Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Personal Asides: Solving the Patrick Fitzgerald Question Enraged Some Readers: Why?...How to Conduct Yourself in the Presence of a Political Amateur The Fred Thompson Near-Hoax Another Trivia.
Last week I suggested that it is far easier to find out the politics of U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald than could possibly be supposed. Reason: he is a fan of WWDTM (Wait-Wait! Dont Tell Me!), the NPR quiz game that tests players on how closely they read the papers and whether or not they can identify quotations with their sources. Nothing wrong with that except that the moderator of the game is a typical NPR lefty with a sardonic, down-his-nose braying laugh at conservatives wherein the entire audience joins in with hooting laughter. No one, I wrote, can listen to the program and enjoy it without being either an actual or a crypto-lefty which, I submitted and do submit, Patrick Fitzgerald indubitably is.
This caused something of a flurry including a response written in kid-talk semi-English by his cousin who kept on using the terms BTW (By the way) stuff that is used frequently in text messaging. But the most sarcastic response came in the defense of Fitzgeralds actions on Scooter Libby and the Valerie Plame case. The passage of time has convinced me what the Plame case is but let me restate my position on Fitzgeralds action. It is given as a surety that Libby told an incidental lie under oath so Fitzgerald was right to indict him for perjury in the case. But President Bush was partially right in commuting Libbys sentence. Partially right and partially wrong since he should have pardoned Libby withal. Now to the guts of the case to see where Fitzgerald fits in the breadth of history.
1. Joseph Wilson has been unmasked as a chronic embellisher to fit the modishly long-haired rather handsome con man-scamp he looks like and indeed is. One you wouldnt want you daughter near for even one date and whom you would gladly run out of the house on healthy suspicion of saturnine seduction if you caught him even talking to a teen-aged girl.
2. Do you believe the Plame affair was about the outing of a covert
CIA agent? At the end, it was not in the least and the fact you may
still be under that illusion. Ms. Plame was listed in Whos Who
as the wife of Joseph Wilson and a CIA employee. Her value as a
covert operative was ended years ago by the traitor Aldrich Ames
The name of the game was to get Karl Rove for alleged-
ly wreaking vengeance on a defenseless, beauteous woman who
is the wife of the hated Joseph Wilson who had to be punished for
trying to knock in the head the view that Saddam was trying to
buy nuclear materials from Niger. That was the reason for the
media stakeouts in Roves driveway and the frenzied bulletins that
engulfed all newsrooms: Rove will be indicted today! that lasted
for weeks. The liberal media were so eager to see Rove indicted
that they forgave Fitzgerald for what otherwise they would have
regarded as a hideous sin: the throwing of reporters in jail for
refusing to disclose their sources.
3 Theres plenty of hypocrisy to go around. Just as liberals brushed off the jailing of a journalist (she was a rarity: Judy Miller, a New York Times Iraq hawk), conservative paleos like Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran chortled that Libby got what is coming to him for deigning to serve his country in wartime and hoped that Rove would as well.
4. Where does Fitzgerald come out in the matter? No one does he
resemble more, as the New York Times David Brooks has written, than Javert, the fictional character from Victor Hugos novel Les Miserables who has set on a lifelong quest to arrest Jean Valjean a zealot who cannot conceive of justice tempered by mercy and who pursues his hunting down of a good man who had been imprisoned on a minor charge and then escaped heedless of the good he has done in his life and physically incapable of understanding that to act lawfully would be to act immorally so he drowns himself in the River Seine. Heres where Fitzgerald resembles Javert. Fitz is given a task to find out who leaked Plames supposed covert status a status that does not exist because it has been uncovered earlier by a traitor. Fitz takes the case all the while aware of who told Robert Novak that Plame worked for the CIA: Richard Armitage, a critic of the war and an associate of Colin Powell.
Fitz and the Justice Department keep the knowledge to themselves. That is where Fitz should have bowed outsaying the mystery he was hired to solve has been solved. He did not do this. He perceives through a long investigation with Justices support and finds that Libby did lie in another matter so he hangs Libby. Thus like Javert Fitzgerald possesses probity, sincerity and sense of duty but which are hideous when wrongly directed., It is the honest, pitiless joy of a fanatic or exactly the words Hugo uses to describe Javert.
Fitzgerald as Javert is indeed a fine prosecutorbut he has lacked
the essential perspicacity of a great public official. I have no doubt that his love of WWDTM is further depiction of what liberalism really is: a love of means without appreciation of ends.
