Whether the media care enough to do their jobs and investigate all angles and see this through, whether congressional Democrats care enough to hold the Bushies' feet to the fire on anything and everything, and whether the American public gives enough of a shit to do something about all of it at the next election -- well, that's another subject.
And throughout it all, there are paramount questions: what purpose did Rove's disclosure serve for the administration's agenda; i.e., why did he do it, as he clearly did? And what did Bush and Cheney know, and how long have they known it? This also is crucial -- have they been sitting on this knowledge for two years running, and dodging the issue with weasel words? Forget partisan politics for a second -- do their supporters find this sort of behavior acceptable, if indeed they've known about this the whole time?
It's coming down to a very unpleasant dilemma for Bush supporters to confront -- either Bush knew and has helped cover the knowledge up the whole, or he's so utterly incompetent, he really has had no idea what his helper monkeys are doing after hours.
Several years ago, back around the Harken mini-scandal I believe, I once said that Bush was either a crook or a schnook. That assessment holds truer than I ever thought it would. It's basically one or the other -- or both. After all, stupidity is how criminals usually get caught.
Frank Rich has more on how this could eventually envelop the entire administration.
He's right. It's been something to watch this story take on a life of its own at long last, to gain the momentum it takes to roll past the 24/7 news cycle of crap and fluff. Considering its proliferation of helpful graphics and crawls and breaking news briefs, network news has devolved into a surprisingly inert product, barely registering above reality TV on the intellect meter a great deal of the time. So for a story like this, with its twists and turns and sequence of revelations, in the face of deliberate obfuscation by its principal players, it's a start.
Considering the monumental ramifications at the heart of it, it really shouldn't have taken so long to break, but again, with such an inert and complaisant media presence, I suppose we should all be grateful they're even bothering to cover it now, knowing what we all know.
Now, if there was a blowjob involved -- aside from the ones in Karl Rove's future in prison -- they'd have uncovered every miserable detail long ago.
So Bush, per usual, was stupider like a fox in nominating a complete unknown. Fortunately, the daily media and the Democrats have not let it distract them from the T-bone at hand, though the Sunday morning wankfests were still on it.* Which is fine; if Roberts is a stealth Scalia rather than merely a center-right O'Connor replacement, that information too needs to be brought out. After all, we're going to be stuck with this guy for the next thirty years or so; we need to be diligent about finding out what he thinks about certain issues, and seeing how it jibes with the direction we want our country to head in.
I mean, we are an engaged, dynamic citizenry with a font of information at fingertips, and a passion -- nay, an unquenchable thirst -- for knowledge, are we not?
There really are almost too many threads to reliably follow in all this, which does help explain some of why it's taken so long for it all to gain traction. There simply aren't enough Americans who are politically rigorous enough to care about it enough to follow along, and this administration certainly won't do anything to help -- indeed, as with everything else, they've done all they can to thwart simply bringing information to the light of day. That's what they do, after all, when they're not busy concocting cockamamie schemes to grift rubes out of their pensions.
But the nut of this story is this -- that this White House has engaged in a systematic pattern of mendacity and obfuscation in order to either deflect attention from -- or outright embarrass or intimidate -- people who have been presumptuous enough to go public with their fact-based misgivings.
Worse yet, all this corruption has been in the service of things they've been completely wrong about. They fucked up, they know it, we know it. They lamely try to insist that long-term results will vindicate them, but even on that count, they appear dead wrong, for at least the next generation -- and by then we'll have our hands full with a whole 'nother set of problems.
The American media, if it cares even an iota for what shred of credibility they retain, needs to communicate these facts to the American public. They started a war on very shaky intelligence, and the evidence grows practically by the day that they knew said intel was shaky, but saw what they wanted to see. They can whinge all they want about how other major Western intel agencies had concerns too, as did Bill Clinton, but neither Clinton nor any of those allies were itching to start a war.
That's the thing -- they wanted this war; they wanted to invade, clearly. And they were wrong about the nature of the enemy; they were wrong about the presumed eagerness of Iraqis to be "liberated"; they were wrong about the organizational structure of the Iraqi society. And they've played dirty against the people who were right, and had the nerve to say so.
*A notable exception to the wankfests was Face The Nation. As noted here, Abu Gonzales did some dancin'.
Biden, craven hack that he is, is exactly right. There's no reason for a 12-hour gap with the technology even the average Joe Shmoe has, much less the freakin' White House. Did they take shredding-party tips from Arthur Andersen and Kenny Boy Lay? As with those scandals, we'll probably never know the full extent of it.
Occasionally I'll catch CBS' Sunday Morning; its assemblage of mindless human-interest pablum fits well into the relaxing Sunday morning tableau of newspaper-reading over breakfast. Strangely, late in the show they will jump from some "Bill Geist profiles a hubcap-collector in East Overshoe, Kansas" nonsense to a studio opinion piece from either Ben Stein or Nancy Giles. Stein, naturally, is much more directly partisan than Giles, and more of a righty than Giles could be considered a lefty. Anyway, today was Stein's turn.
Stein, being a Nixon White House veteran, and thus well-acquainted with the black arts of official mendacity, proffered his advice to Bush to stick with Karl Rove, that this whole story was essentially a contrivance pushed into the spotlight and kept there by the likes of Chuck Schumer.
Of course, Stein had no explanation for why, if there's no there there, it's taken two years for all of these putatively innocuous discrepancies to be brought to light. He also has no explanation as to why other CIA agents, such as registered Republican Larry Johnson, seem to think that the outing of Plame's name was a genuine breach of trust, as well as national security. Johnson thought enough of this episode to deliver the Democratic Party's radio address yesterday; usually this function is reserved for a ranking party member to rebut some bit of nonsense gabbled by Bush in his Saturday morning radio address (which, truth be told, interferes with W's preferred watching hours for Dora the Explorer. Thank Unca Dick for TiVo!).
Stein certainly has a right to voice his opinion, as corrupt and unprincipled as it is, but it is somewhat irresponsible of CBS to just air this bullshit without any sort of counterpoint response. There were holes in Stein's argument one could drive a truck through, but without air time for said truck driver, they're just huge holes, aren't they?
(Full disclosure: in 2000 I was a contestant on Win Ben Stein's Money, so I have met and talked with Stein, and actually think very highly of him as a person. He came across as a genuinely decent and gracious person, and took time to talk at length with all the contestants. All that said, I still think of him as a nice guy, but his politics suck, as do his rhetorical methods for defending some of the most corrupt personages to disgrace the once-hallowed halls of American government. Stein is of a piece with Coulter and Limbaugh and the rest of them -- shameless, tendentious hackery, unequivocal in its partisan short-sightedness and hypocrisy. If it were Clinton or Gore, they'd all pile on like Rove at the fried chicken basin at Hometown Buffet.)