A Study In Contrasts
(Photo of Fred Hiatt via Washington Life.)
In the annals of the fact challenged, today's editorial in the Washington Post juxtaposed against an editorial done by the Guardian UK is a study in contrasts. It's enough to give a reader whiplash to go from "Lies About Crimes" to Fred Hiatt's factually inaccurate Cheney apologia on the ComPost editorial page.
Rather than pick my way through the deliberately obtuse obfuscations in Hiatt's spurious bilge, allow me to present the Guardian UK's take:
For two main reasons. The first concerns the ethics of the administration of which Mr Libby, as top aide to Dick Cheney, was such a senior member. George Bush came to the White House in January 2001 pledging to "change the atmosphere in Washington DC". By this he apparently meant two things: one, that he would govern in a dignified and rule-respecting way that supposedly contrasted with that of Bill Clinton; and, two, that he would try to end the intense partisan bitterness that had marked the Washington of the Clinton era. The Libby case is prosecution exhibit number one in support of the charge that Mr Bush never attempted to do any such thing. On the contrary. The Bush administration has been ruthlessly partisan, fuelled by enmities worthy of the Nixon era. The outing of Ms Plame was a criminal act against the wife of an administration critic. Mr Libby lied about it. He presumably did it to protect Mr Cheney, who wanted to punish the Wilsons. Mr Libby's conviction therefore raises very direct questions about Mr Cheney's own position.
The second reason is because, at bottom, Mr Libby's lies concerned Iraq. The administration wanted to invade Iraq. Mr Cheney, and through him Mr Libby, was not particular about how to do it. When Mr Wilson publicly questioned the weapons of mass destruction case for war he therefore made himself a Cheney enemy. As a consequence, the White House took its revenge on him through his wife. Mr Libby lied to protect not just his boss but his boss's unjust war. That's why yesterday's verdict matters. This affair is not over yet – not by a long chalk. (emphasis mine)
The fact that a British newspaper can see the broader political and ethical issues more clearly than their American counterparts is not surprising. Looking afar at the machinations of the Bush Administration and how it has clawed its way through the upper echelons of the Blair government has become something of a journalistic sport in the UK.
But the fact that an American newspaper, located in the nation's capitol, which made its journalistic bones twenty times over only a few short decades ago digging into the meat of a scandal that shook the very foundations of power — a newspaper which now has an editorial page that begs at the knees of Dick Cheney's sycophants like just another lap dog hoping for a few, paltry scraps?
Now THAT is appalling. And quite sad.
I may have to go back through the factual inaccuracies in the Hiatt mess at some point today, because they are so glaring, so easily fact-checked, and thus so deliberately plopped into the editorial like too many currents in a moldy, old scone, that someone tossed Fred Hiatt's way over the facsimile transom.
But it will have to wait for more coffee and a bit of rumination. For some reason, this morning, the privileged hand of Donald Graham on the editorial page seems to have left a very large thumbprint.
(H/T to DeWitt Grey for the link to the Guardian piece.)