Posts filed under 'Libby/Plame'

*happy sigh*

Me, almost two years ago:

The other two legs [of the Republican triangle], election manipulation (whether via rigged electronic voting or just plain old gaming of voting rights and opportunities) and complicit media, are still in perfect health, seemingly unafflicted by the tumors of fair play and accountability. The Democrats are strangely passive on electoral reform, and they seem resigned to the media’s preferential treatment of Republicans as a fait accompli.


Is it possible that in their blind efforts to race to the bottom common denominator, that [the media] will begin to see a backlash, wherein more and more people become disgusted with the fluff and the spin, and begin to avail themselves of the copious alternatives available in cable television’s expanded basic wasteland?

Oh, the media hacks would misread the signs at first, and frantically crank up the volume while cranking down the content in a vain effort to rekindle interest, but that would only accelerate the rate of desertion. Any network with a safe harbor of solid, reliable, in-depth news could clean up in such a scenario, although the greater probability is simply that fewer people would watch any news at all, at least until the news media finally caught on.

Or, alternatively, instead of driving people away in disgust, which is, quite frankly, difficult to do in this country, we could have the equivalent of an Enron or Watergate scandal…. I’m talking about evidence of a deliberate media whitewash or coverup of a big, important, damaging-to-Republicans story… preferably with some juicy memos or phone calls showing that Rove or other significant Republicans were applying the pressure.

The effect might only be temporary, but for at least a few years, the media would be a lot more wary about getting into bed with the Republicans, or even appearing to be. Of course, the tricky part would finding a way to propagate an anti-media story without the help of the media – blogs can only do so much.

Eric Boehlert, Tuesday (by way of Christy, today):

So as the facts of the White House cover-up now tumble out into open court, it’s important to remember that if it hadn’t been for Fitzgerald’s work, there’s little doubt the Plame story would have simply faded into oblivion like so many other disturbing suggestions of Bush administration misdeeds. And it would have faded away because lots of high-profile journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NBC wanted it to.

In a sense, it was Watergate in reverse. Instead of digging for the truth, lots of journalists tried to bury it. The sad fact remains the press was deeply involved in the cover-up, as journalists reported White House denials regarding the Plame leak despite the fact scores of them received the leak and knew the White House was spreading rampant misinformation about an unfolding criminal case.

And that’s why the Plame investigation then, and the Libby perjury trial now, so perfectly capture what went wrong with the timorous press corps during the Bush years as it routinely walked away from its responsibility of holding people in power accountable and ferreting out the facts.

I don’t think this is going to be enough to fully expose the media for the right-wing tools they are, because I don’t believe that most people are paying close attention to the details and subtext of the trial, but I think it’s enough to start making a dent. If nothing else, it’s a pretty dramatic demonstration of just how big a joke the “liberal media” myth is, and we should bring it up every time the Republicans start whining about how they can never catch a break.

February 8th, 2007 at 10:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Media,Republicans

Will His Perfidy Never End???

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1 comment February 5th, 2007 at 07:09am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Libby/Plame

(Almost) All The President’s Men

At work, we have this term, “level-set.” I’m not exactly sure why, but it basically means to step back and take stock of where a project stands and what we’re trying to do (I may not have that exactly right, but I’m still employed, so I must not be too far off). I was doing my own level-set of the Scooter Libby trial, but instead of looking at it from the perspective of Scooter’s guilt or innocence or prospects, I was thinking about the sheer number of leakers involved, and who they work for.

By my count, there are at least five government-to-media leakers (in no particular order): Libby, Rove, Ari Fleischer, Dan Bartlett, and Richard Armitage – did I miss anyone? So far in the trial, Dick Cheney has been portrayed as the criminal mastermind orchestrating all of these leaks (except maybe Armitage’s), yet all the leakers but Libby reported primarily to Bush, not Cheney.

Three thoughts, related and not:

1) Five leakers sounds like a full-court press to me. Are we really supposed to believe that even a president as clueless as Dubya was not aware of what his #2 and his “brain” were up to?

2) Are we really supposed to believe that, as his defense contends, Libby was so distracted by Important And Busy Responsibilities to remember any particulars about Plame or the leakage?

3) Did Ari resign so he wouldn’t have to be in the awkward position of having to answer media questions about a leak that he himself participated in?

5 comments January 31st, 2007 at 08:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Libby/Plame,Politics,Wankers

Making A Little More Sense Now…

Good news-bad news from the Libby trial:

A former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney gave testimony in the trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr. on Thursday that directly contradicted Mr. Libby’s version of events during a crucial period that is at the center of the perjury case against him.

Cathie Martin, Mr. Cheney’s former spokeswoman, testified that she had a clear memory of telling both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby that a prominent war critic’s wife worked for the C.I.A., days before he contends he first learned it from a reporter.


She testified that both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were intensely interested in Ms. Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had been sent to Africa to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger for his nuclear weapons program.

Ms. Martin, who no longer works for Mr. Cheney but remains at the White House as a communications assistant to the president, described how Mr. Libby had telephoned a senior Central Intelligence Agency official in her presence sometime in early July and asked about the Wilson trip. She said she was then put on the phone with Bill Harlow, the C.I.A. spokesman, who told her that Mr. Wilson went to Africa on behalf of the agency and that his wife worked there.

She testified that, later that day, in a meeting with Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney, she related the fact that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the agency.

Mr. Libby is facing five felony counts that he lied when he told a grand jury and F.B.I. agents that he learned of Ms. Wilson’s identity from reporters….


Over all, however, Ms. Martin was a self-assured witness whose testimony appeared to have frayed Mr. Libby’s version of events. She is also a loyal Republican who was recruited to work for the vice president by Mary Matalin, a close friend of both Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney.

She is married to Kevin Martin, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and now works as the deputy director of communications for policy and planning for President Bush.

The good news is that her testimony further damages Libby’s credibility (as well as further implicating Cheney). The bad news is that her and her husband’s White House ties play right into Scooter Libby’s scapegoat defense, which Wells will use to spin and dismiss any testimony from Bush/Rove loyalists (Ari Fleischer, who testifies next, will fall into that category as well).

