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Friday, September 01, 2006

Armitage, BAMBY and Schoolyard Taunts

Peter returns from his recent silence to write in a comment:
Still waiting for that post from Jonah discussing the bombshell that Armitage was the original leaker. But perhaps there's no time for eating a few portions of crow...
I've been wanting to post on this topic for days now but have been overwhelmed with the start of the new semester (Peter: you might notice that I haven't posted on anything since that story broke). Today being the day after I finished my teaching for the week, I can do so.

First, the revelation that Armitage was the first leaker certainly did surprise me (just as I'm sure it surprised essentially everyone else following the story -- although I look forward to Peter's sending me that old email in which he surmised that RA was the man). I had always wondered about Novak's "no partisan gunslinger" characterization, but I'd most recently assumed (I don't remember exactly what I thought a year+ ago) that that was a reference to someone like Marc Grossman (who may be a partisan gunslinger but isn't/wasn't known to me as one). It is worthwhile to note the reason that Armitage knew about Valerie Wilson's employ in the CIA: he read a memo that Marc Grossman put together.....at the request of the Office of the Vice President.

Second, I think Armitage is a coward, both for taking so long to confirm his role publicly and for refusing to do so himself.

Third, Armitage's role changes very little of my view about what I wrote in the post where Peter provides his latest comment. The only part that bears further comment is this:
Rove is every bit the scoundrel folks like me have been saying he is. He lied to the American people about his role in blowing Valerie Wilson's cover. Hell, he actually was willing to blow her cover (so much for the supposed national security focus of this administration).
Is it improper to refer to Rove's "role in blowing Valerie Wilson's cover"? Absolutely not. He was, indeed, willing to blow her cover: he confirmed her employment at the CIA to Novak (and then of course there was Matt Cooper and who knows who else). The fact that Rove was "only" a confirming source doesn't really matter on this point, particularly since Novak hadn't yet published the column (and it's worth noting that the CIA's press guy had refused to confirm the story and implored Novak not to print this info).

So to conclude, if Peter wants me to "eat[] a few portions of crow" because I didn't think Armitage was the leaker, then pass me a fork and a plate with a few portions of crow on it. He might then consider finding a way to do likewise when (a) he makes statements that are known to be false at the time he makes them and (b) someone points out that fact. See, for instance, the comments thread to this post, where Peter writes that "Wilson said that the Bush administration relied in part on his findings as a justification for war". As I note in my succeeding comment, that claim is simply false, something up to which Peter has yet to own.

Anyway, I guess I can always make fun of him because my portions of crow are bigger than his.

Glad we've moved this issue forward.

Update: Peter writes in the comments below that
I thought it was a central conceit ... that the Bush Administration was despicable in part because it actively sought to destroy the career of Wilson's wife as punishment for his writing the op-ed piece. And with Armitage being the original leaker, that theory is blown to smithereens (as no one, not even Jonah, will argue that Armitage is in the same camp as Rove et al).
I think that this is the one part of his comment(s) that I haven't really addressed before. Since this claim has been pushed by folks on the right beside Peter and allowed to get some traction by some reporters, editors and commentators, I want to provide a simple analogy to illustrate just how ridiculous an abuse of logic it is. So here goes:
Fact A: I go out drinking, as does Peter, though he goes out with some other people. We each drink a fifth of Bourbon.

Fact B: Peter drives home, drunk. He doesn't mean to drive drunk -- he's just too drunk to realize how drunk he is. He plows his car into a lightpole, somehow managing to drive away before the cops or any witnesses can place him at the scene.

Fact C: I drive home drunk, too. Not only do I realize I'm driving home drunk, I brag to all my friends about how drunk I am and what a great driver I am, even drunk. I even show some of my friends a briefing book I've prepared to illustrate what an effective drunk driver I am. Anyway, after Peter drives away but before anyone else happens by, I coincidentally plow my car into the same lightpole. This time, a cop drives by and arrests me for drunk driving.

