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Monday, February 28, 2005

Gannongate, Part 5: Democrats – Open the Floodgates!

Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 in case you missed any. In this part we’ll get a little more serious and talk strategy, first from the Democratic perspective.

By now, you’re all familiar with the main points of this story/emerging scandal. We know that a person with questionable journalistic credentials gained access to the daily White House press briefings. We also know that the person in question worked for a right-wing news organization which didn’t have exactly an exemplary record as a news entity. Indeed, certain reporters from more well-known and established news organizations were presumably denied access (only a limited number of seats for reporters in the daily press briefing room) because this person was given a seat. This person repeatedly lobbed ‘softball’ questions or threw out life-lines to the Press Secretary and even the President. Some serious sleuth work by dedicated bloggers (“real” reporters, if you will) unveiled a whole new layer to the onion. This right-wing reporter had not only gotten great access to the White House on a daily basis, he also was a gay hooker and pimp who ran Internet ads for his services. Oh, and apparently he had access to certain classified documents or materials during his stint as a White House reporter.

When faced with this embarrassing evidence, the White House declared that they had no idea about this person’s private (or not so private, given the pubic sex ads) life. Nor did the White House realize any connection with this dubious right-wing “news” organization. Now, there are several different potential conclusions one can draw from this scenario and a couple different paths one can pursue:

1) White House security (Secret Service, FBI) is grossly negligent for not knowing about this reporter’s dubious side-business

2) White House security is doubly-negligent for not knowing that this person somehow got access to classified material

3) White House security did know about this person’s
sextra-curricular activities, but some low level staffer, or even the Press Secretary himself, pushed it under the rug

4) The White House Political Advisor (Karl Rove) knew about this person’s other affairs, but decided that having a sympathetic reporter in the White House press pool superceded any concerns about this person’s other life

5) The White House (including the President) knew about this person’s other affairs, but decided that having a sympathetic reporter in the White House press pool superceded any concerns about this person’s other life

6) The White House knew that this person was a gay hooker and pimp and wanted this person in the White House

I find conclusion #1 (the reason du jour that most Democrats and left-wing bloggers are using to pursue this story) to be wholly unbelievable. I really have a hard time believing that the Secret Service and the FBI did not know who this person was. I don’t think that someone can walk around in the White House everyday without security knowing who he is. Also, Bush runs a very tight ship; I refuse to believe that he is actually really sloppy about his own security. If reason #1 is dubious, reason #2 is even more dubious: I don’t think that people can randomly walk around in the White House – and I don’t think that classified documents are just laying around in the White House for anyone to pick up. Any classified information that Jeff Gannon saw was leaked to him! Reason #3 is pure fantasy – if the Secret Service and the FBI knew about Gannon’s background (which I’m sure they did), they would not allow a low-level staffer or the Press Secretary to shove it under the rug! The Chief of Staff, or at least Karl Rove, would see the background report – I don’t think that staffers and Press Secretaries can make executive decisions on security.

Conclusions #3 and #4 don’t make any sense: If the White House (or Karl Rove) just wanted a shill reporter they could get a million people to take the job. If all they wanted was a cardboard-cut-out journalist they would not get one who is also a gay hooker and pimp! That only leaves conclusion #6 – the only logical conclusion.

From a strategic standpoint, this is actually the best conclusion that Democrats could hope for. Frankly, no one wants to hear Democrats and left-wing bloggers pontificate and provide faux concern over the President’s security. The Democrat’s strategy needs to be one which pushes conclusion #6 and asks the relevant questions which follow from that conclusion. Why did the White House want a gay hooker to visit them every day? Which top-level administration official was using the services of this pimp? How can the White House be so hypocritical as to stand on a platform against the “homosexual agenda” while participating in such behavior? The potential answer to any of these questions leads directly to criminal activity taking place in the White House (I haven’t checked in the last 10 minutes, but I still think prostitution, pimping, and solicitation of sex are illegal). These questions lead to the conclusion that this activity was taking place with the consent or participation of senior administration members. These are also questions that, if raised and repeated by the left, the religious right will soon find themselves asking. Therein lies the crux of the Democratic strategy for success: you must get the religious right to investigate these questions as vigorously as possible. The Democrats have no power in the Executive Branch, Congress, or the courts to push for an investigation. There will be no special investigator appointed without pressure from the religious right-wing.

If the Democrats continue to push the tired old “possible security breach” or “biased reporter” angle pretty soon no one will care. Nobody cares about which staffer potentially misplaced some paperwork or accidentally handed out a daily pass to which person. Nobody cares which reporter was supposedly paid off to have a bias. Nobody cares! People will only care if it becomes apparent to them that this White House has become a gay brothel and that this White House is being hypocritical in it’s position on gays.

In the next part, we'll tackle the Republican strategy for handling this whole affair.