Also, I wonder if Wells will ask the question that came to my mind: Why is the spokesman for the CIA telling people who its agents are? Did the CIA want that information to get out there? Does that make any sense?

FDL is probably all over this angle, but I can’t access it from my Treo any more…

January 26th, 2007 at 09:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Libby/Plame,Politics

Okay, So…

If Libby’s defense strategy is to claim that the Bushies are making Libby a scapegoat to protect Rove…

What kind of proof do they have to provide to make that case? Would it be enough to get Rover indicted?

And as a special bonus, it looks like both the prosecution and the defense are portraying Cheney as the Grand Puppetmaster orchestrating the leakage. Mwahahahaha.

1 comment January 23rd, 2007 at 09:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Libby/Plame,Politics,Rove,Wankers

Still Not Reassured

Well, the ever-dependable watertiger tried to cheer me up under my woe-is-me-Rove-is-free post by pointing me towards the shining beacon of legal insight that is firedoglake, where Christy (and Otis) have some postmortem analysis on the Rove non-indictment, basically to the effect that it looks like Rove might have cut a deal to rat out a bigger fish (can a fish be ratted out?). WT also suggested that the Wilsons might now hit Rove with a civil suit, which would distract and frustrate him during this year’s midterm campaign.

So a lot of my fellow liberals are now all excited by the prospect of Rove helping Fitz nail Cheney. It would certainly be an impressive scalp, but trading Rove for Cheney doesn’t really make my heart sing. The thing is, Rove is still a major asset to the Republicans. Nobody else is as good at throwing slime around, or at packaging fear and hate as courage and virtue – tricks the Republicans will desperately need to distract the voters from their godawful track record while In Charge Of Everything.

Conversely, as emptywheel observes (again by way of FDL), Cheney is a liability, an uncharismatic and immovable loose cannon who makes the administration look bad. Throwing him to the wolves could actually be a net positive for Bush and the Republicans, especially if it gave them an opportunity to start grooming Bush’s successor so he could run as an incumbent vice-president (or president, should the Dems retake Congress and become uncharacteristally spinal).

The other problem with a Cheney indictment is that it’s less harmful from an image perspective. Rove is unquestionably Bush’s creature, and anything he does reflects directly on his master, who is unquestionably the face of the Republican party. Cheney, on the other hand, is a separate power center unto himself, and if he gets indicted, the media and Bush’s surrogates can use that to distance his actions from the president. If Cheney notoriously does his own thing and doesn’t really report to Bush, then Bush can’t be responsible for his crimes. Yes, I know that should reflect badly on Bush The Strong Leader, but it’ll be glossed over with a what-can-you-do-about-those-headstrong-employees shake of the head (remember how no-one questioned Bill Keller letting Judy Miller run wild at the NYT?).

As for the possibility of the Wilsons filing a civil suit against Rove, it seems a poor consolation prize. First of all, I don’t know if a civil suit can gain steam fast enough to hamper Rove’s midterm machinations (Little help? Any lawyers in the house?). Second of all, I don’t think a civil suit is something that would trigger a Rovesignation. Third of all, it’s a lot easier to spin a lawsuit brought by an individual (especially a self-promoting, unhinged moonbat individual!) than a lawsuit brought by The Federal Government. A Wilson lawsuit would simply be disparaged as harassment by a sore loser who just can’t stand it that his bete noire couldn’t be taken down by “legitimate” means.

I know, I know. It’s not over yet. Fitz may still have some more shoes to drop, and maybe Rove screws up and gets indicted after all. In December.

3 comments June 13th, 2006 at 07:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Favorites,Libby/Plame,Politics,Rove,Wankers


Fitz goes soft on us:

The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.

The decision by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, announced in a letter to Mr. Rove’s lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, lifted a pall that had hung over Mr. Rove who testified on five occasions to a federal grand jury about his involvement in the disclosure of an intelligence officer’s identity.

In a statement, Mr. Luskin said, “On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove.”

Based on everything I’ve read about Fitz, the only conceivable (and non-tinfoil) explanation is that he didn’t think he could prove wrongdoing. Rove is one slippery sumbitch.

I think it’s time for Jason Leopold to burn his sources (if indeed he ever had any) and go away forever.

UPDATE: The big problem with this is not just the obvious fact that Rove will have a free hand to orchestrate yet another campaign of smears, dirty tricks, and faux-patriotism/Christianity (it is my fondest hope that this is the year that the voters see through it and decisively reject it, but I won’t hold my breath). The other big problem is that now, unless Bush and/or Cheney are indicted (not likely) the administration can deploy the One Bad Apple spin to dismiss Libby as just an overzealous rogue operator.

“Certainly we directed Scooter to counter Mr. Wilson’s outrageous slander, but my goodness, we never expected him to resort to anything improper or illegal. That’s simply not how we do things in this administration .” And yes, they really would be able to say this with a straight face.

UPDATE 2: As I think about Leopold’s “Sealed Vs. Sealed” piece, I have to wonder whether Leopold was really reporting, or just covering his own sloppy ass. It certainly is convenient for Leopold if he can say he was totally right that Fitz was just about to indict Rove, but then AG^2 stepped in, and No-One Will Ever Know because it’s a Secret.

Also, welcome to Daou Report readers! I’m not entirely sure what I did to merit a link, so I’m assuming it’s random. But I’m still happy to have it. Um, if you’re serious political wonks, please don’t read the Mosquitophone or Bollywood Superhero posts. Thank you.

UPDATE 3: Arrgh. I must apologize for conflating Leopold’s “Sealed Vs. Sealed” article with some of the speculation surrounding it. Leopold himself makes no claim that it has anything to do with an attempt to suppress Fitz. He just points out its existence and irregularity, although I would not be surprised if the aforementioned speculation was exactly what he was hoping for. I think he’s clean on this, but he’s still hopelessly discredited, fit only to work for the Republicans. Has anyone, ahem, filled Jeff Gannon’s slot in the WH press corps?

18 comments June 13th, 2006 at 07:33am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Rove,Wankers


Please, please, please let this be true:

Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

Thanks to watertiger and Attaturk for the heads-up.

