Monday, July 18, 2005

Advancing In Reverse

Anybody who was ever a fan of the old Benny Hill Show remembers the madcap time-lapse videos with which he'd close his show wherein his character would do something stupid that would end up causing an entire crowd of people to chase him all over the place.

That's what this "Plamegate" re-run reminds me of now. Even though it didn't work two years ago, and isn't working now, the Left, via its Extreme Media arm, is still crazily trying to chase after Karl Rove, or Lewis Libby, or somebody, ANYbody as long as they're a member of the Bush Administration.

And just as with dear old Benny, it's comical beyond belief.

TV talker Chris Matthews, who was one of several NBC News personalities hyping the Valerie Plame-Joseph Wilson scandal, sounded dumbfounded on Sunday, now that the imbroglio seems unlikely to sink White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove's career.

"Will Karl Rove be forced to leave the White House?" Matthews asked, before protesting: "This is unbelievable. Ten of our [12] experts at this panel think this guy is gonna make it through."

Which, translated, means ten out of twelve NBC "experts" don't have their heads helplessly impacted in their rectal cavities. A category in which I guess Matthews would also reside, though just barely, which is to say his head is up his rectal cavity but he comes up for air occasionally.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman, by contrast....

Matthews Show panelist, Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman, did his best to assure the audience that the scandal ginned up last week by his magazine hadn't laid an egg, insisting, "That vote probably proves [Rove is] going to be out soon."
Only two out of twelve "experts" (whose primary qualification for that overinflated title is that they regularly burn George Bush in effigy at weekly Sorosian lodge meetings) disappear into the Mooreonic mists of mental dysfunction and that constitutes "proof" of Karl the Great's imminent political demise? I guess Fineman is just an incurable optimist.

But not as big a one as Mrs. Alan Greenspan:

When the Plamegate media hype was still intensifying on Tuesday, NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell responded to completely unfounded speculation that President Bush was involved in the scandal, musing to radio host Don Imus, "How do you spell impeachment?"
No word on the height of those hopes at the present time.

Meanwhile, the level of opposition dignity is no higher on Capitol Hill:

Asked about a letter she sent the White House demanding that Rove's security clearance be suspended, Representative Jane Harman first insisted she was "certain" that the top Bush aide's source was someone in the Administration.

"There's no other way that he would know [Plame's name]," Harman argued to Fox News Sunday's Brit Hume.

The California Democrat theorized that there was a "gossip pool in the White House emailing each other and chatting it up." She then charged that Rove was "marketing the facts" to reporters Matthew Cooper and Robert Novak.

Hume noted, however, that according to published reports on Friday, Rove "heard about the information from reporters" - and not Bush Administration colleagues.

He challenged Harman: "How do you know that's not true?"

The House Intelligence Committee Democrat began furiously backpedaling:

"Well, I can't know absolutely that it's not true," Harman confessed, before protesting, "But it's a circle - the reporters got it from somewhere."

Gotta love those sputtering double-negatives. Also the always pugnacious Mark Levin, who argues on NRO today that it was "the former Valerie Plame" who, at the very least, had a hand in, er, "exposing" herself:

That's right. Plame started this phony scandal. And so far, she’s gotten away with it. What do I mean? Plame has shown herself to be an extremely capable bureaucratic insider. In fact, we know she's accomplished — she accomplished getting her husband, Joe Wilson, an assignment he desperately wanted: a trip to Niger to investigate a "crazy" report that Saddam Hussein sought yellowcake uranium from Niger (her word, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, not mine). And she was dogged. She asked not once but twice (the second time in a memo) that her husband get the job. And there's more. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation also found that a CIA "analyst's notes indicate that a meeting was 'apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger issues."

Now, Wilson didn't have an intelligence background. Indeed, the committee revealed that Wilson didn't have a "formal" security clearance, but the CIA gave him an "operational clearance." The fact is that there was little to recommend Wilson for the role, other than his wife’s persistence.

Indeed, the committee reported further that some at the CIA "believed that the embassy in Niger had good contacts and would be able to get to the truth of the uranium issue, suggesting a visit from the former ambassador would be redundant...."

This is the real scandal. Plame lobbied repeatedly for her husband, and she knew full well that he was hostile to the war in Iraq and the Administration's foreign policy. She had to know his politics — and there can no longer be any pretense about him being a nonpartisan diplomat who was merely doing his job. By experience and temperament, Wilson was the wrong man to send to Niger. Plame affirmatively stepped into what she knew might become a very public political controversy, given her husband's predilections (and her own) about that "crazy" report of yellowcake uranium.

That's a very sound piece of reasoning. Certainly Yellowcake Joe himself doesn't strike anybody as being the sharpest knife in the drawer, and his profligate prevaricating has carbonized whatever credibility undamaged integrity might have afforded him. He goes out there like the crazy redneck who claims to have been given a ride in a UFO, and the Extreme Media fetes him like the publishers of the Weekly Midnight Star, so eager for his story that they're willing to shelve their "Bigfoot caught in wild menage a toi with Ghidorah and corpulent Mary Kate Olsen" series. Meanwhile, Mrs. Wilson sits back and wallows in her "victim" status, clear of and safe from the field of a battle that she herself unleashed.

