Like most people who read blogs, I've been transfixed these last few day and weeks by two stories: the Valerie Plame leak investigation and the nomination-process of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
On the first story, I've been watching the previously unknown-to-me firedoglake, run by a couple of former prosecutors and lawyers. It is these days the center of Plameology for the left, as Tom Macguire is for the rational right.
For the latter story, I've been following the span unravel at Volokh.com (right-leaning, libertarian lawyers) and at Redstate.org (the "base" in its glory). Leftists, upon witnessing the Republicans eat their own so publicly, have managed to keep their mouthes shut on an unprecedented scale.
Uninteresting, silly bloviatings below the fold.
On the former, I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that Fitzgerald has come up with a good deal of evidence for the indictments that he will surely be handing down soon. I'm not among those who would wave away with a dismissive hand charges of conspiracy or perjury, but for the sake of this screwed-up body politic we've got going on, and in the interest of finally trying to get this recent history right, I would really like the next, inevitable swing of the pendulum to be solidly grounded in fact.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'll like to throw eggs at most of this administration, I harbor fantasies about seeing them in international tribunals, and I think that they've done irreparable harm to most of our remaining public institutions. They should be excoriated, ridden out of town on a rail, and serve as historic exemplars of an executive gone crazy.
But all of that has got to wait.
I've been thinking all of this since, oh, say, 2002, the year that Max Cleland got voted out of office for being insufficiently knee-jerk patriotic, the year that Republicans managed to incite sufficient hatred against the French that citizens were pouring good champagne into the sewers, the year that many liberals decided that if we couldn't beat them in their unilateralist fantasies, it was better to join them in the hopes of creating (by military force) a better world. And that's a selective memory working.
I was convinced by 2002 that the American people would understand and reject the Bush administration in 2004. I was wrong, obviously. All that reading foreign press, international policy journals, and then, later, blogs, clearly alienated my thinking from the portion of the electorate who thought that an executive's undemonstrated ability to represent morality more important than his demonstrated desire to wage unlimited war.
The Plame story is far more complicated, and those in the direct line of indictment, while significant in D.C., while important to political junkies, are names that might spark a distant neurotransmitter in the brain of the average citizen. No NPR program has really managed to explain what the hell is going on, and if they can't manage to do so in a twenty-minute segment, what on earth are the CNNs, Foxes, and local affiliates going to be able to do? They're allotted, what, 30 seconds for ground-laying and then, if lucky, five minutes for partisan bloviating? If the indictments are to have any political meaning, after all these bruising years of hardball politics, Fitzgerald has to come up with evidence that the average, turned-off, media-weary voter can understand.
I don't doubt that if indictments are handed down, the Washington long knives will finally be flashed, journalists will "suddenly" discover negative stories, and maybe some genuine assholes might face real time. These are all good things. But the voters are really, really cynical by now, I think. Clinton's impeachment remains rather puzzling for many people, even those who thought, as I did at the time, that a President should not lie to the American people--and really, really shouldn't have sexual relationships of any sort with young, naive, subordinates. Yet given all of those wrongs, which, as I spent many hours arguing with my European friends, really were wrongs, it seemed insane that a sitting President should have finally been trapped into this position. A lot of well-meaning and decently educated American voters--those who are not addicted to blogs--will wonder if the Plame scandal is simply a symmetrical version of the Lewinski scandal: a technical foul that is being blown up into Watergate for partisan ends. And I suspect that many of them are wondering by now whether the blue dress was really worth it.
There are so many reasoned analyses of why the outing of a CIA NOC operative is nefarious that I won't even interrupt my thinking to link to them. There are even some analyses that suggest that if agents or contacts hadn't been exposed to mortal danger, then the CIA would never have referred the case to begin with. That's the basic emotional hook for the TV audience, but even on NPR, that grounding of the story has always seemed abstract. If, when this story breaks sometime next week (I hope, for my sanity), more definite evidence about who Valerie Plame Wilson was and what she was doing is lacking, then I predict it'll be hard to move the sluggish TV citizen to get excited about indictments among the mid-level staff. Libby and Rove are big deals for political nerds, but not to TV Citizen.
I really, really hope that Fitzgerald has some hottt evidence.
On the latter, the Harriet Miers nomination, I can only snort, pshaw, and hope for anti-abortion fundamentalists to lead the charge against this grammatically challenged crony. At this point in the process, the only positives remaining for Miers are:
--she's niceAll I can say is, thank heavens Harriet Miers isn't applying for tenur She can't write, has little qualifications, and her professional colleagues think she's mediocre? If her candidacy should go down in flames, I think that she and David Horowitz could make great music together. As long as, you know, she was cool with Jews.
--she's Evangelical (I really hope this is a meaningless statement because otherwise the whole country is in for a wild fricking ride)
--some close friends say she's pro-life, while others say she has a strict Constructionalist philosophy
--she's diligent (despite letting that bar license expire--twice)
--she's details-oriented (the grammar in her quoted opinions and briefs is literally killing me)
--she understands judicial restraint (as tightly as she is to the most imperial presidency--perhaps--ever, this is not exactly a reassuring line of defense)
--her critics are elitist and sexist for demanding that a woman have measurable qualifications for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country.