Conspiracy theories are everywhere

Could Karl Rove be behind talk of impeaching Bush?

Dateline 25 January 2006

Conspiracy theories are everywhere. They have always been a feature of American politics, but the Internet gives voice to people who, in previous generations, would have been able to sound off only to a few friends in a bar. You can choose to be concerned by the astonishing range of theories that exist, or just be amused by them.

For example, it is taken as an article of faith on the left of American politics that Karl Rove was behind every criticism of John Kerry during the 2004 election. It seems beyond the imagination of some people that anyone could possibly have wanted to criticize Kerry without receiving a phone call, and probably a check, from Rove. Apparently it is entirely forgotten that during the 1970s Kerry accused US servicemen in Vietnam of routinely committing crimes against humanity. Also apparently forgotten, the fact that his sources were widely discredited, mostly being people who never actually served in Vietnam. Later PoWs held in Vietnam testified that they had been tortured, that Kerryís words in giving evidence to the Senate had been repeated to them, and that they felt his testimony had prolonged their torture.

So why does any imagine that people who believe they were tortured because of John Kerry would need any encouragement to campaign to frustrate his presidential ambitions?

But conspiracy theories donít stop there. The one clear and unambiguous case of dirty campaigning in 2004 was the forging of documents purporting to show that George W Bush received favorable treatment when serving in the National Guard. And the response of the conspiracy theorists? Karl Rove forged the documents to earn sympathy for George W Bush. Are we seeing a pattern here? If anyone attacks Kerry, Rove is responsible. If anyone attacks Bush, Rove is responsible.

So here is the question: could Karl Rove be responsible for the current talk on left-wing websites of impeaching the President? It seems pretty unlikely, but Rove must certainly be delighted at the prospect.

With even Al Gore asserting, against all the evidence, that eavesdropping on terrorist suspects is illegal, even though he served in an administration which did the same thing, the talk of impeachment is gathering pace. Every serious legal opinion, from the Supreme Court down, shows that Gore is wrong. So why is no-one saying this?

Perhaps we should ask who would benefit from cutting off impeachment talk at this stage. Bill Clinton, unambiguously, committed a criminal offence, for which anyone else would have been sent to prison. Clinton was holding 1500 people in federal prisons for committing the same offence at the time. But he was still able to spin his impeachment as being Ďabout sexí. People saw it as an intrusion into his private life and he gained in popularity.

So what will happen to the Presidentís popularity if Democrats accused him of snooping on terrorists? Of working too hard to prevent a recurrence of 9/11?

Nothing could delight Republican strategists more than the prospect of fighting Novemberís elections over Democrat allegations that the Republicans are too tough on bin Laden. So, if you were wondering why, the White House has done almost nothing to repudiate the fatuous charge that eavesdropping on foreign terrorists is illegal, this is probably the reason.

Copyright © Quentin Langley 25 January 2006

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