Where Brooks and I part company is over Bush. Brooks says Bushs commutation of Libbys sentence was exactly rightadding it punishes him for his perjury but not for the phantasmagorical political face that grew to surround him. It takes away his career but not his family. I say no. There should have been a full pardon given to Libby. While one purpose of the pardon clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) is to temper justice with mercy, it is also to do justice in the event that new or mitigating evidence comes to bear on a person who may have been wrongly convicted as Hamilton has said in The Federalist 74. Another aspect of the pardon power focuses not on obtaining justice for the person pardoned but rather on the public-policy purposes of the government. My view is that Libby was so honorably involved in the public policy purpose of government at war that he should have been pardonedif for no other reason than to offset the foolishness of Fitzgerald to proceed like Javert when the perpetrator of the leak had been identified and in fact identified himself. Ergo: Fitzgerald being Fitzgerald prosecuted Libby for a lie that had no relevance to the case; Bush appreciating the national security picture as Javert-Fitzgerald did not, should should have backed Libby with a full pardon.
Somehow there has grown up a myth that the presidential pardon is an exita dishonorable onefrom justice. We Republicans have often been guilty of that. Now Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Dick Durbin have used that one. The power to pardon is one of the least limited powers granted to the President in the Constitution. It is derived from the royal English prerogative of kings, which dates before the Norman invasion. Our Republican colleagues have criticized the pardon of Marc Rich and others by President Clinton (which Libby himself as a lawyer for Rich sought). The fact that in some peoples eyes Rich was a scamp is immaterial.. The pardon power has been and will always be a powerful constitutional power of the president. Only the wisdom of the president and here possibly Clintons action can be criticized only the wisdom of the president can ensure its appropriate use.
Each summer Lillian and I look forward to a bacchanalian combination of feast and entertainment sponsored by Richard Driehaus at his Lake Geneva estate marking his birthday. We got invited because Richard a billionaire once told me he enjoyed my articles in the Sun-Times and ever since weve been on the list along with 400 others. Last Saturday the event began with a complete old-time circus complete with festive, authentic, antique circus wagons parading around the estate as we walked to the Big Top where bands, ringmasters and high wire trapeze artists from China entertained. Cost of the annual party must run into the double-digit millions. To show you that no stone was left unturned in the expenses, there were beautiful show-girls in tights with no function more than to look beautiful and direct the crowd to the circus Big Top saying, this way to the Big Top! Lillian and I asked one an exquisite beauty where she was from and she said New York City.
I said: You mean you come here just for this event and for this? She said yes, she had been to several Driehaus events and that in real life she is a dancer with the Rockettes. Can you imagine the cost of bringing them to Illinois the plane fare, putting them up when local girls would do?
Anyhow, we were treated to a wonderful sit-down meal and this time, unlike the past, were assigned to tables (rather than serving ourselves buffet-style). We were seated with people we didnt know and my table-mate turned out to be a physician who had come all the way from Dallas for this event. He was in the process of being over-served with adult beverages however and he let me know that not only did he know Driehaus but was his guest in the adjoining mansion (which none of us had ever entered) for dinner. I was supposed to be edified at this. Well, I wasand edified with him until he said this:
You know, the other night I watched on HBO a documentary about the life of Barry Goldwater and came to the conclusion finally as to what kind of political animal I ama Barry Goldwater Republican!
Fair enough except that in recent years this Barry Goldwater Republican stuff has been picked up by the duplicitous left and political naifs who dont know what theyre saying. The Barry Goldwater who signed off on the Conscience of a Conservative book written in his name by Brent Bozell was a Cold War warrior identical with Ronald Reagan. The Barry Goldwater who wound up his career in the Senate was far different, having married a much younger woman who convinced him to forsake conservative social issues that he once espoused pro-life particularly. The Goldwater who left the Senate was a rather pathetic hulk who drank too much, blasted evangelical Christians when in his cups and espoused gay rights. It is this Barry Goldwater of whom Hillary Clinton has spoken so fondly. A Goldwater who was newly libertarian pro-marijuana, anti-life, pro-gay and as enlarged by the paleos entire antithetical to the foreign policy of George W. Bush, although Goldwater who died in 1998 had no inkling of the dimensions of terrorism that would hit the land.
