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Monday, July 18, 2005

DERANGED DISCOURSE: However the Rove matter turns out re the core facts currently in dispute, hopefully history will remember this phase of the affair as a way not to go about public discussion of complex matters. Here's the rub: Key facts have not yet been made public, hence all speculations are based on assumptions as to what those facts might be. Speaking of unfounded guesswork, Andrew Sullivan took a page from the playbook of the Rove controversy today when he "outed" former British prime minister Edward Heath. Sullivan doesn't know for sure that Heath was gay; he just starts with that assumption and runs with it. Being dead, Heath can neither confirm nor deny. If Heath had publicly condemned homosexualitywhile secretly living as a gay man, the issue of hypocrisy would be relevant. He didn't — so it isn't. As it is, my objection has nothing to do with Heath's sexuality; I couldn't care less if he was straight or gay, or even what used to be called a "confirmed bachelor." It's just lousy journalism to transform unsubstantiated rumors into public facts. But I'll admit it makes for useful politics, if you've got an axe to grind. In that sense, the Rove and Heath stories serve a common purpose for partisans. Still, there's a difference. It actually matters whether Rove did what he's accused of. Sullivan's rifling of Heath's closet is here. As for get-Rove-at-all-costs stories, try not to find at least one today.