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Thursday, October 20, 2005

James Wolcott Says 

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Cries and Whimpers
Posted by James Wolcott

I couldn't agree more with Pat Lang's post at Sic Temper Tyrannis:

"In listening to the 'Beltway/K St.' crowd discuss the ever widening Abuse of Power scandal surrounding the Bush Administration I am struck by the profound immorality of many of the statements being made by people who have served for decades at the right hand of presidents and members of Congress.

"'That's just how the Game is Played,' or 'Let's not Criminalize Politics' would be samples of the kind of rhetoric floating around these days in the world of the 'talking heads.' What is meant by that?

"The idea implicit in statements of this kind by people like David Gergen and Pat Buchanan [guests last night on Chris Matthews' Hardball] is that there is nothing wrong with using the power of the executive branch of government to manipulate the press to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of political opponents. The belief seems to be that pressurizing or seducing media executives to accept false and misleading statements about critics of the policies of the government of the day is just a form of 'contact sport' and that, in fact, all is truly fair in love, war, and now politics. It seems that the 'wise men' also believe that it is just part of the game to 'recruit' reporters for the national print media and then use them as instruments of propaganda to deceive the public and contribute to the destruction of the 'loyal opposition.'

"If it is true that the politics of personal destruction are so widely accepted by the political establishment in the city named for one of the most honest men who ever lived, then perhaps we should change the name of the place. Maybe 'Nixon City' would be more realistic..."

It isn't just Pitchfork Pat and the Gargler who are coughing up furball apologetics for institutional thuggery, it's also such nominal liberals as Tom Oliphant, Richard Cohen, and Jacob Weisberg, dubbed Eschaton's Wanker of the Day. Some of the same so-called liberals who worked themselves into a capuccino froth about Clinton's Monica lie shrug off the outing of Valerie Plame and the larger campaign to mislead the country into war in Iraq as no biggie even American troops and Iraqis continue to die and F16s continue to pound targets in the very country we occupy.

I don't know what indictments, if any, are coming down the pike. But I promise you this: If there are high-reaching indictments from Fitzgerald's grand jury that threaten to rip out several vital organs of the Bush regime, the same milksop Machiavellis who extol "hardball" as the Beltway's favorite sport will suddenly start worming their fingers together in major fits of nervous handwringing and warning us these trials risk "tearing the country apart" and becoming a "terrible distraction" to more "urgent problems facing the nation."

I remember this happening during the early stages of Watergate, when many of the poohbahs of journalism and punditry tried to bottle up the surge force of the investigations, feeling that the country had been through so much pain and woe in the late Sixties (the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the riots at the Chicago convention, etc) that another national trauma would be too much to bear. This was before the full dimensions of the rot and gangsterism were known, and even the Voices of Caution (such as Hugh Sidey) were forced to concede that Nixon had to go. I fully expect a replay if there are major indictments, with David Broder assuming the role of Sidey, Richard Cohen performing his yeoman best to much everything up, etc., and the all the former hardballers going soft, saying that whatever was done to strike back at Joe Wilson is dwarfed by the more important challenges facing us in Iraq, the War on Terror, the Katrina rebuilding, and so on.

If it looks as if Cheney has to resign and Bush himself enters the Nixon danger zone, we'll hear the same frets and cries from the pundit shows about the country being torn apart and Americans losing faith in their government. But it isn't the country that will be torn apart by Plamegate any more than the country was torn apart during Watergate (which provided daily thrilling news entertainment value that bound citizens together); it's the Washington establishment that will be torn apart. And it should be torn apart. It's failed the country, and it's played by its own rules for too long, and "criminalizing politics" is exactly what should be done when political criminals deceive a nation into a war with Judith Miller serving as the Angie Dickinson to their Rat Pack and Richard Cohen auditioning for the part of Joey Bishop.

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