How The Plame Investigation Ruined The White House's Day Today
Yes, the RNC and Bush/Cheney 2004 are having their fun today with their new “Kerry vs. Kerry” interactive game, contrasting what Kerry said on a variety of issues in the past with what he says now. But in truth the Bushies had a bad day today, despite the RNC pathetic effort to pressure media outlets from running the latest MoveOn.org media buy criticizing the president.
First, John Kerry continued his travels in Bush’s electoral back yard today, visiting New Orleans and trashing Bush’s record on jobs. Sure, one could argue that Kerry needs to be in the South in advance of next Tuesday’s group of primaries. But with no opponents left, Kerry could plausibly blow off a swing like this and save his money. So why is he going anyway to places like Florida and Louisiana? It could very well be that the campaign is testing the reaction he gets in these states to see if they merit more attention later as possible general election battleground states. And as long as Kerry gets to campaign on more and more bad news like today’s job figures of only 21,000 new jobs as Mary reported earlier, Kerry will find fertile ground for the fall.
Second, using a surrogate strategy, Kerry had Teddy Kennedy lay into the Bush foreign policy today at the Council on Foreign Relations. In a sharp and pointed speech that got a lot of media attention, Kennedy blasted George Tenet today for failing to “convince the policy-makers to cool their overheated rhetoric” about Iraq’s WMD potential.
Third, and potentially most damaging, the federal grand jury looking into which White House staffer exposed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame has subpoenaed Air Force One phone records for the week before the Robert Novak column in which her identity was exposed. But just as noteworthy, according to the information leaked to Newsday from a source inside the investigation (interesting, isn’t it?) is the fact that other subpoenas involved the Iraq Group, a White House creation with the responsibility for, as Colonel Sam Gardiner noted months ago, manufacturing stories and disinformation to sway the public into supporting a war with Iraq. Obviously, for such a group, it isn’t much to smear someone like Joe Wilson and endangering his wife.
It met weekly in the Situation Room, the Post said, and its regular participants included senior political adviser Karl Rove; communication strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; policy advisers led by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen J. Hadley; and I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
In essence, the subpoenas issued by the Grand Jury aim the spotlight towards the highest levels of the White House and threaten to expose the Administration not only for outing Plame, but also for the disinformation campaign conducted directly by the White House in selling the war, as Gardiner revealed months ago.
This is why today wasn’t a good day for the White House.