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From It Affects You

"Hardball politics isn't pretty, but it's not criminal, either."

-- John Tierney, October 18, 2005 on the leaking of Valerie Plame's name


One of the more interesting side effects of the Plame investigation is we get to watch some people make fools of themselves as they try to dismiss the whole affair.

Clearly, there are some people who do feel treason is an acceptable political practice, and the actions of these people are why we have this investigation.  But Tierney and the Noise Machine are deeply mistaken if they believe the American people will be as accepting of treason as they are.

One almost feels sorry for the "journalists" pushing these ideas as their hearts can't really be in it.  The accusations here aren't of whisper campaigns about a candidate's sexuality or leaks of private memos where a candidate contradicts his public statements on a particular issue.  We are talking about treason, and these journalists are writing, in effect, that committing treason is nothing more than politics as usual.  Or, in John Tierney's case, that treason is not pretty.

Tierney's NY Times column today can be summed up in one sentence:  Compromising national security by leaking the names of covert CIA agents is not the problem, prosecuting people for such leaks is the problem.

So it's no surprise that Tierney's ingenious solution has nothing to do with preventing such leaks from occurring again or prosecuting those responsible for the Plame leak.  Instead, we should just let it go.

Tierney first tries to water down the crime, dismissing it as everyday kind of stuff for reporters and political operatives which has fortunately not been subject to prosecution before:

Fortunately, the law has rarely been enforced, although its use in a few recent cases has journalists worried that it's turning into the American version of the British Official Secrets Act. If it's used against Libby and Rove, the lesson for government officials would be: stop talking to reporters.

Actually, I think the lesson might be more along the lines of "stop talking to reporters about the names of covert CIA agents".

Then he tries to dismiss the investigation as the result of an overzealous prosecutor:

The lesson for the public would be: stop appointing special prosecutors.

In other words, don't stop the crimes, stop prosecuting people guilty of them.  Ironically, Tierney is trying to tap into outrage over the $40 million in tax payer money wasted by Kenneth Starr to prove that Bill Clinton received a blow job in the oval office.  He wants people to think of Starr and his wild crusade when they think of Plamegate so they perceive all evidence in those terms: overzealous prosecutor, witch hunt, political agendas, and so on.  But of course, not only has Bush undermined that line of attack by praising Fitzgerald, there's no way for reasonable people to even contemplate comparing prosecuting someone for lying about a blow job to investigating an act of treason, but then again maybe that's just me.

"Treason isn't pretty."  Sounds like John Tierney might have started a new bumper sticker craze.

From It Affects You

Originally posted to up2date on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 02:46 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As Pat Moynihan once said.... (none)
    ....our culture has suffered greatly because of the tendency of some to "define deviancy downward."

    Personally, I think John Tierney could stand a little "benign neglect."

  •  I don't think any of them... (none)
    ...thought that treason could be so specific. They thought it was more like pornography: "I know it when I see it."
  •  Ah...trying out one of their (none)
    original talking points.  For a long time, they used this line of reasoning...you know, hey...Wilson was trying to discredit us, we HAD to do it....
  •  Wrong. (none)
    The lesson for the public would be: stop appointing special prosecutors.

    The lesson is to stop electing power hungry criminals. Another one would be that pundits constantly smell shit because their heads are up their asses.

  •  Armando should have a new (none)
    "worst column ever written." Tierney pees on himself. It is so embarrassing one has to pretend not to notice.

    How/why can/would someone condemn an investigation before they know the outcome?

    Fortunately for Tierney, being an apologist for slimy underhanded political operatives who are willing to break the law to try to discredit someone who has done nothing wrong isn't pretty, but it's not criminal either.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 02:59:19 PM PDT

  •  yes, but (none)
    I'm in total agreement with everything you've said, with one important caveat.  Tierney and the gang don't believe the crime rises to treason.  The point of departure for his article is that the plamegate affair isn't about treason (whether we think it is or not) and since it's not treason, we can, by a logic of equivalence, just assume that it was a pecadilldo just as harmless as a blewinsky.  Now, if the rethugs had any integrity they would have been on the frontlines damning the independent counsel's investigation of a blow job and that's the main point, they don't have any.  
    •  I think you would find (none)
      their definition of treason would differ considerably depending on who is doing the accusing and who's being accused.  And that agrees with your point on integrity, of course.

      If you like this comment, please visit It Affects You -- Ross

      by up2date on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 03:26:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the measure of all things (none)
        and my point is that the issue isn't about a different assessment of the facts -- i.e., whether this rises to the level of treason and whether tierney "hearts" treason -- but whether or not the standards of judgment are shaped by anything that is even remotely independent of self-interest.  The only problem I had with "tierney hearts treason" was that it's a non-starter for a genuine dialogue (if that's even possible anymore). We know that he doesn't actually love treason -- his love for the burning bush is all-blinding -- but we also know that that love is the standard which for him measures all things.  It's a standard of pure self-interest, so maybe the title should have been tierney "hearts" himself
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