To folks in the journalism business, few things in life are sweeter than a great "lede."
And what is a lede? It's the first few sentences of a story, the part that either grabs a reader (if the lede is good) or sends them scurrying to the next page (if the lede is not so good).
The lede is to journalism what the lead-off man is to baseball. If you have a good lede, you are likely to have a good story. If your lead-off man gets on base regularly, you are likely to have a winning baseball team.
So it was with delight that I read today's op-ed column by Editor Bob Davis in the Anniston Star. Davis, writing about former White House strategist Karl Rove and his role in the Bush Justice Department scandal, fashions one of the best ledes I've read in awhile:
Poor Karl, he can't help it. He was born with a silver knife in his hand. To stick into his opponents' backs.
Who could resist a lede like that? Why, even Republicans would want to read the rest of that story.
And Davis does not disappoint as his piece moves along:
Funny thing about old Turd Blossom, he keeps stepping in it.
Most prominently we saw this during the outing of a covert CIA agent. Rove denied taking part in a plan to exact revenge upon a White House critic by exposing his wife's cover as a spy on behalf of the United States. According to a book by a former Bush spokesman, Rove said his hands were clean. That was revealed as false during the investigation.
Then there are the many cases involving rivals of political candidates hired by Rove. Untrue smear campaigns seem to follow many of those foes. The seeming Rove specialty is sex — this candidate is a closeted lesbian, this one is a pedophile, this one had an adulterous affair.
Rove manages to stay above it all, allowing the trained surrogates three degrees removed to do the dirty work.
Same rule applies to the scandal over the several U.S. attorneys who say they lost their jobs because they wouldn't pursue Democratic politicians in close elections against Republicans. A Rove aide's fingerprints are all over the firings.
Turn now to the Republican political briefing led by another Rove staffer who encouraged federal government employees to "support our candidates." Political activity on government time, by the way, is illegal.
That last sentence certainly jumped out to us here at Legal Schnauzer. One of the "grounds" UAB cited for my recent termination was that I was using government resources for "political activity." That charge, however, doesn't hold water--not even a drop. UAB's own IT guy, who allegedly monitored my computer use for a month, said I did not write the first word on my blog while on university time.
UAB's "investigation" seemed driven by a desire to see whether I had ever read anything on my computer involving former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. (Never mind that part of my job description is to keep up with news and issues related to Alabama, such as the Siegelman case.) But here's the strange thing: UAB policy defines improper political activity as having to do with a "political candidate, organization, or campaign." Since I started my blog in June 2007, Don Siegelman has been involved in none of those things. Mostly, he's been a federal prisoner.
So by UAB's own definition, I wasn't engaged in improper political activity. But it is clear that Karl Rove and his minions have long been using government property for political activity. And that only strengthens my suspicions that someone connected to Rove is behind my termination.
It's a classic Rove ploy: Charge your opponent (wrongfully) with the very offenses that you commit yourself.
Is it little wonder that the Bush administration, almost certainly the most corrupt in our nation's history, has been obsessed with bringing public-corruption charges against its opponents?
Like me, Davis sees the rich irony in the actions of Rove, Bush and their kin:
For his part, Karl wants us to believe he's done nothing wrong. Too bad he won't tell it under oath. He claims executive privilege, the limited right to shield conversations between a president and his staff.
Seems like President Bush would chisel out a door to his stonewall just this once. Let old Turd Blossom stand before the committee and answer what he knows under oath and the threat of perjury.
Rove is no stranger to talking. He's on the payroll of Fox News — naturally — as a commentator. He frequently dispenses his views on air.
Maybe he could find a little time to tell what he knows to the House Judiciary Committee and a public that needs assurances that its highest law-enforcers aren't under the sway of political operatives.