The second reason is that I don't really like the positions taken by either side here. On the one hand, the legal case against Rove seems a bit weak. As far as I understand it, under the statute everyone is talking about, for Rove to have broken the law he'd have had to knowingly blow an agent's cover with the purpose of causing harm to America. The odds of being able to nail him on that are slim to none.
Andrew Sullivan points to an alternative statute which might be used on Rove. The relevant passage, to me at least, is the following:
(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it...
(e) [same, but for those having unauthorized access to the material]
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
"[H]as reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States" is a far easier standard to meet, but even there I think it's only 50-50. So I'm not going to jump on the blood bandwagon when I'm not positive Rove has committed a crime.
However, "committed a crime" is not the same as "did something wrong," and that's why I'm not going to swing the other way and defend Rove. There a disturbing Borg-like mentality amongst those defending Rove--all parroting the same excuses and justifications as if they are part of a giant GOP hivemind, not independent, rational thinkers. After Bush appeared to shift the standard on accountability (I'm with Amy Sullivan: Flippity-flop), we see the partisans falling over themselves to explain why really, nothing changed. As Andrew Sullivan argues, the point isn't whether or not they can make the argument. The point is they are parsing on a level that would make Billy Clinton proud.
The point is, whether a "crime" was committed or not, Rove still was wrong. Ethics transcend law. I come down with Matthew of the Centrist Coalition:
Maybe what Rove did technically wasn't illegal, maybe the accusations that he is a threat to national security are overblown, and certainly the call for criminal proceedings are premature at best; however, that doesn't change the fact that his discussion with Cooper was inappropriate, irresponsible, unethical, and wrong. Furthermore, what he did certainly goes against the spirit of what the President and his Press Secretary previously claimed was the standard for the administration. To me, the words "Valerie Plame" have little meaning.... For a senior adviser of the most powerful office in the world to have a discussion with a news reporter about the work of a CIA agent, regardless of the seriousness or importance of that work, is the action of a man who clearly sees politics at any cost as a means to an end.
Ultimately, this issue does not lie at the extremes. Whether Rove committed a crime is obviously important, but at the same time it is entirely unimportant. When Bush (by way of Scott McClellan) said that:
If anyone in this administration was involved in it [the improper disclosure of an undercover CIA operative's identity], they would no longer be in this administration
he demonstrated that right and wrong was the operating point, not lawful and unlawful. In the two years that have passed, that standard appears to have been lost.