Thursday, June 14, 2007

I thought it was the lie, not the underlying act...

The chorus of those who want the Cheney/Rove (Bush) administration to pardon Libby continues to grow inside the Beltway, though not much outside the Beltway.

One of the right-wing mantras making the rounds is that there should be no perjury conviction unless one is also convicted of an underlying crime. Or, to put it another way, if there is no underlying crime, then Libby should not have been prosecuted for lying to the grand jury or prosecutors.*

In the late 1990s, that was decidedly not the right wing mantra regarding Clinton's lie in deposition and grand jury. Here is one example of an editorialist in the Wall St. Journal, 1999, writing not too long after Senate Republicans impeached, but did not convict, Clinton:

"The center of the dysfunction (about Clinton) is not the sex but the lies, which come so effortlessly because at any given moment he believes them."

And back then, Larry Elder, a conservative pro-Republican commentator, was telling us it was Clinton's lie, not his underlying sexual conduct that mattered.

And let's be clear. What Clinton lied about was not itself a crime. Clinton did not have sex with an underaged woman, but a woman 22 years old at the time of the events.

So, let's see, Clinton lied about an adulterous affair with a younger woman, while Libby lied about outing a CIA agent who did covert work per the CIA--in order to politically malign the CIA agent's husband, who had loyally served under the first President Bush. Ask yourself, of the two examples of underlying conduct, which is worse from a national security standpoint? Which is worse overall? Clinton's conduct? Guess again.

Simply stated, there is no principle at work in the fevered minds of some of these right wingers. Just a raw abuse of language and argument for short-term political ends. Libby should be sentenced to prison for his crime of perjury, at least as long as Alger Hiss was in prison.

Bonus point: Let's imagine the Republican reaction if a Democratic Party Vice President's Chief of Staff outed a CIA agent as part of a political smear to justify a misleading aspect in going to war--and then lied to prosecutors about it. Wouldn't the mantra be "Traitor! Traitor!" and wouldn't that Chief of Staff have to fear for his life that some right wing kook or even angry CIA agent would shoot him?

Again, there are clearly some fevered minds out there among the right wing commentators in the US--and their weak, liberal enablers in the Beltway.

*Never mind that evidence did surface during the time of the criminal prosecution of Libby that the CIA considered its agent, Valerie Plame, to be covert, and that further, because she did some of her work overseas during the five years before the outing leak by Libby and others in the Cheney-Rove (Bush) administration, there could well have been a violation of the statute prohibiting "outing" a "covert" (narrowly defined in the statute) CIA agent. Apparently, the prosecutor Fitzgerald believed it would be too difficult to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Libby knew all of that at the time--which is why Fitzgerald settled for a prosecution based only upon perjury.



At June 15, 2007 at 3:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Steven Josselson said...

Conservatives are nothing if not inconsistent. The examples you listed are all good ones, but you forgot the biggest hypocrisy of all. That is, can you imagine if Clinton launched a war of aggression against another country based on lies? He dropped some bombs on Iraq (to combat terror of all things!) and immediately the hue and cry from conservatives was "wag the dog".

Also, I don't remember conservatives supporting Rwanda, Bosnia or Kosovo either. But if a Democrat criticizes the Iraq war, he or she is instantaneously labeled a traitor (or worse).

Can you imagine if 9/11 happened on Clinton's watch? Conservatives would place the blames squarely on Clinton's shoulders, even though the Bushies say similarly blaming Bush for 9/11 is "politicizing the attacks".

It goes on and on. . .

By the way, Mitchell, would you be interested in guest posting on my blog in the next week or so? If you're interested, drop me an email which you can find on my blog.


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