The long and winding Rove

For some Democrats, liberals and anti-Bush folks, Karl Rove has become Moby Dick to their Captain Ahab. As his political success has morphed into a reputation for omnipotence, the unseen hand of Rove has been suspected, if not detected, in any number of episodes. One theory popular in some circles is that it was Rove who made sure that the dubious documents about George Bush's military record found their way to Dan Rather and the "60 Minutes Wednesday" crew, leading to the discredited Sept. 8 2004 story questioning Bush's military service. The backlash against CBS's flawed story effectively took that touchy issue off the table for the rest of the presidential campaign.

I tend to be a bit skeptical about the "Karl did it" claims that regularly pop up. But since Newsweek's story confirming that he talked to Time's Matt Cooper about Valerie Plame, the CIA official at the heart of a federal probe into who leaked her identity to the media, Newsweek , it looks like Rove and the White House have become caught in a controversy that isn't going away any time soon. (The Newsweek piece pointed out that Cooper's email offered no evidence that Rove actually used Plame's name in the conversation.)

For those of you who want a taste of just how quickly the administration has been put on the defensive here, check out White House press secretary Scott McClellan's last two sparring sessions with the media. This is yesterday's White House. And this is today's White House. It's pretty sweaty stuff and the rope a' dope tactics don't seem to be working.

By the way, Newsweek's story by Michael Isikoff quotes an email from Cooper to a superior saying he "spoke to Rove on double super secret background." Double super secret background? Is that like what Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies was talking about when he said he wanted to be a "double ought spy."

Perhaps the best insight into the term "double super secret background" was offered today by Washington Post staffer Dana Milbank in this exchange during an online chat with readers.

Detroit, Mich.: What exactly is "double secret background?" How does a journalist make use of such information? Presumably, Cooper would have to corroborate any information he got from Rove with another source, right?

Milbank: An excellent question. I believe it was originally coined by Dean Vernon Wormer in Animal House.

For those of you who may not be fans of the understated film masterpiece "Animal House," an exasperated Wormer feels he has no choice put the reprobates from the Delta House fraternity on "double secret probation."
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