by Kyle Swenson
It was the perfect plan. As the country edged closer to the pivotal 2008 presidential election, Republican-puppet master Karl Rove concocted a scheme to throw off the Democrats' chances at the polls: He'd direct then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to sic the Department of Justice on local Democratic officials in swing states, opening frivolous corruption investigations into the innocent politician while strategically leaking the trumped-up details to hungry right-leaning media outlets, who in turn would misreport and inflate the unproven accusations until a cloud of corruption settled around the party, an umbrage that would either keep disgusted voters home on election day or drive the undecided into the waiting hands of the honest and apple pie GOP, therefore locking in the needed electoral college votes and securing the presidency for the conservative agenda for yet another four years. Game, set, match.
At least, that's what Jimmy said.
Opening arguments began yesterday in former-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora's corruption trial. No doubt, as the trial drags on, you’ll hear all the ins and outs of both the prosecution’s and defense’s arguments. If Dimora's attorney's opening remarks are any indication, it looks like they're going to work to convince jurors that Dimora was only acting out of friendship when he arranged jobs and contracts. Which is a pretty sensible line of defense . . .
. . . too sensible, if you ask us. Now with all this slippery argument and legal wiggling, we’re nostalgic for the simpler days when Dimora maintained he was the innocent victim of a vast, tangled political conspiracy.
That opening paragraph up top? If you think back, you’ll remember that was the embattled pol’s far-fetched explanation . . . literally. We're not making this shit up. Between the 2008 raids and when the FBI slapped on the cuffs in 2010, Dimora was constantly thundering some take on the above fantasy — despite the fact that Rove was well out of the White House by the lead-up to the '08 contest, Obama won Ohio, and the Feds have continued with their county house clearing under the Democratic administration.
Regardless, Jimmy tried to explain away the county corruption probe as a conspiracy between the Republican party and the GOP-controlled Plain Dealer in order to upset the Dems chances . . . or no, wait . . . they wanted county reform . . . or something. He was never really all that clear on the details; Dimora was just certain Susan Goldberg, Brent Larkin, Rob Frost, Ken Blackwell, Bob Bennett, Mark Puente, Henry Gomez, Joe Guillen and Karl Rove were all powwowing every week in a back room at Johnny's to cook up the next way to screw Jimmy in the public eye. Supposedly Dimora uncovered the plot when he caught the PD's Goldberg and Larkin at lunch with the Ohio GOP's Bob Bennett. They were laughing and giggling — those were all the clues Dimora needed to connect the dots.
"So I guess, if I would go to lunch with them and laugh and giggle and carry on, maybe I wouldn't appear on the front page in negative stories," Dimora later told the PD.
Dimora spouted this stuff at reporters often enough, but the shining example of the paranoid fantasy is this press conference from August 2009. Here, then-active county commissioner called together the media to announce he was asking the U.S. Congress and the Attorney General’s office to investigate the investigation into Cuyahoga County government. The PD was smart enough to get this thing on tape for posterity.
Today, it’s an awkward but revealing watch, like King Lear raving on the shit-pile. Face to face with the media, he just kept flinging denials and accusations against the wall, racing to the end of every bile-heavy sentence before the mechanics of grammar collapse on him altogether ("The Hindenburg and Dimora going down at the same time in the political career"). After Dimora spun out his wild fantasies, these big pauses balloon in the room, as if you can literally hear the reporters and cameramen collectively wondering, “What the hell?”
We’d like to point out here: Karl Rove was not on the trial's witness list.