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|09-16-2006, 11:01 PM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 03, 2001
A Scandal Goes Down In Plames
A SCANDAL GOES DOWN IN PLAMES
SCANDALS, like wool sweaters, tend to shrink when mishandled. An item that looked so sharp at first glance can lose its zing when thrown into the wrong spin cycle. And it's only when we pull it out, misshapen and ruined, that we realize last season's trendy purchase is this year's damaged goods.
Take Plamegate, where the beautiful blond wife of an ambitious diplomat was unmasked as a CIA operative. Never mind the fact that Valerie Plame, Mrs. Ambassador Joe Wilson, wasn't exactly the spy who came in from the cold since this Mata Hari had been toiling at a desk job in Langley, Va., for years. And where she worked was the worst-kept secret since Rosie O'Donnell's sexual orientation.
(And it always seemed that our heroine recovered quite well from the outing. She and her husband didn't exactly run from the high-profile photo-ops, not to mention excruciatingly large book deals. "Invasion of privacy" is a relative term.)
So even though it was always quite unlikely that any laws were broken or any real spy hung out to dry, the prospects for political advantage were too high for liberal critics of the president to pass up.
The ones who liked to repeat the glazed-eye mantra of "Bush lied, people died" had a field day portraying George Bush and his neo-con associates as part of a Machiavellian conspiracy to punish Joe Wilson for publicly exposing the "lies" that led to the Iraq invasion.
Of course, Wilson's claims have by now been roundly discredited. The Washington Post went so far in an editorial as to call him a liar, saying he "diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously."
So many liberals, that is.
Pity they forgot to check their facts before launching the crusade. Back when the story first broke, it was commonly believed that Karl Rove was the leak in the ship of state, the man who revealed Plame's identity to Robert Novak, who then blew her alleged cover in a column that tried to explain how a liberal Clintonite like Wilson got the job from the CIA to check out reports that Saddam was looking to buy uranium in Niger.
Since Rove is so universally despised by Bush critics, the rumor that he was the initial leaker fell like manna directly onto the plates of Bush detractors.
Here at last was the opportunity to (yet again) attack Bush as an idiot pawn, vilify his advisers as warmongers willing to victimize a suburban soccer mom, galvanize the feminist vote against the administration (a career girl was being slimed) and reinforce the belief that the war in Iraq was based on deception.
There was definitely joy in Mudville and at the Democratic National Committee.
Problem is, they got it wrong. In the recently published "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War," authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn revealed that Novak's source was actually Richard Armitage, a State Department official who worked closely with Colin Powell.
And worst of all for Bush haters, Armitage was actually a vocal critic of the Iraq war.
Uh-oh, time out. This was not supposed to be in the liberal playbook.
Suddenly, the alleged web of lies and deceit spun by Rove and Cheney and other administration operatives had a lot of holes.
No longer was Plamegate the creation of vindictive Republicans with an axe to grind who wanted to draw blood from a partisan critic like Wilson. The source of the leak was none other than a well-liked war opponent and D.C. insider.
In the interest of fairness and accuracy, you'd expect that news to hit the cover of every mainstream paper and magazine that profited for months from assassinating the character of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.
Maybe Katie Couric would demonstrate what a treasure she really is and read the entire Washington Post editorial on-air.
Maybe Anderson Cooper would do a Katrina redux and decry the hurricane of hyperbole surrounding the case.
Maybe Oprah would reduce Arianna Huffington to tears, and Dr. Phil would analyze the New York Times editorial board.
Maybe someone could apologize to Judy Miller. Or Karl Rove. Or Dick Cheney. Or Scooter Libby. Maybe someone could teach prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a lesson in professional ethics.
For the sensitive folks who were so worried that an innocuous ABC miniseries on 9/11 would defame President Clinton, setting the record straight should be important, right?
Apparently not. Like the shrunken sweater that no longer fits, Plamegate has lost its appeal. That's what happens when the truth gets caught in the wrong spin cycle.
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