd episode of the Mr and Mrs Toensing-Digenova show where the Ricky and Lucy of the GOP bar-b-q set explain to all of us that patronage is the American way.