Fact D: In the middle of my trial for drunk driving, in which trial the prosecutor makes a big point of establishing my gleeful intent to drive drunk, Peter allows it to be known through his lawyer (because journalists have found out and published the fact) that he was drunk and hit the lightpole before I did.

Fact E: My lawyer thunders to the jury that I must be innocent of drunk driving, since Peter was drunk and hit the pole. My lawyer goes on the O'Reilly Factor, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News Sunday and denounces the prosecutor for charging me with hitting the lightpole, since now everyone knows that Peter hit the lightpole and he didn't even mean to hit it!

(As a side note, the NYT largely ignores the story for days and then prints a story citing criticism of the prosecutor by people who think I should be allowed an exception to drunk driving laws, on the grounds that my skill in driving drunk is really important to national security since it keeps in line critics who fear getting hit when I tear by them, Conrad Burns/Bill Janklow-style. The NYT article off-handedly quotes expert observers who suggest that it is likely that my trial will hinge on whether I drove drunk and hit a pole.)
Replace Peter's failure to realize how drunk he was with Armitage's casual discussion of sensitive information, my gleeful intent to drive drunk with Rove, Libby et al's (indisputed) intent to discredit Wilson together with their contacts with reporters, and Peter's argument with the stuff in Fact E, and you have the exact same logical argument: if one guy does something for reason X, no one else can do it for reason Y -- plus, since lots of people think reason X isn't that bad, reason Y can't be bad either.

It's really quite surprising to me that any serious person would seriously make this very unserious argument.

Update 2: Just to clarify: I do not mean to suggest that Scooter Libby is on trial for the "underlying offense" of blowing Valerie Wilson's cover. I used the trial part of my analogy above for dramatic effect, though I certainly didn't need to. In any case, Scooter Libby is on trial only for the reason that the GOP Congress impeached President Clinton. Just to be clear about how minor the charges are and all.


Blogger Bu$h Ate My Baby said...

My apologies, here I thought it was a central conceit, not just to the post that perhaps I appended the comment, but on numerous posts before then, that the Bush Administration was despicable in part because it actively sought to destroy the career of Wilson's wife as punishment for his writing the op-ed piece. And with Armitage being the original leaker, that theory is blown to smithereens (as no one, not even Jonah, will argue that Armitage is in the same camp as Rove et al). So maybe it doesn't challenge that Rove was WILLING TO blow that cover (and by the way, I only picked that particular post to comment on because it was the most recent and the others had disappeared), but does this constitute the alarm over "BushLiesPeopleDieRoveGate" that was propounded again and again by my esteemed friend?

9/05/2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger Bu$h Ate My Baby said...

To your other point, replace "Wilson said that the Bush administration relied in part on his findings as a justification for war" with "Wilson said that the Bush administration twisted his findings to exaggerate the Iraqi threat, which alleged exaggeration of course were the justification for war." Thank you for asserting that I make statements that are known to be false at the time I make them, but perhaps the more charitable view was that I wasn't entirely precise in my characterization of that point because I was getting to the more central point, which yes I do still stand behind -- that if anything, at the time Wilson's report confirmed to the CIA the link, not rebutted it.

For an objective overview of the entire controversy, I invite you to read the following: http://www.factcheck.org/article222.html. Synposis is wrong, but not lying. A distinction I have been trying to make for some time, but some are even as of yet unwilling to accept.

9/05/2006 2:24 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...


To be honest, I don't think it's worth iterating all this again. I've said my piece (many times, it feels like) and stick to it.

Hope all's well with you. Drop me a less sarcastic line sometime if you'd like -- I'd love to hear how things are going (and I bet spacegirl feels similarly).


ps By the way, I walked by the Clevelander the other day and had fond memories of credit card roulette and MR's bachelor party -- you sure know how to throw one!

9/05/2006 2:50 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...


ps see the update above---i decided i should address your armitage-did-it-so-no-one-else-did argument, as i hadn't really done that previously.


9/05/2006 3:24 PM  

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