Friday, April 29, 2005

The Valerie Plame case and today's Republican Party

Murray Waas of the whatever already! blog notes that I was mistaken in my earlier post in assuming that his blog was mostly devoted to the Valerie Plame case.  He does blog about other things.

He was kind enough not to mention that I misspelled his name twice, an oversight which I've now corrected in the earlier post.

I'll give myself a partial excuse on the former glitch by saying that I was so happy to find a blog that was really keeping up with the Plame case and providing links and information for those of us who worry that it will be sucked down the memory hole, that I assumed it was kind of like all-Plame-all-the-time, which it's not.

That said, Waas is continuing to blog on the Plame case.  He is providing some original reporting on it at his blog, including upcoming material from an interview with Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment attorney arguing for the reporters being pressed to name their sources in the Plame case.   

And he links to this interview with her husband Joe Wilson at Daily Kos:  Ambassador Wilson: White House Operatives Are Traitors 04/25/05.  Yes, Wilson said "traitors."

The interview starts with a discussion of Waas' American Prospect article to which I linked earlier.  Wilson says, "I have said all along that the compromise of Valerie's covert identity was part of a conspiracy hatched in the White House to smear and discredit me."  He also criticizes the work of Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt, aka, "Steno Sue," famous for cheerfully the Bush White House spin to her readers.

Wilson, who was famous for his courage in confronting Saddam Hussein's threats when he was Ambassador to Iraq on the eve of the Gulf War, seems to be very passionate about this matter:

How could the president keep people of such low ethical standards in positions of responsibility? It's an outrage. Don't forget that the smear campaign began after the administration acknowledged to the Washington Post that "the sixteen words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address." The smears continued for well over a year and included in its most virulent forms, including the calling of Valerie and me liars and traitors. ...

There are people in the administration who are right now sitting back and watching while their actions may lead to the jailing of two journalists. That they not step forward is an indication of their cowardice. But we have known for a long time that, like a lot of schoolyard bullies, they are cowards at heart. And in this case, traitors to their country.

When asked to speculate about the leakers, Wilson responds:

I have read in the Post that two leakers called six reporters. But the leakers were probably not the decision-makers. They just carried out the decisions of their superiors.

The intriguing question is: Who gave the name to the White House in the first place? Who in the intelligence community offered up my wife's name and why?

This was not an agency leak. There might have been an individual within the agency who leaked, but not the CIA as an institution. They asked me to do a job, I did it, they were satisfied.

And Wilson sees the Plame leak as a case of Republican campaign ethics - or, with the Bush administration, lack of same - taken to damaging extremes:

Sure. Start with the attacks on John McCain in South Carolina during the 2000 election. Look at what they did to Richard Clarke, with Bill Frist accusing him of perjury on the floor of the Senate. Swift Boat Veterans savaged John Kerry with their lies.

It has become, regrettably, a common tactic of the right. One need look no further than Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, Hannity and Ann Coulter. Heck, James Dobson even tried to smear Spongebob. (my emphasis)

The Republicans are riding the tiger with the loony-tunes secular rightwingers and the Christian Right theocrats.  The two look nominally different.  But the Limbaughs and the Coulters are willing to echo the accusation of the Christian Right.  And the Christian right lends fanaticism and an apocalyptic viewpoint to the nonreligious right.  This phemenon goes back to the "Southern strategy" of Richard Nixon to court the so-called white backlash vote.  The alliance, which Molly Ivins calls an "unholy combination of theocracy and plutocracy," is still benefitting the Republican Party.  But the risks involved are getting bigger and bigger.

The Plame case represents one of the perils of the kind of creeping authoritarism that is more and more defining the Republican Party.  Not only are they authoritarian in their approach to government.  They are authoritarian towards they own party members, and tend to view disagreement over even a factual issue as disloyalty.  And as the party becomes increasingly self-referential, guys like Karl Rove are more and more tempted to lash out in risky and possibly illegal ways at those they see as a threat.  An obsession with secrecy is another.

The Plame case is one example among a gathering number of an hostility to critics that goes way beyond the normal bounds of politicals.  There was a real meanness in the exposure of Plame, a meanness that we're seeing from today's Republican Party in many other ways, as well.

1 comment:

purcellneil said...

The Bush mafioso go after anyone who crosses them with every tool at their disposal.  Nixon's "enemies list" and the measures taken to punish those named helped push many people, including Republicans, to favor his impeachment.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party of today is far less principled.  They stand by their man, no matter what he does. Loyalty has eclipsed honor in the GOP.

It must lead to their downfall.

Neil