No sooner had the egg stopped dripping down Dan Rather’s face than Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe came forward to suggest that White House political adviser Karl Rove might actually be behind the bogus documents at the heart of the CBS Memogate Fiasco. But why would a Republican loyalist like Rove float documents which called into question President Bush’s National Guard service? Elementary, according to McAuliffe: Rove knew the documents would quickly be exposed as a hoax, which in turn would cast suspicion on the John Kerry campaign, make Bush family-nemesis Rather into a laughingstock and, oh, by the way, deflect attention from Bush’s alleged dereliction of duty in the early 1970s.
McAuliffe’s reasoning was soon seconded by MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, senior Kerry adviser Howard Wolfson, and even New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd — who didn’t quite sign onto the theory but wrote that she kinda-sorta wouldn’t put it past Rove. After Dowd’s column appeared, several academic colleagues of mine concluded that Rove was indeed the probable culprit. Last Saturday, I overheard two subway riders echoing the notion.
Such bank shot logic is beyond silly, albeit slightly disconcerting. When you start believing that your enemy will shoot himself in the foot in order to plant the gun on your friend, then you’ve descended to the cognitive level of, well, the Arab Street — where conventional wisdom still holds, for example, that the CIA and Israel’s Mossad collaborated on the September 11th attacks on the United States in order to provide the Bush Administration with a pretext to launch a crusade against the Islamic world.
Conspiracy theorizing has become the knee-jerk of the new millennium among liberal partisans — call them Tin Foil Hat Democrats. In their world, Jeb Bush is busy rigging another Florida vote for his brother, Halliburton is busy calling the shots in the war on terror, John Ashcroft is busy repealing the Bill of Rights, and Neoconservatives are busy working their Trilateral Commission voodoo to make the world safe for corporate capitalist exploitation.
Now if I were a Tin Foil Hat Democrat sifting through the mess at CBS, the conspiracy I’d theorize would have nothing to do with Karl Rove. I’d start by asking myself who stands to gain the most from the defeat of John Kerry in the 2004 election — that is, apart from Republicans …and Iraqis and Afghans and every person of good will in the Middle East and Asia.
To my mind, there’s one clear answer: Hillary Rodham Clinton. I mean, a Kerry victory shuts her out of a run for the presidency until at least 2012, and possibly 2020 if John Edwards decides to run after two terms as Kerry’s vice president; by then, Hillary would be 73. Then there’s the matter of Joe Lockhart, whose name keeps cropping up as the middleman between the Kerry camp and CBS. That’s Joe Lockhart — Bubba’s former press secretary and Clintonista for life. Finally, I notice the junior senator from New York goes by three names: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Like John Wilkes Booth. Like Lee Harvey Oswald. Like James Earl Ray.
Eh? Eh? See what I’m driving at?
Time to break out the foil, kiddies.