Friday, July 29, 2005

The GOP Nails Itself Again

By Joe Conason
The New York Observer

Republicans ready to slime Fitzgerald
For GOP, the best defense remains a good offense

Under the harsh but savvy tutelage of Karl Rove, Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated their adherence to a venerable cliché: In politics, as in sports and warfare, the best defense is always a good offense -- and the more offensive, the better. It's an effective strategy, as John Kerry and many other hapless victims have learned, and at this point also a highly predictable one.

Circled in a bristling perimeter around the White House, the friends and allies of Mr. Rove can soon be expected to fire their rhetorical mortars at Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the White House exposure of C.I.A. operative Valerie Wilson. Indeed, the preparations for that assault began months ago in the editorial columns of The Wall Street Journal, which has tarred Mr. Fitzgerald as a "loose cannon" and an "unguided missile."

Evidently Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, will lead the next foray against the special prosecutor. This week the Senator's press office announced his plan to hold hearings on the Fitzgerald probe. That means interfering with an "ongoing investigation," as the White House press secretary might say, but such considerations won't deter the highly partisan Kansan.

Of course, it was Mr. Rove's aggressively partisan style that first sparked the scandal now threatening to ruin him, back when he and other Bush administration officials "outed" Ms. Wilson in an attempt to discredit her dissenting husband during the summer of 2003. Had they not decided to leak classified information for partisan purposes, there would be no grand jury pondering indictments today.

Such ironies won't discourage the Rove Republicans from pursuing the scorched-earth strategy that has served them so well, however. Nor will those politicians and pundits pause to consider how odd their complaints about an overreaching special prosecutor will sound, emanating from once-fervent supporters of former independent counsel Kenneth Starr and his Whitewater legal jihad.

From their perspective, it's all part of the same cynical game. If Mr. Starr was subject to sharp criticism, then Mr. Fitzgerald should be a legitimate target, too. They won't remember how they once decried Mr. Starr's critics for "obstructing justice."

Defenders of the Bush White House have every right to whine about the Fitzgerald probe and the habitual excess of special counsels, no matter how lustily they once cheered the Starr inquisition. But while they'll ignore the obvious differences, with characteristic hypocrisy, that doesn't mean we have to.

The most telling contrast can be found in the matters under investigation. Mr. Starr spent tens of millions of dollars trying to prove wrongdoing by the Clintons in a defunct, money-losing land development that ended several years before they entered the White House. Somehow the Republicans -- and certain news organizations -- became convinced that those meaningless events raised questions of great national urgency.

Mr. Fitzgerald isn't looking into musty real-estate deals. He is investigating the alleged misuse of classified information by White House officials to silence a critic, and their apparent cover-up of that potentially very serious crime. Those obscure real-estate dealings in rural Arkansas probably didn't compromise national security, while the exposure of a C.I.A. official and her corporate cover may well have done so.

There is no partisan issue here. Mr. Fitzgerald is a Republican appointee, named by a Republican Justice Department to investigate alleged misconduct in a Republican administration, at the urging of a Republican President and his C.I.A. director. Mr. Starr was a Republican, appointed by a Republican-dominated judicial panel to investigate alleged misconduct by a Democratic President and his aides.

Mr. Fitzgerald is not only a Republican; he is also a highly competent prosecutor. Mr. Starr had no experience as a prosecutor, yet he was selected to replace another highly competent Republican prosecutor, Robert Fiske, who was deemed insufficiently eager to indict the Clintons for nonexistent crimes.

Mr. Fitzgerald has no known conflicts of interest in pursuing potential crimes committed by White House aides (unless it's a conflict to embarrass the President who appointed him to his current post as U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois). When Mr. Starr was appointed, he was burdened by several conflicts with the Clinton administration, including civil lawsuits where he had taken the side of President Clinton's opponents.

Finally, there's an issue of investigative duration. If Mr. Fitzgerald seeks to extend the term of the grand jury sitting in Washington, which expires next October, Republicans will instantly complain that this has all dragged on long enough and must be wrapped up forthwith.

Actually, the special counsel has pursued the Wilson leak for well under two years. The Whitewater investigation continued fruitlessly for five years, continually changing from one topic and target to another, and should have concluded long before its theme shifted from savings-and-loan shenanigans to sexual indiscretions.

If only they were candid, the Rove Republicans would say that was then, this is now -- and ethical consistency is strictly for losers.


Karen Zipdrive said...

-Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil disagrees with Bush- he gets slimed.
-Former White House Terrorism Advisor disagrees with Bush- he gets slimed.
-Theresa Heinz Kerry was courted by the GOP to take the Senate seat vacated when her GOP husband died- she turns Democrat and now she's a raving lunatic, according to the GOP.
-Ambassador Wilson disputes Bush's lies about Niger and uranium, and he, a contributor to the Bush campaign, gets slimed and his wife gets outed as a CIA agent.
Word up- if you tell the truth about the GOP, you get slimed.
Yet still so many drink the Kool-Aid.

