Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Judy, Judy, Judy: The Fascination with Judith Miller

I wasn’t going to do another Judith Miller post. But this is just too easy.

Howard Kurtz ponders the fallout in the Washington Post in The Judy War.

I've been trying to figure out why the Judy Miller saga has become so all-consuming for so many people.

After cycling through some possible explanations which all miss the point he reaches a conclusion.
It's the war, of course. We're re-fighting the war through this case.

To back up his claim, Kurtz cites a bunch of pundits and bloggers talking about just about everything except the war.

Howie, let me help you out.

The whole Valerie Plame outing affair has the potential to take down the Bush administration. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you’ll probably care about that. The Left is reasonably convinced that Cheney and Rove were behind it and Bush probably knew. The Right is running out of denial room and so have moved on to “move along, nothing to see here.”

For the Left, particularly, the whole mess embodies the worst of the Bush Administration - the secrecy, the corruption, the ruthless vengeance, the deceit and the too cozy relationship with certain members of the mainstream media.

The focus on Miller is partly happenstance. Had she struck a deal earlier and testified, it probably would not have blown up like it did. But she didn’t. Instead she decided to play a Martyr for Journalism. And in doing so, she set herself up. The Left hates hypocrisy. That, as a journalist, Miller’s credibility is severely compromised is not news. She did bad reporting on WMDs. She covered up for (and really is still covering for) administration officials essentially guilty of treason. And that she revealed herself that she accepted a government security clearance (and the secrecy it requires) is really superfluous to the case against her claim for the mantle of Journalism.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that news people and bloggers love to discuss The Media ad infinitum. Nor did the Times’ articles do much to shore up the flood of accusations - given their more obfuscatory than revelatory nature. (Question: why would anyone go to jail to protect a source if they don’t even remember who that source is? Something doesn’t add up here.)

To support my explanation, we turn to the very sources Kurtz cites. In particular:

John Aravosis of Americablog exemplifies the passion of the left:

If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot. We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking points ready, issued variations of the following concerning White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:

- It's the criminalization of politics
- Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
- Political payback is common and should not be criminalized

- Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime

Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we are at war in the Middle East on that very issue. The GOP has become the party of treason.

It would be one thing for a senior adviser to the president to put the nation's security at risk during a time of war. That could be explained as an aberration - a quite serious one, no doubt - but a fluke nonetheless. But when the president himself refuses to keep his own word about firing that aberration, and when the entire Republican party rallies around that fluke and tries to minimize what is usually a capital offense during wartime, something is seriously wrong with that party and its leadership.
In the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Bell and Bill Kristol punch back:

Why are conservative Republicans, who control the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time in living memory, so vulnerable to the phenomenon of criminalization? Is it simple payback for the impeachment of Bill Clinton? Or is it a reflection of some deep malady at the heart of American politics? If criminalization is seen to loom ahead for every conservative who begins successfully to act out his or her beliefs in government or politics, is the project of conservative reform sustainable?

We don't pretend to have all the answers, or a solid answer even to one of these questions. But it's a reasonable bet that the fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives. And it is clear that thinking through a response to this challenge is a task conservatives can no longer postpone.

The Weekly Standard quote is really what drew me back to this topic. Aravosis already answered their questions adequately. But it worth highlighting. Bell and Kristol have come dangerously close to so much as admitting that conservatism depends on crime to operate. Pursuing crimes, and the criminals that commit them, is only a threat to “the project of conservative reform” if that project is essentially criminal in nature. Let’s be clear, no “criminalization” would be occurring if no crimes were being committed.

Of course, Bell and Kristol want to say that Evil Liberals are “criminalizing” perfectly innocent conservative political behavior because it’s conservative and not because its actually criminal. And in doing so, they damn themselves as much as the Conservative Movement. The behavior in question is illegally outing a CIA agent to exact revenge against her husband for embarrassing the President with the truth. If Bell and Kristol see nothing wrong in that, no reason to “criminalize” it, then they have spoken volumes about the moral bankruptcy of modern Conservatism.

And maybe that, Mr. Kurtz, is why people are so interested in this matter.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Post a Comment

<< Home

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Blogroll me, please.

50 Places on the web to visit

(You can do what you want

I'm just sayin')

The Progressive Blog Alliance

Register here to join the PBA.

Creative Commons License
Orginal work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Copyrighted source material contained in this site is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.
This site may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in accordance with section 107 of the US Copyright Law Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Technorati Profile