Monday, October 31, 2005

Mr. Fitz Goes to Washington

"One day I read that I was a Republican hack, another day I read that I was a Democratic hack," he said. "And the only thing I did between those two nights was sleep."

--Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, October 28, 2005

With a touch of irony, Patrick Fitzgerald proves he realizes exactly what I suspected to be true in my last post: damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Good thing he's got both humor and gravitas enough to deflect spin coming from both sides of the aisle over his work in The Plame Affair.

At times rambling (convoluted baseball analogies, anyone?), at times straightforward and articulate, Fitzgerald left an impression most Americans haven't associated with Washington since Jimmy Stewart's fictional Mr. Smith hit town.

Honesty. Humility. Integrity. Amazing the Beltway itself didn't collapse from the shock of it all!

Had he said "Nothing to see here, folks; move along," I would've believed there wasn't anything to see, even after reading books like Imperial Hubris and Worse than Watergate. Even knowing better.

Unaccustomed as most politicos and pundits are to nuance, complexity and a dearth of superficial slickness, Washington's insiders preferred to spend the weekend "bumper stickering" Fitzgerald's words and 22 page indictment, adding partisan flavors where none existed and spinning his direct statements into an end product worthy of Rumplestiltskin himself.


William Safire on Meet the Press --

(Paraphrase) There was no crime of outing a covert CIA agent.

Wrong. In actuality, we really don't know that.

Fitzgerald explained quite clearly (baseball rhetoric notwithstanding) that Irving "Scooter" Libby's attempts to obfuscate the truth and lie to the Grand Jury made it impossible to discover the actual truth of the matter. Hence the perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

As far as whether or not Valerie Plame was a NOC, I suspect Fitzgerald, with his cautious wording and refusal to break the rules of law he seems to cherish wouldn't tell the general public, anyway.

Because of this, plan to see much more right-wing talking points about "no underlying crime of outing an agent." In true Pavlovian style, they believe us all so devoid of intellect that simple repetition will create a truth where once was none.

Another talking point, from David Brooks:

Commissioned to discover if there was systemic abuse of power, (Dr.?) Fitzgerald after two years has determined there's no "cancer in the White House."

Well, not really. If we're going to turn to medical analogies -admittedly easier for me to traffic in than sports - the answer clearly outlined by Fitzgerald's findings and subsequent press conference would go like this:

After seeing clear evidence of a sickness and running subsequent tests, the good doctor has not determined exactly what's going on with the patient. He excised the obvious bad cells, but isn't sure just how much of the body has been infected. Now he must either run more tests, or wait and see what further symptoms, if any, the patient experiences.

Hey, I'm no doctor. Don't even play one on tv. Nor am I the brightest med student to walk these hallowed halls. And yet even I know that Brooks is simply trying to avoid a class action malpractice suit, at this point. This administration is known for smearing its enemies, poisoning them with innuendo and outright lies. From John McCain's primary against Bush in 2000 to the "Swift-Boating" of John Kerry -- all signs point to an overzealous immune system, the primary purpose of which is to expel any foreign matter that doesn't look and act exactly like the host.

Gah. I'm mixing medical metaphors. But you get the gist.

In the interest of fairness, the left-wing is also playing 'read the Fitzgerald' tea leaves:

While we know that Karl Rove is the most likely candidate for the party known as "Official A" in the Libby indictment proper, Harry Reid calling on Bush to fire Rove at this point presumes a status that is not proferred and imputes a role to Rove as yet unproven.

The use of "Official A" does make him an ongoing suspect, in legal terms. What it doesn't do is confirm his identity. That's just speculation. Informed speculation, given Rove's history of operational procedure in politics andthe fact he's considered still in legal jeopardy.

Should he be indicted, then by all means - toss the porker on the spit. (That last line makes quite evident my personal feelings about Karl Rove.)

This Wilson/Plame smear has his fingerprints all over it; for proof, one need only go watch Bush's Brain at the Sundance Channel on Comcast on Demand. However, despite coming within striking distance of indicting, Fitzgerald and the Grand Jury did not actually charge him. So he's not (to use his own words about Valerie Plame) "fair game."

As for Fitzgerald, I really do believe he's no partisan hack. It'll be hard (but not impossible, given their past) for the right-wing smear machine to paint our modern-day Mr. Smith into Senator McCarthy.

No doubt they'll try, but as he showed so ably on Friday, Mr. Fitzgerald emanates something few Washington insiders of any stripe can even fake well: sincerity.

Americans instinctively sense the real thing when they see it. Or rather, the America I remember was full of people who recognized and rewarded honesty and integrity - and I don't think we've strayed so far as to be irredeemable just yet.

Misguided, blinded, too busy and consumed by worry to notice much? Yes. But devoid of solid bullshit detectors? Not yet.

His track record squeaky clean and filled with hints about his prosecutorial style, Fitzgerald has a "bottom up" approach when it comes to exposing illegal activity. He initially grabs that which he can most capably bite into and holds-on, eventually working his way up to through the chain of corruption and getting right to the main course.

Whether he will do it yet again remains to be seen. I've no doubt, however, he's already in for a very bumpy ride. Nor do I have any doubt he'll emerge both victorious and vindicated at the end.

Welcome to Washington, Mr. Fitzgerald.
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