Since then the I am a Goldwater Republican crowd has also included people with little or no sense of modern U. S. history. So when my doctor friend, oiled up with bubbly, turned to me and said, I am a Goldwater Republican I was not noticeably impressed.
But anybody for George W. Bush! he announced.
I said, well, George W. Bush wont be running because he cannot.
Well, I said, if youre a Goldwater Republican and a critic of the Iraq War, I suppose youd be for Ron Paul for president.
Dr. Ron Paul, a Texas physician as you are and a Republican congressmanone of the very few on either side of the aisle who voted against the Iraq War and who regularly votes against appropriations to carry out the War and who wants our troops to come home.
I dont know him very well.
Im surprised. He comes closest to the fit of a Goldwater Republican such as you describe although Goldwater was not a Goldwater Republican in his middle years.. But Ron Paul is decidedly against the War.
He was dismayed. Well, I dont know much about him but I am for Barack Obama.
And Barack Obama fits the bill of Goldwater Republican?
Closest Ive found.
You realize that Goldwater voted against the civil rights bill of 1963.
Well, though, on other things.
You realize Goldwater espoused the use of nuclear weapons for the purpose of defoliating the jungles of Vietnam but did not exclude them on other things.
Listen, who are you for?
Given that I am a Republican and that by the sharpest estimate I can ascertain, there is only a 35% chance of we Republicans retaining the presidency, I would say that the one who could come closest to holding on to it if and only if there is another terrorist scare is a man who is not my first, second or third choice in preference but would be most likely to winRudy Giuliani.
Giuliani? Sir, we have nothing further to talk about!
I had suspected as much. Indeed, you have probably talked too much.
I have come to the tentative conclusion that the wait for Fred Thompson to come in with a dynamic, charismatic campaign to save us theme is a hoax. The only thing I can compare it to was the Dwight Eisenhower candidacy that urged the 5-star hero of World War II to return to run for president which lasted for several years. But then Republicans knew what they would get with Eisenhower, a genuine world leader. With Fred Thompson they are getting a so-so former U. S. Senator and a nationally known actor on Law and Order. The impact he left as U. S. Senator was very vague and immeasurable; the impact he has left as a television actor was important but not substantive.
More than many, I have been waiting for Thompson because I thought he would give a genuinely different delineation. The fact that this hasnt happened has baffled me dates for his announcement pushed back from July 4 to August to now September. I wondered what was behind it. Did the Washington, D. C. madam have his telephone number? Was his cancer acting up? I can only conclude that the one who has been acting up is his looker wife who, 24 years younger than he who has had about 18 months as an expert in politics working for the RNC, has been busily firing and hiring people for the campaign and thus stirring the pot. Firing a campaign manager before the campaign has started is ridiculous. Obviously he cannot control her. And when voters really get a look at her and listen to her they wont be entranced. Nor happy with the fact that this old man seemingly cant control her.
The second thing about Thompson is this. Look at him on Law and Order and you see a 6-foot-seven inch icon of conservatism and principled law enforcement. But thats because the professional lighting and makeup is of the highest caliber that a studio can afford. Look at him as he makes a speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and you see an old geezer, looking every bit his wrinkled age with words and thoughts that are commonplace. You also havent seen him on a stage with the others: Romney, McCain or Giuliani. He is benefiting by missing the debates which is good for his image but not good for the Republican electorate which deserves to hear and see him react to debate stimuli.
Finally, you have to take a look at realistic politics. Start off with the state of Illinois. Giuliani has the benefit of two co-chairs who are skilled at what they do: Ron Gidwitz who has been raising funds statewide for a generation for everyone from Henry J. Hyde to numberless candidates and Tom Cross, the state Republican leader who is one of the states most vigorous Republican political leaders. Who does Fred Thompson have? He has Roger Keats who 20 or 25 years ago was a state senator but who has been earning money and out of the game for many years. The other leaders are either unknown or not known for organizing. McCain has Jim Durkin, a moderately known state legislator and Romney has a well-known state senator, Dan Rutherford. My point is that the Giuliani, Romney and McCain types, whatever you think of them, know the state and can pull the levers. The Fred Thompson team here is distinctly second-rate. And frankly I dont know anyone across the country who has been identified with them who is well-known.
When a very snooty and snotty Manhattan waiter died a man known for his disdainful looks and inattentiveness to all but the very wealthy in the posh restaurant, a number of discomfited guests chipped in for a tombstone if they were allowed to write the epitaph. They were allowed and so what epitaph did they write?