Since we're quoting OP-ED pieces regarding this issue, here's my contribution. And since the Wapo article carries the same water as Mehlman's talking points, just replace Mehlman for Wapo below:Republican Leaders: We Support Plame's Outing
Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 12:09:55 PDT
Armando has already noted Ken Mehlman and other Republican reactions, but I want to re-emphasize it, because the "spin" really is contemptible, and demonstrates just how ethically corrupt the central "core" of the Republican machine has become.
All yesterday, every Republican in Washington simply clammed up -- the AP and other news reports couldn't get anyone to go on the record condemning Karl Rove. Or defending him, for that matter. Republicans wouldn't touch the issue with a ten-foot pole. But after an intense day of Spin Camp, they're set to go, and the spin they've chosen is founded on an attempt to misdirect people from all of the basic facts of the case.
The RNC and other parties are now reading from the approved, faxed talking points. The central argument is this, according to the two-sentence statement by RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman:
It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking their political cues from the far-left, Moveon wing of the party. The bottom line is Karl Rove was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story based on a false premise and the Democrats are engaging in blatant partisan political attacks.
Sounds like he supports Karl Rove's actions to me. However, while that spin is so furious that it could dry a pair of jeans in ten minutes, it's still nothing more than spin. Which is a polite way of saying lie.
Mehlman admits, at least, the central premise which the White House is still denying -- that Rove talked to Cooper, at minimum, about CIA NOC agent Plame's identity. That much has been acknowledged by Rove's own lawyer. But let's examine the obvious conclusions of Mehlman's statement.
Mehlman freely admits that Rove was talking to the reporter to "discourage" him from writing his story, a story which was very damaging to Bush, and which was admitted to be true by the White House on the 7th of July -- four days before Rove's conversation with Cooper. And to do that, Rove gave Cooper the information about Plame's CIA status.
Is the outing of an undercover agent during a time of war acceptable to "discourage" a negative story acceptable, now? Is that the Republican position? Not that Rove didn't do it, but that it was OK to do it in the course of shaping news reports?
If Rove was for a minute concerned with "discouraging" damaging stories in the press, you know what he could have done? Discouraged reporters from outing an undercover agent. Or at the very least, refused to talk about the status of undercover agents. He didn't. He made it a point -- he and apparently at least six other Bush administration officials -- to broadcast Plame's CIA status to reporters. That doesn't sound to me like someone working in the interests of American national security.
There was once a time when President Bush -- and Scott McClellan, for that matter -- had plausible deniability on Rove's actions. The White House stated repeatedly that Rove was not involved with the Plame outing; that he was explicitly asked about involvement with the Plame outing, and denied it; and that anyone who was determined to have had a part in the outing would be fired.
The President no longer has that plausible deniability. Both Cooper and Rove's own lawyer have confirmed Rove's conversation with Cooper, the Friday before Novak's column would appear in papers. Now the President has to decide whether Rove's known actions are ones he will endorse. And so does the RNC, and so does every Republican senator and congressman. It's time to chose between party and ethics; between talking points and country.
Time to choose. Now.
As for the boilerplate of Mehlman's statement itself, which states "It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking their political cues from the far-left, Moveon wing of the party" -- You know what, Ken? Fuck you. Personally. I can say that now, because your Vice President said so.
Being anti-corruption is not "far-left". Or is it, now? Being anti-treason isn't "far-left". Or is it, now?
Despite the RNC insistence that every exposure of Republican crime and corruption -- whether it be Rove, DeLay, Cunningham, or other Republican figures under active criminal investigation -- is a trick by the evil far-left MoveOn or other groups that have the audacity to support Democrats instead of Republicans, that simply isn't the case. It is a tired joke, at this point. It stopped even being insulting a few years ago, and now is simply recognized as the last refuge of a pack of scoundrels -- the talking point that acts as a few sentences of placeholder, in all Republican generated documents, until it can be edited out for some more credible defense against Republican amorality or corruption.
You don't want corrupt Republicans to be exposed? Then condemn them. Expose them. Expell them. At some point, your party is going to have to treat government with the same seriousness that you treat campaigning, and not simply as a perpetual money trough for rewarding anyone who has given the correct amount of money to the party through Jack Abramoff, through Texans for a Republican Majority, or other spigots.
And that, then, is the central lesson of the Republican reaction. Republicans -- whether partisan bloggers, conservative interest groups, or Republican Party leaders -- choose entirely to define the issue as parsing whether or not what Karl Rove did was strictly illegal. There should be a roughly higher standard, for Republicans, then the line between felony and not felony. At one point in time, the Republicans held the standard that there were moral, ethical, and patriotic lines that should not be crossed. Those notions have been completely discarded. According to the Republican leadership of Rove, DeLay, Reed, Abramoff, Santorum, Frist, Hastert, Mehlman, and President Bush himself, the only defining line in acceptable behavior is whether or not the government can put you in prison for doing it.
And even then, we find numerous Republican officials treading the wrong side of that line.
So Ken Mehlman, you've got a decision to make. The top advisor to the White House has been exposed as having direct connections to the "outing" of a CIA NOC agent. Documents confirm it. Both Cooper and Rove's own lawyer admit it. You need to decide how long you're going to defend it, or if maybe -- maybe -- damaging this country's intelligence capabilities during a time of war is a line that you, Ken Mehlman, don't want to cross.