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September 13, 2006

Dems’ New Plame Talking Point: Never Mind


One of the greatest instruments a politician can have is the ability to generate amnesic behavior at will. One of the greatest instruments Democrats have is the ability to generate this behavior en masse.


For several years, liberals from editorial pages to Capitol Hill have been hung up on the so-called CIA leak story, where high-ranking members of the Bush administration supposedly engineered a strategic campaign to “out” CIA employee Valerie Plame as such. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and the rest of the right-wing conspiracy were apparently engaged in that plan in order to punish Plame’s husband, Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, for attempting to discredit the administration.


It turned out, of course, that Wilson was merely flattering himself. The fact of the matter is that no one really knew who Wilson was, and as if this was possible, even fewer cared. Why would the Bush administration risk its credibility and re-election to silence someone who was no more than an insignificant participant in the debate over the Iraq War? There were much bigger fish to fry.


Nevertheless, Democrats jumped on the opportunity to yet again attack Republicans over a matter that served as a distraction from discussing real issues. God forbid they should discuss taxes, social security or homosexual marriage. No, no. The issue was Dick and Karl taking a break from their duties to figure out what exactly is the best way to mentally torment Joseph Wilson and discourage him from further criticizing the war. Because really, at the time, this appeared to be the optimal place for the administration to invest its time, energy and credibility.


Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) fell in love with the allegation and adopted it as a talking point on behalf of the Senate Democratic delegation. Schumer pointed the finger at Rove, suggesting that Bush’s political mastermind had embarked on an intimidation crusade to quell all opposition to the administration and its plan in Iraq. Continuing the assault on Rove, Democratic leader Howard Dean plainly stated, "The president should fire him,” adding "there's no question that Rove was the one that leaked the information about the CIA agent's name." Well, as it turned out, there is.


We now know that Patrick Fitzgerald, who headed the probe into the leak, knew in the very beginning who was responsible for first mentioning Plame’s job at the CIA. Richard Armitage, who served as Colin Powell’s number two in the State Department, casually mentioned the connection to columnist Robert Novak, who ended up publishing the information.


Here’s the beauty of it, though: Armitage was a fan of neither the war nor the President. Further, he “leaked” the information about Plame accidentally, not thinking that it was classified.


It turns out, therefore, that just as one would suspect, no one cared about Wilson, or about silencing him. There was no conspiracy to out the man’s wife or to suppress opposition on the part of Cheney, Rove and Libby. There was no reason for Fitzgerald to drag on the investigation for years. There was nothing. And it doesn’t get much more anticlimactic than that for Bush’s opponents.


Now that the Democrats have realized that there is, in fact, no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, they pretend that nothing happened. They have stopped talking about the matter, they have failed to apologize for their incorrect statements, and they are nowhere near trying to find out why Fitzgerald, though fully aware of the end result he was supposedly trying to reach, continued the investigation into the matter for such a long time (while coincidentally being a source of constant political damage to the administration).


It would be a travesty if they got away with it. You don’t spend years making baseless allegations, attacking the administration, and utilizing a myth as a powerful political tool only to pretend that none of it happened when it is proven that these actions were based on false claims.


Schumer should not get away with accusing Rove of leaking classified information, and Dean must be held accountable for stating claims of Rove’s involvement as fact. The editorial pages of the New York Times and other media should not be let off the hook as easily as they have been. Democrats such as those in Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey campaign now have to come up with new arguments where their old ones tied investigations into the NSA surveillance leak to the CIA leak.


Democrats have for months and years been spending political capital they never had. They took allegations as facts, and advanced their cause at the expense of truth. Though it would certainly not be sufficient to make up for these wrongs, an apology is the bare minimum that is expected at this point.


But they seem to have forgotten that anything happened, and especially that they were demonstrably wrong about it. Well, let’s remind them.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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