Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foul Game

Finally, the new movie about Joe and Val Wilson-Plame and the Plame affair, starring activist Sean Penn, is safely in the can. It was recently screened to liberal applause at Cannes, although they probably would have clapped at the opening credits.

The IMDB page shows no actor portraying the actual leaker, Richard Armitage. And wow, doesn't that sum up the entire affair? For those who didn't follow, the cliff notes might read like this--mainstream media types saw Wilson's tale as a means to their redemption for trumping up Saddam's dangerosity dating back to the Clinton years. Like the Democrats and neocons, they were on the hook for Iraq, too.

So the leaker was not really the story, the "Bush lied people died" was the story. And mission accomplished--that meme pretty much led to the downfall of GOP political control of America culminating in a man named Hussein occupying the White House. Rove admitted as much in his book.

Now we have another scandal with a White House billing itself as the most transparent ever lowering the cone of silence, and oddly enough players in the Plame affair are weighing in with comparisons. Here's John Dickerson:
But this situation is very different than the CIA leak case in the Bush administration. The stonewalling is the same, of course, but the issue at the heart of the two is not. What the White House is covering up now is a purely political act: trying to persuade someone not to run for office. It happens all the time in politics. At the center of the leak case then was an issue of national security: specifically, the principle that the identity of CIA agents should not be made public, especially as part of an effort of political damage control. It was an exceptional story. And it came at a time when the Bush White House was also defending itself in a host of other instances where it massaged facts to make the case for an unpopular war.
Ironically, Dickerson's own role in receiving leaks remains mysterious. At any rate, this Plame analogy seems to be making the rounds on a few liberal sites, which must be their desperate way to drag Bush back into what is purely an Obama mess.

Dickerson gets to his main point (after the requisite Bush bashing equivalency set-up), which is to say that "trust us" is never acceptable coming from any administration. He's correct of course, but that's not what happened in the Plame thing. In that case the CIA initiated the criminal inquiry whereupon Justice (Ashcroft) took steps to appoint a SP. There was going to be an independent investigation no matter what Scott McClellan said at the podium whereas there will be no such thing here. With Bush it was about the "lying", with this it's about the lack of accountability and promised transparency.

A better analogy for Dickerson therefore might have been the Blago affair, where nascent Obama officials investigated their own behavior with the disgraced former governor and found absolutely nothing wrong, telling everyone to move along and see nothing regardless of what the prosecutor had in the tapes. Yes irony of ironies--the same Patrick Fitzgerald that investigated Scooter Libby.

But such is the circle of life. If there's ever a serious investigation into this Sestak mess perhaps they should start with who supplied the initial leak to Philly reporter Joe Kane. Who gave him the knowledge to ask Sestak about the job? Who "leaked"? Why? Maybe we'll see -the three-day forecast for DC is calling for sunshine, but if past is prologue those weathermen have already looked into the crystal ball and verified there's nothing to see, making it safe to look. Either that or Rahm will be spending more time with the family very soon.


That's what some pundits are scribbling based on what hacks like Dick Morris are saying. But c'mon, is this really an impeachable offense? Quid pro quos happen on both sides and have been part of politics probably since Plato--and always will be. The deal here is Sestak's stunning boldness and what it means, and Obama's glaring hypocrisy after running to clean up Bush's corruption, etc.

At worse Rahm will have to find another job; in the least, he'll get a demerit. Sestak has been driving this boat since day one--the right would be idiots for not pursuing. But saying this rises to impeachment is only making the right look unhinged. Unless there's a helluva lot of there there we don't know about yet it's best to just keep asking questions and watching their spokesmen squirm and acolytes spin.

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