Monday, July 17, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part VIII

The blue neon haze of the vibrant capital city radiated through the lone window illuminating a path to his desk. As Rove eased back into his chair, his eyes focused on a handwritten note affixed to a framed photograph of George W. Bush he kept prominently displayed on the corner of his desk.

"OMFG, did you see what Gorbachev said? We're gonna humiliate that leopard-head bastard!"

He recognized the message as originating from Cheney due to the fact that "The Veep" had recently adopted the annoying practice of adding internet slang to his personal notes. His wife had recently bought him a time management video in the hopes of freeing up more time for intimacy with her husband. Completely missing the point of the gesture, the only suggestion that stuck was the use of acronyms as a time-saving device.

"We've got a problem with the Russians," a voice heaved from the corner causing Rove to jump. Cheney hobbled out from the shadows into the blue glow as if he'd had both of his knees surgically amputated as a result of a gruesome hunting accident. Rove paused to reflect on the irony. "I left you a note, but the immediacy led me to your office."

"What is so important that it keeps you lurking around the building in the middle of the night?"

"I don't mind a herd of Arabs shaking their fists at American embassies. They're harmless." Visibly agitated, Cheney braced himself against the harm of an upholstered chair. "What we don't need is another Cold War. I was certain we'd done away with Gorbachev, but now he's back producing nationalist sound bites and attacking me!"

"We could plant rumors that he's battling senility in his old age," Rove suggested.

"No, this has to encompass Putin. I have a contact in the Associated Press that you'll call. Work with the translators in Intelligence to adjust their statements. Get creative."

As quickly as he'd appeared, Cheney thrust himself back into the shadows of the unlit office, and the room fell silent. After an eternity of suppressed bewilderment, Rove heard the shuffling of feet across his hardwood floor coupled with a book falling off a nearby shelf.

"Dick, do you need some help?" he cast out into the vastness.

When there was no response, Rove leisurely rotated his chair around to face the window. Through the reflection of the glass, he could see the hall light creep in as Cheney stealthily opened the office door and slipped away, completing the sinister maneuver.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part VII

As Rove entered the bar, he immediately spotted Novak lingering over a half-empty tumbler filled with the cheapest Scotch sold in all of D. C. The columnist was beginning to look increasingly disheveled lately, as the years of late nights and short deadlines that had stalked him for decades appeared now to be poised for attack.

"Jesus Bob, when was the last time you slept?" Rove asked as he wondered whether Novak was on his fourth or fifth glass.

"I haven't had a good night's sleep since they knocked down the Berlin Wall. You know that, Karl. How's Dick? Does he ever mention me?" he asked with a noticeable increase in optimism.

"Yeah, Bob. He thinks you talk too much."

Novak's head fell back into his glass. "I try so hard, but they keep calling and offering money and attention. They say I'll be an American hero if I just tell them what I know. All I ever wanted was to be on the inside - like you guys."

Rove painfully bit the inside of his lip until he could taste the warm, metallic blood seep out over his tongue. He found it particularly taxing attempting to mask his contempt for Novak's pathetic, infantile displays of weakness. The journalist had fallen out of favor with the ranking officials in the White House after storming off the set of a CNN debate with James Carville that they felt had compromised his effectiveness as a mouthpiece for the Administration. He had been left to languish in self-regret.

"Listen, we have a CIA document that might help you with your column," Rove said as he casually placed a sealed envelope on the table.

Novak reached out from behind the security of his glass to clutch Rove's wrist. His face contorted for emphasis revealing his glazed porcelain tusks as he slurred, "I promise I won't let you down, friend. You're my friend, right?"

Novak's eyelids slanted momentarily before collapsing under their own weight. He slumped to the side with a sizable exhale and eased into a familiar cyclical snoring pattern.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part VI

"Victor Sedaris was named by locals as a terrorist sympathizer after a conversation in which he criticized the NSA surveillance program. A governmental investigation revealed the purchase of large amounts of fertilizer and diesel, as well as the employment of numerous illegal immigrants," the agent read aloud.

"That all seems pretty inconclusive. Sure, we could attack him on the immigration front, but farmers all over the world buy those supplies," Rove argued openly.

"You're missing one crucial ingredient," Cheney calmly interjected. "His wife's name is Alasdair Al-Sharrah. She's an immigrant from Afghanistan. All we have to do is create suspicion; the media will do the rest."

Rove had been linked to Robert Novak for more than two decades. The elder Bush had relieved Rove from his post twice upon suspicion of leaking information to Novak in a political campaign setting. More recently, Novak had publically named Rove as the official who confirmed the identity of Valerie Plame. Novak continually reaped reward from Rove's dark, conceited character flaw of being unbreakable. Once again, it was time to call up an old friend.

The headline the following morning would read, "Terror Strikes the Heartland: CIA Document Reveals Farmer's Dangerous Plot."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part V

Even before the briefing from the Secretary of Defense had concluded, Rove was formulating a plan. He'd perfected the practice of manipulating public opinion to the extent that it had become second nature.

"If this means what we think it means, I mean to find a means to end this which we think we know," Rumsfeld uttered enigmatically. Silence ensued as Rove attempted to wade the sea of demonstratives still hanging stagnantly in the air.

"Perhaps now is the time to smuggle a nuclear warhead into Japan. We know they have the will to strike North Korea. They just lack the means," Rove announced.

After careful consideration, Rumsfeld projected from somewhere behind his archaic bifocals, "careful, once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

With this, he opened a black folder that he'd cautiously tucked in his gray blazer before leaving the secrecy of his office.


