BUSH ABOVE SCOTTIE! I want to know the truth, Bush said. Libs should hit hard on that statement: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2005
SPEAKING OF PATSIES: Good grief! We marveled at Garance Franke-Rutas analysis when we saw it posted yesterday. But this morning, we see that Kevin Drum has called it the best take on why the press corps finally woke up about Rove and Plame. Here it is, the best take on the press corps day of revolt:
FRANKE-RUTA (7/11/05): If there is one thing that reporters hate, it's being played for patsies. McClellan has publicly humiliated some of the most prominent reporters in the country by persistently feeding them information that has now been revealed to be false, and I'm pretty darn sure that they are not going to grant him any favors and extend him the benefit of the doubt in the future.If there is one thing reporters hate, it's being played for patsies? This analysis comes straight from Neptune. But Kevin truly is Pangloss when it comes to the conduct of the press corps. We wont make any predictions ourselves, but those who are pretty darn sure that the press will play tough are living in a deep dream state.
One more note on Drums take on the press. A few weeks ago, John Harris gave an interview to CJR Daily in connection with his new book on Clinton. (We expect to discuss the book all next week.) Atrios pulled an unflattering quote from the interview, then semi-challenged Harris on it. By contrast, Drum found the one quote from the interview which painted the corps in a positive light. (Completely improbably, Harris claimed that the mainstream press just hated covering the Lewinsky matter.) Harris claim seemed absurd on its face—but that was the one quote Drum posted. We marvel at the way this superlative analyst sees no evil when it comes to the press corps.
In our usual excess of fairness, we passed on this matter in real time. Today, with Drum pimping Franke-Rutas dream, we decided to go back and cadge it.
IN A NUTSHELL: Its buried deep in Richard Stevensons piece about Rove. But the politics of the past fifteen years is largely explained by this passage:
STEVENSON (7/12/05): Democrats, as the minority party in both the House and the Senate, have no ability to push forward with a formal Congressional investigation. But Mr. Rove is such a high-profile political target that his role is sure to draw intense scrutiny from both Democrats in Congress and liberal interest groups.At least Stevenson didnt say that hes pretty darn sure that the press corps will show eternal vigilance. But much of the politics of the Clinton/Bush eras is explained by that highlighted passage. Its a fundamental problem of our democracy—only the congressional majority can conduct a formal probe. From 1995 on, President Clinton was hounded by clowning probes, in which the never-vigilant press corps were more than happy to behave like patsies. But on the Rove matter, the Dems cant run a probe. This is a major structural flaw in the working of our democracy. In this very major forum, only one side gets to be heard! Its a very unwise system—and it helps explain why things were so much harder for President Clinton than they have been for President Bush.
THAT VIRUS SPREADS: Did King Karl say that Plame was fair game after her cover was blown by Bob Novak? The facts on that havent been established, but Josh Marshall praises a readers good point on the subject. Here was the readers presentation:
TPM READER: If [Rove] referred to her as being fair game after her cover was blown, does that not imply that he wasnt stunned (to say the least) by her status, and there is a good chance that he did know about her status beforehand?Good point, Josh says, after posting this e-mail. But actually, no—it isnt a good point, except in the viral world the liberal web now seems to be borrowing from the kooky-con right (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/11/05). Again, we dont know if Rove told Chris Matthews that Plame was fair game. But even if he did say this (or something like it), this tells us absolutely nothing about his state of knowledge before Novaks column appeared—and its absurd to pretend that it does. There are many good points to be made about Rove. This, alas, isnt one of them.
Many thoughts occur to many people, and they zip off e-mails accordingly. But this e-mail doesnt make really a good point—unless weve adopted the world of the kooky-con right, a world in which every bit of evidence will be tortured until it proves the guilt of an adversary. The talk-show right got away with this clowning for the past fifteen years because the press corps kept rolling over for them. But the press corps isnt going to roll over for liberals and Dems, so liberals and Dems have to reason more clearly. Josh is pandering to his readers here. Cant you just hear him? Hey, rubes!
MORE VIRAL MOMENTS: Liberals and Dems simply cant afford to play the dim games of the kooky-con right. But all across the liberal web, we find the virus spreading—a virus in which every bit of reasoning, no matter how daft, is accepted as seminal brilliance as long as it proves King Karls guilt. Yesterday, we were amazed when the sagacious Digby praised this post from John Aravosis:
ARAVOSIS (7/11/05): Perhaps it's legally relevant if Rove "knew" Plame was undercover or not, but it's not relevant in terms of him keeping his job. Rove intentionally outed a CIA agent working on WMD, it is irrelevant whether he did or didn't know if she was an undercover agent. First off, he knew she wasn't THAT public about her identity or there'd have been no need to "out" here—everyone would have known her already.Aravosis makes some excellent points in his longer post. But that paragraph, which Digby featured, makes almost no sense at all. The last sentence is completely absurd. The second sentence isnt much better.
That featured paragraph makes no sense—except in a viral world, a world in which every bit of logic, no matter how daft, automatically proves the guilt of the adversary. Pseudo-cons have played this game for years. Libs and Dems need to be smarter.
BUSH ABOVE SCOTTIE: For our money, Bushs past statements are much more relevant to the present situation than the past statements of Scott McClellan. (Bush is a more important figure.) For that reason, we think its worth looking at his full remarks on the Plame matter from September 30, 2003. At this point, there was no special prosecutor:
QUESTION (9/30/03): Do you think that the Justice Department can conduct an impartial investigation, considering the political ramifications of the CIA leak, and why wouldn't a special counsel be better?Yes, the Bush Admin will torture the language, saying (perhaps correctly) that Rove didnt leak classified information. But over and over, Bush said he wanted people with information to come forward. I want to know the truth, he said. And: We can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would. But two years went by, and Rove didnt come forward—or if he did, Bush kept his trap shut. Rove flirted with jail time for Matt Cooper; he may have put Judith Miller in jail. (The Admin will say that Rove signed that blanket waiver.) But the question here seems obvious—and its the question libs should be asking. When Bush said he wanted the truth, why didnt he get the truth from his number-one top adviser? Or did he actually get the truth? Did he actually get the truth, then keep the truth to himself?
McClellans statements are much less important than Bushs. Two years ago, the sitting president said, I want to know the truth. Obvious question for a Bold Leader: Why are we just starting to get the truth two years after this public statement? And: What do you plan to do to the person who kept you in the dark?
UNFORTUNATELY, ORIN WAS SEMI-RIGHT: Unfortunately, for all Roves misconduct (which may not be criminal), this isnt a perfect case for liberals. Unfortunately, almost everything Deborah Orin said on last nights Hardball is true, or at least semi-true. If Dems and libs want to deal with reality, they need to understand these facts. Well discuss them in more detail tomorrow. But heres what Orin said:
ORIN (7/11/05): Democrats are always dreaming that they have got a new Watergate. This is not a new Watergate.Orin is stretching a bit on various points. But unfortunately, much of what she said last night is true or semi-true (including that final comment about the press, by the way). On the newly-viral liberal web, its heresy to discuss this, of course. But Joseph Wilson has been a severely flawed messenger. If libs and Dems want to be smart, not viral, theyll want to understand that fact. More on the topic tomorrow.
TOMORROW: Wilsons warts. And oh yeah—why did you hear so little about those blanket waivers?