Not that the press' dwindling readership is interested, but that doesn't matter to the journos, because the press herd is, at this point, writing for its own self-amusement. This helps explain why nobody outside the Beltway either cares about or can make head or tail of what they're saying.

That's what Andy McCarthy illustrates devastatingly today in a companion NRO piece, all the while also pointing out how that seeming insanity is as cynically calculating as it can be:

Have you heard that the CIA is actually the source responsible for exposing Plame's covert status? Not Karl Rove, not Bob Novak, not the sinister Administration cabal du jour of Fourth Estate fantasy, but the CIA itself? Had you heard that Plame's cover has actually been blown for a decade — i.e., since about seven years before Novak ever wrote a syllable about her? Had you heard not only that no crime was committed in the communication of information between Bush Administration officials and Novak, but that no crime could have been committed because the governing law gives a person a complete defense if an agent's status has already been compromised by the government?

No, you say, you hadn't heard any of that. You heard that this was the crime of the century. A sort of Robert-Hanssen-meets-Watergate in which Rove is already cooked and we're all just waiting for the other shoe — or shoes — to drop on the den of corruption we know as the Bush administration. That, after all, is the inescapable impression from all the media coverage. So who is saying different?

The organized media, that's who. How come you haven't heard? Because they've decided not to tell you. Because they say one thing — one dark, transparently partisan thing — when they're talking to you in their news coverage, but they say something completely different when they think you're not listening.

You see, if you really want to know what the media think of the Plame case — if you want to discover what a comparative trifle they actually believe it to be — you need to close the paper and turn off the TV. You need, instead, to have a peek at what they write when they're talking to a court. It's a mind-bendingly different tale.
To close this happiness circle with one whose mind is, by this time, a Twizzler, behold poor ol' Mr. Wilson, ducking and dodging like Riverdance itself:

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson repeatedly refused to say yesterday whether his CIA employee wife Valerie Plame had been stationed overseas in the five years prior to having her name revealed in the press in 2003 - a stipulation necessary for the Intelligence Identities Protection Act to have been violated.

Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, Wilson was asked by Chicago Tribune reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg:

"Ambassador, I am just not clear on something. The law actually covers and protects covert agents who served abroad within the last five years. So if these conversations took place in 2003, does that law protect your wife? Did she serve abroad as an agent since 1998?"

Rather than answer Greenburg's query directly, Wilson responded: "Well, I'm not a lawyer, first of all. But the CIA would not have frivolously referred this to the Justice Department if they did not believe a possible crime had been committed."

Not satisfied, Greenburg pressed: "But had she served abroad in the time period from [1998 through 2003]?"

Wilson dodged the question again, saying: "I would just tell you that she was covered according to the CIA, and the CIA made the referral."

At that point host Bob Schieffer stepped in and changed the subject. But a few moments later, Greenburg returned to the topic, offering Wilson one more chance to clear up the mystery:

"Well, could we go back to the ambassador in this? You declined to say whether she served abroad within five years of those conversations, but did anyone know that she was working at the agency or driving to Langley? Did her friends or neighbors? Did anyone know that your wife worked for the CIA."

Wilson answered that his wife's friends had no idea about her CIA employment, but refused to offer any information about when she last stationed abroad.

Please understand, this wasn't bulldoggedness on Ms. Greenburg's part. She, it seems to me, was clearly trying to throw Wilson a softball, a big, fat hanging batting practice slider right over the plate that he could smack out of the park. Surely if he could have swung at that pitch, he would have, right? If there was any remotely credible avenue by which this pseudoscandal could be revved back up and sent chomping back toward Karl the Great like that spinning knife ball thingie in Phantasm, certainly Yellowcake Joe would have seized it. And Ms. Greenburg tried to give it to him. Indeed, she seemed frustrated that he wouldn't take the bait.

He didn't take the bait because the fact of that five-year window of cover protection set forth in the Intelligence Identities Protection Act has gotten out and become an established parameter of this kerfuffle. And because Wilson's own book establishes that both he and his wife returned Stateside from abroad in 1997 and have resided in the nation's capital ever since.

Maybe "Ambassador" Wilson is beginning to dimly realize just how promiscuous his dishonesty has become, and how quickly the media jackals will drop him once it becomes incontrovertible even to them that this anti-Rove bomb is a dud and he once again becomes of no use to them.

Two fifteen-minute installments of fame is two more than most people get in their lifetimes. And rarely has a man deserved them less than Joe Wilson. He'd be well advised to milk what he can from them and make his getaway, moll in tow, while he still can.

I can just see Matthews and Fineman and Mitchell chasing madly after the Wilsons exclaiming, "Wait for us!" But that's the next Benny Hill tribute.