Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What If This Happened Under Clinton?

It's funny to watch Republicans resort to Clintonian parsing of words in their fervent defense of Karl Rove.

The President said he would only fire someone if they committed a CRIME, they will tell you, and a crime is only committed if someone KNOWINGLY NAMED an UNDERCOVER operative and not only did Rove not know Plame was undercover if she even was -- they'll claim that she was not -- but Rove never NAMED Plame, merely identified her as Wilson's wife.

Umm, OK. So it's cool then.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) exemplified this pathetic apologist rhetoric on yesterday's Scarborough Country:

KING: It's only wrong if he knew that she was undercover and that the CIA was making every attempt to keep her undercover. He didn't give her name. He didn't know she was undercover.
SCARBOROUGH: But he said it's Joe Wilson's wife. I mean, that's the same thing, isn't it?
KING: Joe Wilson listed his wife's name in his own bio. It was on—it was in his Web site. He listed his wife's name. So, it was no secret that she was his wife. And to me...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, yes, but Joe Wilson didn't say, she's an undercover CIA agent, Peter.
KING: And neither did Karl Rove say she was undercover CIA agent. He said she worked for the CIA. She was working at the CIA headquarters. It was no secret she was working there, and he brought this out. And, to me, if you have someone who is over there, and we are—and we're in time of war and he is actually falsifying what he heard in Niger.

What's been impressive, quite frankly, is the extent to which members of the press are actually acknowledging how differently Republicans would be acting if the shoe were on the other foot -- if this was Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff instead.

Tim Russert on The Today Show said
One Republican said to me last night. If this was a Democratic White House, we'd have Congressional hearings in a second.
Even conservatives are granting the point. Joe Scarborough, conservative host of Scarborough Country, said
A White House official should not reveal the identity of a CIA agent. And if that White House official had done it, or let's say they had done it in the Clinton administration, you and I would be calling for the resignation of that official, would we not?
And conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan shares this e-mail from a reader that nails it:

Two points, briefly:1. People need to stop hiding behind Clintonian semantics here and understand that even if no actual technical violation of the law is found in the Rove/Plame case it will still be true, based on what we know now from the Time emails, that White House actions compromised a CIA asset during a time of war. What would Hannity, Limbaugh, Scarborough and all the cable loudmouths be saying if it had been Sidney Blumenthal?

2. Scott McClellan once told the American people that Karl Rove was not involved in any way, and that the President would remove anyone found to be involved. During the Lewinsky scandal many people insisted that it was not the sex that bothered them, but it was the lying, spinning, parsing, and direct misleading of the American people that offended them, and that came to define the Clinton White House. What would the cable loudmouths be saying if instead of McClellan it had been McCurry?


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