If true, the immediate resignation might just be the last time he covers Bush’s ass, as I can easily picture Dubya choking on his own rhetorical pretzels trying to rationalize Rove’s continued employment otherwise.

4 comments May 12th, 2006 at 07:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Politics,Rove,Wankers

Iran’s So Far Away… I Hope.

This would have been good to know before the 2004 election (by way of Atrios):


Not that this is really a huge surprise. We already knew her focus was nuclear proliferation, so there was a pretty good chance that her beat would be one of the “Axis Of Evil” countries. And, of course, as multiple people have pointed out, taking her and Brewster Jennings out of action is kinda of a nice two-fer if you want to increase uncertainty about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Especially if you happen know that they’re nowhere near having any.

But imagine if this little nugget had come out in late 2004. Anyone who wasn’t mainlining Republican Kool-Aid had to know that Bush was at the very least indirectly responsible for leaking Plame’s name. Any doubts about this truth were laid to rest when Bush made no effort to personally find the leaker, and even backpedaled on his criteria for fireage: from mere involvement, to criminal wrongdoing (presumably conviction or at least indictment). And if memory serves, there was already quite a bit of rumbling and chest-thumping about Iran’s nuclear aspirations and involvement in Iraq. In any kind of sane, rational world, the revelation that the president blew up an entire CIA operation monitoring Nukular Enemy #2, just to settle a political score would be pretty damaging. It would have completely undermined Candidate Bush’s meticulous and fact-free packaging as The Only Man Who Can Keep Us Safe From Nuclear Terror.

Since we missed the opportunity in 2004, maybe we can take advantage this year. If Bush and the Republicans decide to re-use the 2002 force-the-Democrats-to-go-along-with-a-phony-war-and-then-
call-them-weak-anyway playbook, the Democrats should ask why, if Iran is such a threat, the president would be so cavalier about burning Brewster-Jennings. And while they’re at it, they should be asking voters how they feel about $4 or $5 gasoline…

May 1st, 2006 at 11:43pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Favorites,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Conversations With Lyndon

“The Johnson Treatment,” by George Tames (hat-tip to spork)

So last night I dreamt that I had a brief conversation with Lyndon Johnson, who was still alive and in good shape, puttering around and giving environmental presentations in the enormous $1.5 billion planetarium complex he purchased in 1965 (the dream was unclear as to whether it was staffed by his complimentary ex-president Secret Service detail).

Unfortunately, the details of my dreams tend to evaporate very quickly, so all I can remember at this point is that he said that the current crop of Dems “needs muscle,” and they never consult with him on anything. Then I got chased around for a while and ended up hiding under a hedge, clutching a safety pin that Malcolm McDowell gave me. It’s amazing how insightful dreams can be.

The fact is, the Dems could stand to take some advice from Lyndon Johnson, who, while flawed, was also forceful and determined. He actually sacrificed votes for principle, signing the Civil Rights Act while acknowledging it would lose the South for a generation (we should be getting it back soon, right?). Who knows, he might even have some good what-not-to-do advice on how to get out of Iraq…

The Democrats, on the other hand, are actually sacrificing votes through lack of principle. For several months now, we’ve been accusing the Democrats of poll-driven calculation. This is not really an accurate criticism. Assuming they’ve been reading the same polls I have, their error has been poll-ignoring calculation. The polls are saying quite clearly that everyone except the Republicans is thoroughly fed up with Bush and the Republicans, yet the Democrats continue to make excuses and do nothing. The Dems are not just missing an opportunity to improve their stature at the Republicans’ expense, they are in fact hurting themselves by ignoring the public mood and failing to oppose a very unpopular regime.

Now the latest really big shoe has dropped in the Plame investigation, and it appears to finger the president (can shoes finger?). Worse yet, there is evidence floating around that the Plame leak was part of a larger coverup to conceal the President’s knowledge that the case for war was bogus, at least until the 2004 election was safely over. If (and this is a big if) these two stories can be tied together in the public mind – “The president authorized a damaging leak to obscure the fact that he blew up Iraq and killed 2300 Americans for no good reason” – I think we’re going to see a groundswell in support for impeachment. I’ve been lukewarm on impeachment because I believe it’s a mistake to impeach when there’s no public support for it. But it’s an even bigger mistake not to impeach when there is public support for it. Sure, it’ll piss off Republican voters, but they’re already a lost cause. Give the rest of us something to root for and vote for, I’m begging you.

2 comments April 7th, 2006 at 08:45am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Favorites,Impeachment,Libby/Plame,Politics,Wankers


Wow. I admit I’ve only been paying passing attention to this Claude Allen refund fraud story, but I’ve been getting a healthy dose of knowledge from today’s White House Briefing column (All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin be praised; blessed is his wisdom), and a variety of little tidbits jump out at me:

First, Froomkin himself points out the difference between the official White House reaction to Allen’s felony charges vs. their reaction to Libby’s – shock and embarrassment about Allen, expressions of support and admiration for Libby:

Spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday night that if the allegations against Allen are true, “no one would be more disappointed, shocked and outraged” than the president.


But it was starkly different than the response to Libby’s indictment. In that case, the White House didn’t express any misgivings whatsoever. There was no acknowledgement of how serious the charges were, or what it would mean if they were true. There was no expression of even hypothetical disappointment, shock or outrage. There was no suggestion that anyone in the White House might have been lied to. There were no regrets — except, of course, that Libby had to resign.

Here is the text of Bush’s remarks about Libby: “Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country. He served the Vice President and me through extraordinary times in our nation’s history.”


Now that the White House has demonstrated the ability to respond in the conventional way to criminal charges filed against a member of its senior staff, it becomes even more abundantly clear that in the Libby matter, it assertively chose not to do so.

The inescapable conclusion is that either Bush and Cheney think Libby’s innocent — or they don’t think what he’s accused of doing was in any way wrong.

Actually, scratch that. If they thought he was innocent, they could just say so. Nothing wrong with saying: We don’t think he did it, but let’s allow the legal system to do its job. So that leaves only option B: They don’t think that what Libby is accused of doing was wrong.

Froomkin probably could have taken this a step further and observed that A) Libby’s alleged wrongdoing was on the administration’s behalf, and B) Libby almost certainly has some potentially very embarrassing beans to spill on the culpability of other administration bigshots, so they have a vested interest in not pissing him off.

