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Friday, October 28, 2005

Criminalization of Politics?

Earlier this month, the vast right wing conspiracy (VRWC) launched a new marketing campaign: brand Plamegate as "the criminalization of politics." I first became aware when The Daily Show did a bit on the term last week, but here's the proof that the VRWC is behind a coordinated effort to push this misleading term:

Every reference of the "criminalization of politics" in the 30 days before October 17 occurred on FOXNews. Each time the term was used, a FOX anchor or correspondent introduced it, not a guest. Both Chris Wallace, one of Fox's more reputable reporters, and Bill Kristol complained about the "criminalization of politics" on Fox News Sunday on October 23. On the same show, Wallace asked conservative former independent counsel Robert Ray whether Plamegate amounted to "criminalizing political conduct."

Of course, this brand defies what Republicans were saying when Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a private, consensual affair. Any minor offense provided grounds to impeach the President; if that isn't the "criminalization of politics," I don't know what is. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) is a perfect example of the Republican hypocrisy on this issue. A few days ago she stated that she hoped Fitzgerald would indict "on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime, and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars." In 1999, Sen. Hutchinson voted President Clinton "guility" of perjury and obstruction of justice. Apparently when a Democrat perjures himself regarding a private affair, we should impeach, but when a Republican perjures himself regarding potential treason, it's just a technicality and we should ignore it if you can't prove the larger crime.

The "criminalization of politics" line is meant to send that message that what Libby and Rove did was merely politics as usual. Charging them for crimes related to that politics, in the eyes of the VRWC, constitutes "the criminalization of politics." Politics can get dirty, but there are boundaries in the eys of reasonable men. The current Republicans are not reasonable men. They see no problem with outing a CIA agent and jeopardizing national security in order to acheive their craven political goals.

Finally, a note about Plamegate. Earlier this morning I speculated that more indictments are on the way. Many smart people have pointed out that perhaps Libby is being set up as the fall guy and all blame will remain with him. I wouldn't be shocked at all if that is what occurs. Due to the lack of an independant counsel with the power to subpeona the President and Vice President under oath, I'm not sure that indictments beyond Karl Rove are on the horizon.


And in true Bill O'Reilly / Steven Colbert fashion...a challenge. I challenge a conservative to respond to this post and offer a coherent defense of the Republican role in Plamegate. If you don't, then you sirs, are all cowards.

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