Years before, the two had coalesced, with full cooperation from the head of the CIA, to create a secret archive which became the White House's personal slush fund of information meant to preserve control over the media. It was meant to substantiate timely escalations in the polychromatic Terror Alert System but had since matured into a purgatory for possible profiles in terrorism waiting to be leaked to an unwitting media.

Before Rove could examine the chronicles, Cheney appeared from the shadows like the hand of God to select with decisive finality the revelation that would energize the great American fear machine.

The new face of terrorism would be a corn farmer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part IV

"The President very badly needs a favor from you."

Roger Ailes personified the CEO who ruled his media empire with an iron fist and surly disposition. A gold pinky ring adorned the bristly knuckles of his right hand that had hardened from years of podium thumping to emphasize success at all costs in his annual keynote to stockholders. His face constricted to reveal teeth tarnished from decades of coffee, cigarettes and neglect when he heard these words seeping from a vulnerable White House. It wasn't so much a grin meant to reveal pleasure as it was a primitive display of aggression common to wild dogs aimlessly roaming the earthen streets of Mexico.

"We need the Putin exploit trumped up on the national stage. We'll give you an official statement from the White House twenty minutes before it goes out to the other networks," the voice announced.

"Make it a half hour, and you forget to send one to CNN," Ailes brazenly negotiated against his competitor.

After a long pause filled with some intermittent mumbling, the voice agreed.

Theirs was a relationship that spanned back to the infancy of Fox News. The GOP needed a seemingly unbiased presence in the liberally-dominated cable news arena to hammer its agenda into the collective consciousness of Americans, and Rupert Murdoch needed to develop political ties that could withstand the wrath of Ted Turner.

Moments later, Rove sat back and stared out of the narrow sliver between the curtains onto the harshly lit lawn of the White House. Piercing through the mechanical hum of political trysts and ambitious interns was the familiar chime of a Fox News Alert.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part III

He never had the stage presence to occupy the Oval Office.

When he was nine, it was his father who first recognized Karl's awkward clumsiness for Vertigo. It would be a lifelong battle leaving uneven haircuts and two critically wounded family pets in its wake. Inevitably, it was Vertigo that would kick start Rove's political career.

In the early seventies, George Bush, Sr. had noticed Rove at several fundraising events and mistook his medically-sanctioned stumbling for intoxication. The elder Bush desired to help Rove as an act of benevolence, mistakenly thinking that he shared many traits with George, Jr.

He was immediately shopped out to the Cheney family, transcribing erotic homosexual novels from audio tapes recorded by Lynne Cheney. However, it took only a few short weeks for Dick to notice Rove's insatiable appetite for unscrupulous behavior and promote him to protégé.

It was his years under Cheney's direction that he experienced all the eccentricities of the man who would become the most powerful Vice President in the history of America. Whether it was Cheney's insistence on napping under the glow of red light bulbs or the iced, day-old black coffee complete with a half-shot of Old Crow that he consumed every morning, Rove came to appreciate and respect the powerful force of habit. Rove was so taken with his mentor's presence that he was moved to tears upon notification of Cheney's first heart attack, a showing of emotion that had been lacking when his own father abandoned Rove at the impressionable age of 18.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Remember the Knife: Part II

The headline read, "World Leader Drawing Criticism for Kissing Child on Stomach."

Rove held his breath as visions of partially accomplished missions and OB-GYNs practicing their love with women suddenly came flooding back.

Just below, typed in letters that seemed to sear through the thin paper, "Putin likens kissing child to petting kitten."

Rove leaned back in his oversized leather chair, relieved that he now had a cloak to shield the latest Presidential remark. It was a hallmark of his tenure; the ability to divert attention away from the embarrassment created by Curious George. This gift is often credited with getting Bush Jr. into the White House by hiding video footage of the President negatively referencing his father's political allies and inappropriately gesturing cameras before interviews.

He longed to relive his days working in the Texas gubernatorial election for Bush. Campaigning in the deserts of West Texas, it was considered chic to see a candidate politicking so hard that he sweated from his wrists. That filthy, conniving spirit was what drew him to politics like a moth to the bulb on a crisp October night.

It was the sordid underbelly of the purified cable news broadcast.
It was rise of the Wild West Neo-Conservative.
It was the only thing left that could leave Rove's toes curling up in his smart, wing-tip Oxfords.

Remember the Knife: Part I

"Mr. Rove, it's happened again," his assistant whispered as she gently shook the Deputy Chief of Staff.

He rose, casting shadows that cut through the heavy air of his office.

"You won't tell them I was sleeping. Karl Rove never sleeps," he said in a familiarly aggressive tone. He reflected briefly on an episode of Seinfeld he'd seen over a decade ago which introduced him to the idea of the third-person vernacular. The corner of his mouth turned up with satisfaction.

Rove dutifully read the memo sent down from Dick Cheney, who insisted he be referred to as "The Veep" when not in the presence of women. As his eyes quickly cut through the copy, he learned that the President had once again talked himself into a hole.

"Ring Dick," he demanded from behind the desk of his office. He had found that, with an elevation in status, certain tasks were no longer deemed important enough to be performed personally. The burden of dialing for oneself was widely considered to be at the top of the list. It was the failure of Rove to follow this credo that inspired Cheney to have the numbers removed from Rove's phone shortly before last Christmas.

Rove had already begun scribbling ideas down in shorthand on a notepad when Cheney answered with a guttural groan. Rove listened in silence, patiently. After a few nods as if Cheney were present, he firmly placed the phone on its receiver and started drafting notes for Tony Snow's afternoon press conference.