Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lies, lies, and more lies

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- the Valerie Plame affair will be the Bush administration's downfall. Yeah, they've done much worse stuff (like invading Iraq on false pretenses), but it's always the little things that trip you up. Like arresting Al Capone for tax fraud (instead of murder or racketeering or whatever), or going after Nixon because of a bungled third-rate burglary. Karl Rove leaking the name of a covert CIA agent, and then lying about it, is just the kind of loose thread that can unravel the whole administration.

Hypocrisy and politics go hand in hand, but I find it particularly hypocritical how the Bushies are twisting the truth in their attempted defense of Rove's actions. Call it spin, call it misdirection, call it whatever you want, it's lying, plain and simple. The hypocrisy arises when you consider that the same folks who were appalled at Bill Clinton's playing fast and loose with the truth are doing the exact same thing in their defense of Karl Rove. Those rabid right-wingers who took great delight in grilling Clinton over "it depends on what the definition of is is" are employing similar grammatical parsing to try to explain what Rove did or didn't leak to the press about Ms. Plame. Hypocrisy in action, indeed.

First off, I particularly like the claim that Rove didn't actually leak her name. In a conversation with Time reporter Michael Cooper, Rove talked about "Wilson's wife," who worked for the CIA. Since Rove didn't actually refer to Wilson's wife as "Valerie Plame" (or "Valerie Wilson"), it's technically correct that he didn't leak her name. But that's the kind of "what is is" technical distinction that doesn't wash; he leaked her identity, which is what matters.

Next, there's the claim that Rove wasn't trying to out Plame's status as a CIA agent, he was merely trying to warn Cooper against writing a false story. There are two problems with this bit of misdirection. One, it doesn't matter what his intent was; he leaked her identity anyway. Second, it turns out that Wilson's story (about there being no Iraqi purchase of uranium rods from Niger) was true, not false. So this one doesn't wash, either.

Then we have the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which has the balls to frame the whole affair as Rove "exposing a case of CIA nepotism involving Joe Wilson and his wife." ("Thank you, Mr. Rove," the Journal says.) This misdirection or mischaracterization or whatever you want to call it is so brazen it makes you either want to laugh or puke, depending on what you had for lunch. So now Rove's the brave whistle-blower? These guys are too much, really.

It has been suggested that whatever the legal ramifications, President Bush should fire Rove for his actions in this affair. (This is partly because Bush himself once said he'd fire whoever leaked the information -- a stance conveniently ignored now.) That's not going to happen, of course. As one commentator quipped, this would be like Charlie McCarthy firing Edgar Bergen; the puppet doesn't fire the puppetmaster. So Bush, due to his legendary loyalty and the fact that Rove actually runs the joint, will stick with Turd Blossom until the bitter end.

And the bitter end might involve more Bushies than just Rove. It's not out of the question to imagine others in the administration knowing about Plame, and suggesting using that connection as a way to smear the hated Joe Wilson. Who else might have known, who else might have been involved in a conspiracy? All fingers point to the Dark Lord himself, VP Dick Cheney, as a possible co-conspirator. Hang onto your hats folks; this is going to be a bumpy ride.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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