Onward! Also from the WaPo:

Allen is friends with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: “The two would often go to lunch, sometimes talking about the burdens of being black conservatives. ‘He would always say to make sure I conducted myself appropriately,’ Allen recalled in an interview last year.”

How’s that workin’ out for ya, Claude?

And finally, from Newsweek, an inside look at the real White House staff reaction:

As one White House aide, who asked for anonymity to avoid embarrassing the administration, put it, “When you hear about a White House official getting busted, you’d hope it would be for something so much better than this, like securities fraud or embezzlement. But robbing a Target? Are you kidding me?”

Ahh, the Republican mindset in all its febrile glory – how dare Allen disgrace the Grand Old Party with such amateurish penny-ante schemes!

Entertaining as it is, I think this is similar to the Cheney-Shot-A-Guy-In-The-Face! story. In itself, it’s not a huge deal, largely because it’s not particularly damning of Bush or his policies, but it is revelatory about the fundamental Republican character. It’s yet another data point in the “Republicans are corrupt, arrogant, and unaccountable” narrative that the Democrats need to be pushing hard this year.

I would actually prefer something along the lines of “The GOP is the party of hypocrisy and moral rot,” but I guess that’s probably not sufficiently genteel…

1 comment March 13th, 2006 at 04:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Favorites,Libby/Plame,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

How Conveeeeeenient.

This doesn’t sound fishy at all…

A federal judge on Friday set former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s trial date in the CIA leak case for January 2007, two months after the midterm congressional elections.

The trial for Libby, who faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges, will begin with jury selection Jan. 8, said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. Walton said he had hoped to start the trial in September but one of Libby’s lawyers had a scheduling conflict that made an earlier date impractical.

Walton said he does not like “to have a case linger” but had no choice because Libby attorney Ted Wells will be tied up for 10 weeks in another case.

Granted, I am not a professional law-talking guy, but 14-15 months seems like an awfully long time between indictment and trial…

2 comments February 3rd, 2006 at 10:58am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Politics

Peter Daou Is Almost Right.

Atrios has linked to a couple of excellent but pessimistic posts by Peter Daou, in which he deconstructs the reasons why liberals and Democrats have been so ineffective in countering Republicans in general, and how they will fail to make the latest NSA spying scandal stick in particular.

On the whole, I think he is disturbingly accurate about the disconnect between the out-of-touch, don’t-rock-the-boat Democratic party establishment and the eloquent, and passionate liberal netroots, but it seems to me that he overlooks one very important fact: The law doesn’t care. Fitzgerald doesn’t care. The Republicans and their media allies can lie and spin all they want, but they can’t make indictments go away, and they’re piling up. “Duke” Cunningham’s already fessed up and resigned. DeLay, Libby, possibly Frist, possibly a whole mess of congresscritters on Abramoff’s payroll, are all under indictment now or in the near future. Even a wholly corporate-owned media can’t bury that, much less prevent it. And that will be a drag on Republican attempts to further consolidate their power in the 2006 and 2008 elections – especially those candidates who are indicted or otherwise tainted by scandal.

Indeed, Daou himself makes this remarkable statement about this latest outrage:

The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his ‘resolve’ and toughness.

When a party’s strategy is to “blend” new scandals in with a steaming pile of other scandals, I think it’s safe to say they could be in some serious electoral jeopardy, especially at the state and local level. For while that approach may be successful at the national level, I am fairly certain that the voters in indictees’ states and districts will echo Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinnie: “Oh yeah. You blend.”

This leaves only the president, who, if I understand the process correctly, can only be brought to trial via the impeachment process, which is really quite extraordinary – imagine a murder suspect who has confessed, but can only be indicted if his enemies outvote his friends. Also, what happens if the FOIA succeeds and the NSA is forced to release their list of wiretappees, and one or more of them decide to sue? Could they sue the president, or only the federal government in general? Could Bush face criminal charges when he leaves office? Can any law-talkin’ folks help me out here?

In any case, even if there is no impeachment, Bush is still gone in 2009. And if a wave of scandals washes away a whole bunch of Republican reps and senators in 2006, then Bush’s reign of terror is effectively over, which is a very important short-term goal.

11 comments December 21st, 2005 at 10:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Democrats,Favorites,Impeachment,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Poll Lotta Trouble For The Republicans

Wow. Maybe we really have turned the corner. Latest WSJ poll, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin (more on him later today):

“A majority of U.S. adults believe the Bush administration generally misleads the public on current issues, while fewer than a third of Americans believe the information provided by the administration is generally accurate, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.”

Overall, 64 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration “generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends” — including 91 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 28 percent of Republicans.

The Journal also reports: “When asked about former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, who has been indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements, more than half of U.S. adults say the situation indicates ‘a larger problem in the Bush administration,’ while 35% say it was an ‘isolated incident.’ About 82% of Democrats say it indicates a larger problem, while 70% of Republicans feel the Libby case is an isolated incident.”

This really is huge. Public perceptions that the Bushies or Republicans in general are lying on a specific issue are damaging, but as long as they’re seen as isolated incidents rather than part of a pattern of Republican behavior, the damage can be contained. But now, even without any high-profile Democratic effort to frame each scandal as part of an underlying pattern of Republican dishonesty and incompetence, that message is clearly getting through to all but the most diehard and unreachable of the Kool-Aid drinkers. I think it’s telling that these questions were even asked, and by the WSJ, no less.

I can’t understate this enough: Even as Bush’s approval rating slouches toward 30%, this is the most encouraging poll result I’ve seen in the 5 long years of the Bush II Dynasty. There is one last remaining step that I am eagerly awaiting: for the cancer on the presidency to metastasize and begin rupturing red cells outside the White House. It would be the first time cancer ever made its host healthier.

6 comments November 23rd, 2005 at 03:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Libby/Plame,Politics,Polls,Republicans

I Am So Sick Of This Excuse

As the heat has turned up on the Plame investigation and the increasingly-obvious dodginess of the pre-war intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, I am seeing a revival of the “Everyone thought Saddam had WMDs; even Clinton thought so!” canard.

