The Rove watch, through a looking glass

What does it all mean? Whatever you want it to.

Published May 23, 2006 9:04PM (EDT)

In a 1989 Supreme Court case, the late Justice Thurgood Marshall listed some of the signs cops have used in deciding that an air traveler fits the profile of an illegal drug courier: The traveler was the first to deplane; he was the last to deplane; he bought a round-trip ticket; he bought a one-way ticket; he took a nonstop flight; he changed planes; he had no luggage; he had new luggage; he had a gym bag; he was visibly nervous; he looked too calm.

Somehow, this "chameleon-like way of adapting to any particular set of observations" has come to mind more than once lately as we've watched those watching the Karl Rove indictment watch.

Consider the fact that Rove made a few public appearances last week. Maybe that's a sign that the White House thinks that Patrick Fitzgerald has given up on Rove. Or maybe, as conspiracy-minded blogger Wayne Madsen theorized the other day, it means that the grand jury really has indicted Rove already, but that the Bush administration knows that Rove is in the clear because it has gone to court to have the indictment dismissed.

Consider the fact that the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz have both written pieces dismissive of the claim that Rove has already been indicted. Maybe that's a sign that the story isn't true. Or maybe, as Truthout's Marc Ash argues, there's something "telling" about "rolling out that much conservative journalistic muscle to rebut" it.

Consider the fact that Rove's lawyer and spokesman have both denied the already-been-indicted story in interviews with Truthout and TalkLeft.comment poster at TalkLeft does, that Rove's people "now have a foot in the door of the liberal blogosphere" and may be using it "to manipulate their message among us."

And consider the fact that MSNBC's David Shuster said Monday night that Rove's legal team and former prosecutors watching the case "expect Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision at any time." Maybe Shuster's really saying that "Rove's people say an announcement by the special prosecutor is imminent," as one Truthout poster claimed. Maybe "the implication" is that Rove is "being cleared," as another asserted. Or maybe what Shuster said Monday night was simply a no-surprise update on the expected schedule of events he described a couple of weeks ago.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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