Any idea why I live outside the Beltway?

I’ve only given a cursory interest in the ongoing “scandal” about whether or not Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame’s identity. Honestly, I’d love to see Karl Rove booted from any sort of influence, but please, do I need to spell it out for the stupid? Consider:

“I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration,” Bush said at a news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Asked on June 10, 2004, whether he stood by his earlier pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked the officer’s name, Bush replied: “Yes.” On Monday, he added the qualifier that it would have to be demonstrated that a crime was committed.

Karl Rove isn’t going anywhere. He never was, even when this scandal had the potential legs of “criminal activity” by Rove. Rove is sleazy in his methods, but that’s nothing new. But he most likely can slither his way out of any criminal actions, assuming he even committed a crime. But short of a prosecutor filing charges against him, Democrats need to refrain from this:

“President Bush backed away from his initial pledge and lowered the ethics bar,” Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said. “Bush should be prepared to keep his word, and to enforce a high standard of ethics in the White House as he promised from the beginning of his administration.”

Yes, President Bush lowered the bar for ousting the (potential) leaker from his administration. Boo, hiss. And big whoop. If Rove is fired, do we think he loses his influence in the Bush Administration? As long as there is a secure phone line in the White House, Rove is free to practice his dark arts at will. So he doesn’t push the buttons to make the politics of diversion happen. He’ll still pull the strings. Personally, I’d prefer Rove in the White House where we can theoretically watch him because Rove behind the scenes scares me much more.

But this is Washington. A potential scandal is more than enough justification for going on the offensive. Better to smear someone because you hate them than because they’ve done something illegal. Victory at any cost, right? So what happens when the White House manages to spin this away? Every talking head on the Right gets to pin this as partisan politics on the Left. Sure, any sane person can decipher the spin to know it’s happening. But will the ideologues care? Remember, these are the people spewing “Liberal MSM” and “activist judges” at every opportunity. This whole scandal reeks of the old adage that “the facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.”

I’d rather win when the battle matters.