I just want to point out two things that these arguments oh-so-conveniently overlook:

1) Assuming Jonah Goldberg’s cutesy little gotcha piece is representative, Clinton’s belief in Saddam’s WMDs is past-tense, as his sanctions and inspections were instrumental in eliminating them. It’s a bit like Truman using FDR’s warnings about Hitler as a rationale to invade Germany in 1947 (“Even FDR thought Germany was a threat!”).

2) The “everyone” who thought Saddam had WMDs was not privy to all the CIA warnings and caveats about Saddam’s alleged WMDs, including those about the unreliability of sources like Chalabi, “Curveball”, and al-Libi, who the administration nevertheless relied heavily upon in building their case for war. This, to me, is far more damning than the timeshift dodge, because it speaks directly to the Bush administration’s fundamental duplicity. It knowingly promoted flawed intel while suppressing knowledge of said flaws, then used the wool-pulling result of its own deceptions as the cover of consensus.

If this doesn’t come crashing down around Bush and the Republicans, this country is in deep, deep trouble. I estimate our chances are 50-50 at best (see previous post on the parlous paucity of the pauper press).

1 comment November 7th, 2005 at 12:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Iraq,Libby/Plame,Republicans,War

Not Sure If This Is Good Or Bad…

Howie Kurtz leads today’s Media Notes column with examples of how the press’s diminished reputation and credibility is beginning to have a concrete effect: staffing cuts.

The journalism business is suffering from a double-barreled depression that stretches far beyond the travails of a single paper. If the industry were a person, a shrink would prescribe Prozac.

The methods and ethics of reporters, and their coziness with unnamed sources, is under attack as never before, just as mounting financial woes are prompting top news organizations to agonize over why their audience continues to shrink. Anyone who thinks these trends are unconnected hasn’t spent time in a newsroom lately.

The indictment of Lewis “Scooter” Libby over his you-didn’t-get-this-from-me discussions with Tim Russert, Matt Cooper and Miller has dramatized the sagging reputation of reporters. Rather than digging out vital information, they are seen as conduits for political sniping and worse. The poster children for the press right now are Miller and Robert Novak, who has refused to discuss why he helped two senior administration officials in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

As Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times writes: “The Libby indictment shows that this administration has made monkeys of the Washington press corps by playing on its desire for access, for party chatter, for being on the inside looking out instead of the outside looking in.”

(insert brief pause for wankery about how the Iraq war wasn’t the press’s fault because the administration was so gosh-darn determined to invade that an informed public wouldn’t have made a lick of difference)

While this debate rages, the industry’s own news has been relentlessly downbeat. The Philadelphia Inquirer just lost 15 percent of its editorial staff to buyouts and isn’t guaranteeing that others can keep their beats, prompting veteran reporter Daniel Rubin to write: “We’re having so many meetings, it’s a wonder we can get the paper out.” The Boston Globe is dismantling its national staff. Nearly 12 percent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s editorial staff just accepted buyouts. The Baltimore Sun has closed two of its five foreign bureaus, shrunk its Washington bureau from 15 to seven and laid off columnist Jules Witcover. Knight Ridder’s largest shareholder called last week for the sale of the company. Goldman Sachs says this “is shaping up as the industry’s worst year” since the 2001 recession.

Of course, most newspapers still make plenty of money, just not enough to satisfy Wall Street. But the net effect is a downsizing wave that will hurt the core product.

While it’s great from a schadenfreude perspective that the media are beginning to reap what their complicit laziness has sown, I’m having trouble getting excited about them cutting their reportorial resources back even more, since lack of actual reporting is what got them and the country into their respective messes in the first place. So even if the media really has learned its lesson, does it still have the manpower to do anything about it?

I can’t help but wonder if this is all part of a master plan to provide the media a permanent alibi for not doing their jobs, but a conspiracy theory is probably not necessary when simple incompetence and small-mindedness is explanation enough (See: Hurricane Katrina, President Bush, and black people).

3 comments November 7th, 2005 at 11:27am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Media

More Fitzbits

Just a couple of thoughts that occurred to me as I was talking to a coworker about the Plame investigation:

1) How is it that there doesn’t appear to be any criminal statute that simply covers revealing classified information, regardless of intent? Also, law aside, how many employees could avoid being fired for revealing confidential information with the excuse that they didn’t know it was confidential? I know if I tried that with my boss, the response would be, “You should have checked. Buh-bye.”

(Note: I don’t buy that that this is actually the case here. It seems highly unlikely that Libby did not know Plame was covert. I believe Josh Marshall pointed out that Libby knew that her counterproliferation group was under the Directorate Of Operations, which is Spyworld, plus if he was on that Air Force Two flight with the memo about her, there’s a good chance he saw the notation that explicitly stated that her identity was secret.)

2) What would have happened if Novak declined to report that Plame was CIA? Would Rove & Libby have just shrugged and said, “Oh well, we did our best to out a covert operative for cheap political payback, but it was just not to be,” or would they have just kept shopping it around to progressively less scrupulous “journalists” until a Drudge or Limbaugh or Coulter or Hannity or Malkin (Phew! There sure are a lot of them, aren’t there?) took the bait? Would they trust them to display the same kind of *snort* journalistic integrity as Judy Miller? *snicker* Would they have paid Armstrong Williams or one of their fake news anchors to get the word out? Held a press conference? What?

Update: I talked to my coworker again, and he suggested that they simply would have searched for new ways to slander Wilson, once their first choice (treason is always the first option that comes to my mind, but I’m a liberal) fell through.

1 comment November 1st, 2005 at 11:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Libby/Plame,Media


I’m probably way late to the party with these, but I have a few quick observations from WaPo’s article about the Democrats demanding Rove’s head:

1) The intriguing inference (if I’m reading it correctly) that Fitzgerald let Libby off the hook about the actual leakage as the result of a plea agreement, and not because he didn’t think he could prove it. Or perhaps he’s leaving the “big” charge out there to hold over Libby’s head as additional incentive to testify against Rove or Cheney. As if a max of 30 years isn’t enough. On the other hand, “traitor” is a hard word to live down.