Karen Zipdrive said...

-Former White House Terrorism Advisor *Richard Clarke* disagrees with Bush- he gets slimed.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Here's what the Bush Rovers did to GOP Senator John Mc Cain. His crime? Running against Bush in the primaries...

Bush Supporters Called McCain “The Fag Candidate.” In South Carolina, Bush supporters circulated church fliers that labeled McCain “the fag candidate.” NYT Columnist Frank Rich noted that the fliers were distributed “even as Bush subtly reinforced that message by indicating he wouldn’t hire openly gay people for his administration.”

McCain Slurs Included Illegitimate Children, Homosexuality And A Drug-Addict Wife.
Among the rumors circulated against McCain in 2000 in South Carolina was that his adopted Bangladeshi daughter was actually black, that McCain was both gay and cheated on his wife, and that his wife Cindy was a drug addict.”

Bush Campaign Used Code Words to Question McCain’s Temper.
“A smear campaign of the ugliest sort is now coursing through the contest for the presidency in 2000. Using the code word "temper," a group of Senate Republicans, and at least some outriders of the George W. Bush campaign, are spreading the word that John McCain is unstable. The subtext, also suggested in this whispering campaign, is that he returned from 5 1/2 years as a POW in North Vietnam with a loose screw. And it is bruited about that he shouldn't be entrusted with nuclear weapons.”

“Some of George W. Bush's supporters have questioned Republican presidential candidate John McCain's fitness for the White House, suggesting that his five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam drove him insane at the time.”

Bush supporters in South Carolina made race-baiting phone calls saying that McCain had a “black child.” The McCains’ daughter, Bridget, was adopted from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. In August 2000, columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the McCains “are still seething about Bush supporters in South Carolina spreading word of their dark-skinned adopted daughter.”

Rove Suggests Former POW McCain Committed Treason and Fathered Child With Black Prostitute.
In 2000, McCain operatives in SC accused Rove of spreading rumors against McCain, such as “suggestions that McCain had committed treason while a prisoner of war, and had fathered a child by a black prostitute,” according to the New Yorker.

After Rove Denied Role In McCain Whisper Campaign, Reporters Concluded He Was Behind It.
A December 1999 Dallas Morning News linked Rove to a series of campaign dirty tricks, including his College Republican efforts, allegedly starting a whisper campaign about Ann Richard being too gay-friendly, spreading stories about Jim Hightower’s involvement in a kickback scheme and leaking the educational history of Lena Guerrero. The article also outlined current dirty tricks and whisper campaigns against McCain in South Carolina, including that “McCain may be unstable as a result of being tortured while a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.” (DMN, 12/2/99) After the article was published, Rove blasted Slater in the Manchester, NH airport, “nose to nose” according to one witness, with Rove claiming Slater had “harmed his reputation,” Slater later noted. But according to one witness, “What was interesting then is that everyone on the campaign charter concluded that Rove was responsible for rumors about McCain.”

Rove Was In Close Touch With McConnell, McCain-Feingold’s Chief Opponent.
Senior White House adviser Karl Rove was in close contact with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during McConnell’s effort to fight the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill in the U.S. Senate. According to Newsweek, though Rove and Bush have publicly kept their distance from McConnell on the issue, “sources tell Newsweek that Rove is, in fact, in close touch with McConnell as GOP experts study the bill for hidden land mines.”

Bush Campaign Accused of Using Push Polls Against McCain.
College of Charleston student Suzette Latsko said she received a telephone call from a woman who identified herself as an employee of Voter/Consumer Research, and that the caller misrepresented McCain’s positions and asked if Latsko knew McCain had been reprimanded for interfering with federal regulators in the savings and loan scandal. Voter/Consumer Research is listed as a polling contractor on Bush’s Federal Election Commission filings; the Bush campaign has paid Voter/Consumer Research $93,000 through December 31, 1999. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer denied the call was a push poll, but said it was important that the Republican Party remember McCain’s role in the S&L crisis.

Bush Campaign Acknowledged Making Phone Calls.
Tucker Eskew, Bush’s South Carolina spokesman, acknowledged the Bush campaign made such calls, but claimed they were not “push polls.” Eskew added, “Show me a baseless comment in those questions.”

Bush Used Fringe Veterans Group to Attack McCain as “Manchurian Candidate.”
“In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with ‘the Manchurian Candidate.’”

Sampley Called McCain a “Coward” and a Traitor.
“Sampley… accused McCain of being a weak-minded coward who had escaped death by collaborating with the enemy. Sampley claimed that McCain had first been compromised by the Vietnamese, then recruited by the Soviets.”

Add your smear stories! The more the merrier!