Forever incapable of embarrassment, let alone sober reflection, Karl Rove is very well suited to his current roles as Fox News commentator and Crossroads Super PAC smear sponsor. But he achieved a moment of near-perfection last Thursday when, appearing on a Fox morning news broadcast, he spoke up about President Obama’s invocation of executive privilege against a House committee subpoena of Justice Department documents.
“It’s one thing to exert executive privilege over the actions of the President, and his aides, and the White House,” he said. “It’s another thing to exercise executive privilege with regard to a Cabinet official, seemingly in a matter that — according to the President up until now — had no connections with, no contact with, no communications with the White House….”
Rove went on to complain that the president’s privilege claim over the “Operation Fast and Furious” documents demanded by Rep. Darrell Issa’s oversight committee “is a very long reach. I mean basically, if the President is allowed to take the privilege that goes to the Executive Office of the President and extend it to a Cabinet department, then he can extend it to any branch of the government for any matter, even if there was no presidential or White House involvement. And I’m not certain that that’s what the Founders thought about when they talked about executive privilege.”
For someone whose qualifications as a constitutional authority are nil, Rove’s comments displayed an impressive degree of contempt for his listeners that is not seen every day, not even on Fox. Whatever he may know about executive privilege, he could only have learned when George W. Bush used it to protect him from various investigations, notably concerning his role as White House political boss in the partisan and lawless dismissal of seven United States Attorneys for partisan revenge.