2) How weird is it that Trent (Vote For Strom!) Lott is trying to be the conscience of the Republican party? When Trent Lott is your party’s moral compass, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re deep in the wilderness and very, very lost.

3) The longer and tighter Bush clings to Rove’s rotting political corpse, the better. Let the stink of corruption & death get rubbed all over him real real good.

October 31st, 2005 at 08:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Libby/Plame,Politics,Republicans,Rove

Scooter Scoots! SCOTUS?

Well, I mean, he’s available, and there’s an opening Bush is
looking to fill. What’s a little indictment between cronies?

October 28th, 2005 at 02:01pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Judiciary,Libby/Plame


I haven’t blogged much or at all on the upcoming Fitzgerald indictments, because I haven’t really had anything blogworthy to add to the discussion, but this juicy tidbit from the Wall Street Journal (by way of WaPo’s White House Briefing) just jumped out at me, and I had to point it out:

It is expected that any indictments will be very detailed and discuss the involvement of other White House officials who aren’t being charged.


*reaches for popcorn*

4 comments October 27th, 2005 at 02:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Libby/Plame

Clean Hands & Dry Powder

Now that I’m over the initial “Woohoo!” reaction to Harriet Miers withdrawing her Supreme Court nomination, I find I am having another, somewhat milder “Woohoo!” reaction to it. Not only did President Bush suffer yet another embarrassing political defeat, but it came at the hands of his own party, and not the Democrats.

Yes, I know they’re spinning it as being the result of those mean old Dems demanding that Bush violate executive privilege by sharing some kind of paper trail of her past activities, but really her nomination failed because she got barely any support at all from Congressional Republicans.

This to me is by far the best case outcome – Bush does not get to saddle the Supreme Court with an unqualified crony, and it didn’t require any concerted resistance from the Democrats at all, which means that they are free to oppose a wingnut nominee without looking like unreasonable obstructionists out to blindly sabotage anyone the President trots out there.

Better yet, Bush has to name his next nominee in the wake of the Plame indictments, and a Rove/Cheney braintrust that will be distracted and off their game (or even out of the picture entirely). I could see him going either way, either tapping a qualified centrist to avoid a fight with the Dems, or a raving whackaloon to avoid a fight with his base.

All other things being equal, I would expect Bush to attack the Democrats, who have a long history of folding ignominiously, but I can’t imagine a worse climate than right now (by which I mean “next week”) to try to shove a right-wing ideologue down the Democrats’ throats. Worse yet for Bush, as 2006 approaches, more and more Republicans will be trying to distance themselves from his sinking presidency, so he will have a much harder time convincing moderate Republicans to hold their noses and stand with him on a controversial nominee.

I suppose he could threaten to campaign for them…

In all seriousness, what I think Bush should do is get a list of impeccably qualified judges with brilliant legal minds, and use that as the starting point for whatever ideological calculation he chooses to make. What I think he will do, given that he may have no political savvy or expertise outside his own to rely on, is to fall back on what his gut is comfortable with. Which means yet another trusted crony. Which means… Abu Gonzales, your time has come at last! Get out there and help Big-Time Dick stump for torture!

3 comments October 27th, 2005 at 01:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Corruption/Cronyism,Judiciary,Libby/Plame,Republicans,Rove

All I Needed To Hear…

If anyone has any doubts about just how compromised and awful the NY Times is, this letter to the editor should dispel them all:

I really dislike your newspaper. I think that too many times you are blatantly biased. Your thinly veiled pro-liberal viewpoints actually harm your cause, since those of us who are Republicans learn to disregard your opinions as being predictable and, frankly, useless in any constructive debate about an issue.

Nonetheless, you deserve credit for your article about Judith Miller. Its criticisms of your paper and Ms. Miller were forthright and, by all appearances, sincere. It is about time.

Perhaps there are reasons for us conservatives to read your newspaper after all. Keep up the honesty. It becomes you.

Attaboys from the wingnuts. Mission accomplished, NYT. Well done.

*slow clap*

They also got this gem:

As a former journalist and current college teacher, I think The Times did the right thing in defending Judith Miller and her decision to protect her sources. Clearly the publisher’s support meant a lot to Ms. Miller.

I think that it’s of little consequence that The Times was scooped on aspects of this story. That The Times does not follow the scoop mentality of many other national news media is among the reasons The Times remains The Times.

Those of us old enough to remember publication of the Pentagon Papers know that The Times is willing to take the lead when appropriate. The paper’s handling of coverage of the Miller case illustrates that The Times is also willing be to patient when circumstances demand.

I am sure that all who value the principles that support a free press are relieved that Ms. Miller is out of jail, and grateful to Ms. Miller and The Times for having taken this courageous and patient stand.

Yes, kudos to the NYT for rising above that insidious scoop mentality that afflicts so many other, lesser papers. It just makes them look like overeager, grasping little strivers, and that’s sooooo unattractive. Why, it’s almost as bad as that “seeking the objective truth” mentality, but fortunately that was stamped out several years ago, like polio.

Where do they FIND these people???

1 comment October 17th, 2005 at 10:58am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

It Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Band Of Amoral Scum!

WaPo points out that there’s second-term scandals, and then there’s second-term scandals. This is largely not news, I just really like looking at it…

A series of scandals involving some of the most powerful Republicans in Washington have converged to disrupt President Bush’s agenda, distract aides and allies, and exacerbate political problems for an already weakened administration, according to party strategists and White House advisers.

With Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove returning to a grand jury as early as today, associates said the architect of Bush’s presidency has been preoccupied with his legal troubles, a diversion that some say contributed to the troubled handling of Harriet Miers’s nomination to the Supreme Court. White House officials are privately bracing for the possibility that Rove or other officials could be indicted in the next two weeks.

Bush’s main partners on Capitol Hill likewise are spending time defending themselves as the president’s legislative initiatives founder. The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for alleged campaign funding illegalities has thrown Republicans into one of the most tumultuous periods of their 11-year reign and created the prospect of a leadership battle. And while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) deals with a subpoena in an insider-trading investigation, a bipartisan majority rebuked Bush over torture policies.


“The Rove thing has gotten to be enormously distracting,” said one outside adviser to the White House. “Knowing the way the White House works, being under subpoena like this, your mind is not on your work, it’s on that.”

