The Weekly Standard
's William Kristol captures
with panache the preferred GOP spin on Friday's prosecutorial doings in Washington:
It may sound odd to call this good news for the president. But go back and read the fevered anticipations and lethal expectations of Bush's critics over the last month. This was going to be the moment when the case for war was discredited. This was going to be the moment when the supposed venality and corruption of the Bush administration was going to be exposed. This was going to be the moment when the whole criminal conspiracy would unravel. This was going to be the moment of paralysis and disgrace for Bush and Cheney and the assorted warmongers in their employ.
What nonsense. Only the most hyperbolic marginal leftoids contended that Fitzgerald's probe would discredit the case for war, unravel a "whole criminal conspiracy," or produce wholesale paralysis and disgrace for the administration. The outcome of the investigation was eagerly awaited because of its promise to show through the eyes of an unimpeachably nonpartisan prosecutor the morally repugnant lengths to which this administration will go to neutralize dissent that challenges its warmaking motives. Calling this a victory because it wasn't as bad as some concocted political horror is cheap political spin of the most transparent kind.
But it will also be political spin of the most effective kind if Democrats don't learn how to anticipate and demolish it. The lies Libby is said to have told may seem like modest exaggerations of information flow in the name of political advantage, but the ball on which Dems need to keep their eyes is not minor malfeasance in political strategy, but the corrupt process of mixing intelligence and foreign policy into a contrived case for war. The issue is not how Libby lied, but why Libby lied, and what it says about how this administration sees the act of governing. It's not an easy argument to make in moron-friendly soundbites, but it's one that Democrats need to figure out. Quick.