“It looks like a perfect storm,” said Joseph E. diGenova, a Republican and former independent counsel, who noted that so many investigations can weigh on an administration. “People have no idea what happens when an investigation gets underway. It’s debilitating. It’s not just distracting. It’s debilitating. It’s like getting punched in the stomach.”

But, on the other hand…

…[S]candal historically has ripened in second terms, including Watergate for Richard M. Nixon, the Iran-contra affair for Ronald Reagan, and the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation for Bill Clinton. “It always comes back,” said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia scholar who has written on Washington scandals. “There may be a couple of dry years occasionally, but it is a style of American politics — always has been, always will be. And now it’s back with a vengeance.”

…”Some of it is cyclical politically,” said Leonard A. Leo, who has taken leave as executive vice president of the conservative Federalist Society to help promote the Miers nomination. “And some of it, I’ll be honest, is when the left and the Democrats are losing the battle of ideas, they turn to manufacturing scandal.”

In the end, some Republicans argue, it will not add up to much or turn off voters. “I don’t think people feel there is a sleaze factor at all,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), adding that most voters are more aggrieved over excessive spending and gas prices.

I think alphabetically consecutive wankers Kingston and Leo may just be whistling, even yodelling past the graveyard here. When was the last time there were investigations and indictments swirling around the majority leaders of both houses of Congress, the deputy chief of staff, and the deputy’s chief of staff? If this doesn’t prove the Republicans are the official party of corruption, I don’t know what does. And if the Democrats can’t make hay with this, they might as well not field any candidates at all.

1 comment October 14th, 2005 at 06:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Republicans,Rove,Wankers


Okay, so, maybe it’s a bit premature to ask this while I can still see the fan blades, but how the HELL was a no-nonsense, straight-arrow hardass mob prosecutor like Fitzgerald allowed anywhere near Plamegate?

Did they think they had committed the perfect crime (or that no-one would care), or have we been suckered by The Mother Of All Ratfucks?

3 comments October 6th, 2005 at 06:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Republicans

Consolidated Cindy@Crawford Contemplations

This is another one of those posts where I try to pull together some musings that have been scattered here and there in comments, in this case some thoughts on Cindy@Crawford, who I think is more of a threat to Bush than Plamegate could ever be.

To elaborate: Unless and until there are indictments or maybe even convictions in L’Affaire Plame, I don’t think it’s devastating, because there’s simply too much room to bandy about half-truths and technicalities and just generally obfuscate and murk things up. Oh, she wasn’t really covert. Oh, they didn’t really out her. Oh, they didn’t really know she was covert. Oh, it’s not really a crime, and anyway, the president didn’t know about it. And so on, and so on. Enough reality has seeped through to severely damage Bush’s poll numbers on honesty – which was supposed to be one of his advantages over those sleazy, morally relativist Democrats – but I don’t think it’s fatal, and I think it’s something that people will forget about when the next blonde girl runs away and gets eaten by a shark. It’ll stay in the back of their minds and they won’t trust Bush quite as unconditionally as they used to, but many of them will still trust him more than the Democrats, which is all he really needs.

On the other hand, Bush’s treatment of Cindy Sheehan damages him on multiple levels, and strikes to the very core of his carefully crafted character. Bush is supposed to be strong and resolute, but he’s afraid to “confront” the mother of a soldier who died in his war. He’s supposed to be a “compassionate conservative”, and a salt-of-the-earth man’s man who cares deeply about our troops, yet he allows his minions to tell the aforementioned mother to stay in the ditch, and threaten to arrest her. All of this exposes his cowardice, arrogance, and unaccountability in a way that the Democrats have never been able to make stick. And it does it in a way that’s almost impossible to spin or obfuscate. There are no legal technicalities here, no confusion to sow – everyone understands the situation, and everyone knows Bush is ducking and covering. So far, the talking points I’ve heard have been that Cindy flip-flopped from her initial reaction to meeting Bush, and that her dead son wouldn’t approve of what she’s doing(!), and both of those are weak and beside the point.

The only thing that would be better is if Bush actually gives in and talks to her… on camera. Remember his peevish reaction to European interviewers who were not properly deferential? Now imagine him snapping at a dead troop’s mother on national television. I suspect she would snap back, which would just make him even meaner. This could be the Dead Zone moment I’ve been waiting for, where he finally exposes his true colors for all to see.

Of course, as always, much depends on how much interest the media has in covering this story. There’s certainly a good chance that the corporate ownership will be more than willing to forgo a powerful and compelling story to protect their sugar daddy. Their ability to obsessively and breathlessly cover celebrity trials and missing white girls, even in the absence of any meaningful updates, should translate very well to this sort of long-term vigil situation.

I also wanted to make a comment about strategy: I know there’s an impulse to send as many people as possible down to Crawford for a show of solidarity, and to draw more media attention.

Don’t. Please.

Cindy doesn’t need more people to make her a more compelling story – she carries more weight as a lonely, solitary figure than she does at the center of a giant impromptu political rally. How much impact would those photos of her vigil have if she was surrounded by people waving signs and chanting slogans? More importantly, it makes her easier to frame and dismiss (and arrest) as the MoveOn-backed ringleader of an unruly, dangerous mob stalking the president. I don’t mind her having a support system of friends, and/or a posse of other war widows and bereaved mothers (just try arresting all of them, I dare you) – I just don’t want to see this turn into a Democrat-sponsored circus that makes Cindy look like a partisan tool. In other words, less really is more.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Viggo Mortensen stopped by “Camp Casey” today…

9 comments August 11th, 2005 at 05:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cindy Sheehan,Favorites,Iraq,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Polls,Wankers,War

Speaking Treason Fluently

A friend of mine at work tipped me off to this David Corn post, which features absolutely devastating testimony from an former CIA case officer James Marcinkowski (I apologize for the length, but this was so good I had trouble cutting anything):

The secrets of Valerie Plame’s cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable….

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because “promises of protection” will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear–politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political “success” in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere “paper-pusher,” or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the “degree” of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the “I’m ok, you’re ok” politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don’t care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That’s the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.

I know I’ve probably over-excerpted here, but Marcinowski does a great job of cutting through all the Republican and media bullshit to remind us of the true magnitude of the crime, and the moral bankruptcy and recklessness of the coverup.

Your serve, Dr. Dean.

July 23rd, 2005 at 02:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Wankers


Well. Just got back (well, when I started writing this, anyway…) from Howard Dean’s appearance at the Church Brew Works here in Pittsburgh, and it was a most excellent time, I must say. The food was good, the company was excellent – I sat at a table with both a fellow Liberal Drinker and a fellow Atriot (spork_incident, who I found to be a charming and erudite companion – I think Hoyt stopped by our table briefly as well, but he didn’t recognize us, and I wasn’t sure enough to say anything) – and El Medico Dean was fired up and brought lots of red meat, and he hit almost every possible target.

Money line of the night was early: “The Republicans have brought a culture of corruption to Washington,” and he hammered at an overarching theme that the Democrats are the party with real morals and convictions. Some other noteworthy highlights, not necessarily in any kind of order, including chronological:

  • He challenged Bush to fire Rove, and show that he values the cover and safety of an undercover agent working for our security more than he values protecting a loyal crony and political operative.
  • He took a swipe at Santorum, referring to him as one of Virginia’s senators, and also pointed out DeLay’s ethics deficiencies as further examples of Republican “moral values”.
  • He made the point (in defense of Bob Casey, Jr.) that he would much rather have a pro-life Democrat in his corner than a pro-life Republican – because pro-life Democrats at least care about children after they’re born. And, of course, he mentioned that there were fewer abortions under Clinton than Bush.
  • He emphasized that Democrats must campaign and try to compete everywhere, not just in blue states and swing states. We can’t just write off Mississippi, or we’ll guarantee that we’ll never win there.
  • He spoke of the need to count every vote – he expressed admiration for the Oregon law that prohibits use of any voting system that cannot be recounted by hand, and asked How Dare Republicans make a show of trying to attract blacks and Latinos while at the same time trying to repress their votes.
  • He pointed out Bush’s cocoon and imperial arrogance in a very interesting way, saying that when he was governor of Vermont, he considered the people his boss, that even the ones who didn’t vote for him still paid his salary. But President Bush, by contrast, will not even allow any of the 48% of the country who voted against him to participate in any of the town hall meetings he’s been holding all across the country, and Dean drew a line from that to the incredible political incivility that has taken over this country.
  • He also shared an anecdote about when he asked a young evangelical Christian woman why she supported him – she said she disagreed with most of what he stood for, but the Texas Republicans had screwed over her family’s healthcare, and she (and other evangelicals) placed a great value on convictions, especially in positions of high office, and she felt Dean had them, and Republicans didn’t (he also disparaged the notion that Democrats should be centrist “Republican Lite”).

I thought the convictions anecdote was telling, and seemed like it might be the start of a strategy to pre-emptively inoculate for whoever runs in 2008, so they don’t get the same politically-expedient-waffler tag that Gore and Kerry got stuck with. Someone else (spork_incident, I believe) also observed that this appeared to be a concerted effort to encroach on the Republicans’ own turf, by appealing to morality and convictions, and trying to make common cause with pro-lifers. Hopefully it will be enough to peel off some non-insane evangelicals, although I won’t bet money on it.

Basically, if this is the message and strategy Dean wants the Democratic party to adopt, then I feel pretty good about it. The only major theme I’m sorry he didn’t cover was The War On Terror – the Republicans have done a shite job at it before and after 9/11, and they need to be called on it, repeatedly. I would have liked to hear more about the Downing Street Memos and how Bush lied us into war, but Plamegate at least touches on that indirectly. I also would have liked to see him follow Hillary’s lead and address the lapdogginess of the media, but that’s maybe just my obsession, and might not have been appropriate or necessary for a fire-up-the-faithful address like this one.

And I realize this is a bit strange, but spork_incident backs me up (or at least humors me) on this: When Howard smiles, he looks a bit like the middle-aged, Monsieur Verdoux/Limelight-vintage Charlie Chaplin.

5 comments July 19th, 2005 at 09:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Coolness,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Favorites,Libby/Plame,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Republicans,Rove,Terrorism

Thrown For A Lupica

Whoa. Didn’t see this coming. NY Daily News sportswriter Mike Lupica, of all people:

I guess it’s asking too much for Karl Rove to come out of the White House someday with a raincoat over his head, but that’s just my upbeat, optimistic way of looking at things.

Rove’s strategy on almost all things is just a variation of a line from “The Untouchables”:

They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.

In the case of Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie, it wasn’t quite as dramatic, but went something like this:

The White House philosophy, apparently, is that if you don’t like what somebody like Wilson is saying – in this case, about the White House’s nuke-scare pretext for going to war in Iraq – start telling reporters the guy’s wife is a CIA agent.

That’s how Rove operates and has always operated and why Paul Krugman accurately portrayed him as a “thug” the other day in the Times.

If it’s made it to the sports pages, it must be in the zeitgeist, right?

1 comment July 17th, 2005 at 11:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Rove,Sports

Spins Of Omission

In contemplating the ongoing Rove/Plamegate shitstorm, I found myself wondering why the Republicans haven’t resorted to spin along the lines of, “Hey, Rove just passed that as background information to a trusted reporter to warn him not to get too gung-ho about the yellowcake story, but he certainly had no intention for Cooper to publish her identity, and indeed he didn’t. No harm, no foul. Now, the person who leaked to Novak, they wanted her name to get out there – that’s the real bad guy, that’s the one who really needs to be fired and imprisoned.”

Of course, the best reason for not using this spin is that Rove is also the one who leaked to Novak (and others, who chose not to use it) with clear malicious intent.

July 14th, 2005 at 05:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Republicans,Rove

Dana Milbank (Snarkily) Nails It

From the end of his online WaPo chat about Plamegate:

This is Karl Rove’s town, and the rest of us — President Bush included — are just living in it.

I fear this may be too, too true. But we’ll find out soon enough.

And now, symbolically enough, I’m off to make yet another attempt to see Sin City in a theater…

2 comments July 12th, 2005 at 04:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Politics,Rove

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