THE WEEK IN RESTORING HONESTY AND INTEGRITY TO GOVERNMENT

If Roberts’ nomination was supposed to push perjury and the outing of an undercover agent off the front pages, it hasn’t been entirely successful. We now know that Ari Fleischer (don’t you miss him?) had the memo identifying Plame, that it was marked as secret information, and that he told the Grand Jury he never saw it. And we now know that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are both under investigation for perjury over their own Grand Jury testimony. And now Time is casting further doubt on claims that Rove heard about Plame from media contacts and reporting one official’s account of “general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others” about Plame.” But they’re not the only ones failing to tell the truth under oath on an issue of urgent public concern. Turns out John Bolton falsely disclaimed having been interviewed about the original Niger forgeries which inspired Rove and company to smear Joe Wilson in the first place. Bolton’s truth problem, unsurprisingly, seems not to have given any pause to President Bush in his plan to bypass the Senate with a recess appointment.

As for Roberts himself, looks like he’s been less than upfront about his role in litigating Black Floridians’ votes out of existence in the name of equal protection. Same goes for his Federalist Society membership, which makes you wonder what other groups he doesn’t remember joining. And most troublingly, he may have told Dick Durbin that he would recuse himself from casting votes to uphold laws or rulings in accordance with the constitution and opposition to his faith, an especially eerie argument in light of his callous, anti-pluralistic advice that students who don’t feel comfortable with sectarian religious observance at their graduations just stay home.

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BUSH BACKTRACKS

Scott McClellan, October 6, 2003: “The topic came up, and I said that if anyone in this administration was responsible for the leaking of classified information, they would no longer work in this administration.”

George W. Bush a few minutes ago, on whether that policy still stands: “If someone committed a crime, that person will not be in my administration.”

And here we thought it was liberals who went around “moving goalposts” and “defining deviancy down,” and George Bush who would bring us a “responsibility era.” Based on Ken Mehlman’s praise of Fitzgerald in his performances in front of the press yesterday (“Hey look! ‘Vindicate’ rhymes with ‘implicate’ – but it means the opposite!”), the Republicans seem to be betting that Fitzgerald won’t be able to prove Rove and company guilty, and that the spin-masters will be able to convince us that that means no one did anything wrong.

Just remember: Bush was for responsibility before he was against it.

LIES AND THE LYING LIARS WHO RUN THE COUNTRY

The Associated Press finally states the obvious: the White House hasn’t told the American people the truth:

The vice president’s chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was a source along with the president’s chief political adviser for a Time story that identified a CIA officer, the magazine reporter said Sunday, further countering White House claims that neither aide was involved in the leak…Until last week, the White House had insisted for nearly two years that Libby and Rove had no connection to the leak…The White House refused last week to repeat its denials about Rove’s involvement.

And as Matt Cooper’s account of his testimony demonstrates, Rove’s apologists are still lying on his behalf:

I recall saying something like, “I’m writing about Wilson,” before he interjected. “Don’t get too far out on Wilson,” he told me…I did not learn her name until the following week, when I either saw it in Robert Novak’s column or Googled her, I can’t recall which. Rove did, however, clearly indicate that she worked at the “agency”–by that, I told the grand jury, I inferred that he obviously meant the CIA and not, say, the Environmental Protection Agency. Rove added that she worked on “WMD” (the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction) issues and that she was responsible for sending Wilson. This was the first time I had heard anything about Wilson’s wife…I have a distinct memory of Rove ending the call by saying, “I’ve already said too much.”…Rove may have testified that we had talked about welfare reform, and indeed earlier in the week, I may have left a message with his office asking if I could talk to him about welfare reform. But I can’t find any record of talking about it with him on July 11, and I don’t recall doing so.

So much for claims that Joe Wilson came up in passing in an interview on welfare reform, or that Rove didn’t leak anything new about his wife.

LET’S REVIEW

In the wake of a vicious terror attack on American soil, the President of the United States, citing dubious intelligence “fixed around the policy,” led this country into a destructive and unjustified war war which has left Americans less safe than before.

When a US diplomat publicly disputed an intelligence claim later retracted by the White House itself, someone working for the President of the United States broke the law by leaking his wife’s identity as a covert operative to a reporter, blowing her cover in retaliation for her husband’s criticism.

Two years ago, the White House Spokesman told reporters that whoever made the leak would be fired, and that Karl Rove, now Deputy Chief of Staff, was “not involved in this.”

Yesterday, after revelations that Rove was a source for the story, and his lawyer’s weak defense that Rove didn’t mention Plame “by name” (Joseph Wilson only has one wife), the White House announced that it would refuse to answer any questions about the scandal, indefinitely, “as part of cooperating fully with the investigation.”

Among the journalists’ questions McClellan declined to answer yesterday:

Does the President stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a CIA operative?

Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?

Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove’s lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff?

Does the President continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?

Has there been any change or is there a plan for Mr. Rove’s portfolio to be altered in any way?

I presume that the prosecutor did not ask you not to take action, and that if he did, you still would not necessarily abide by that; that the President is free to respond to news reports, regardless of whether there’s an investigation or not. So are you saying that he’s not going to do anything about this until the investigation is fully over and done with?

Who is Karl Rove as it relates to this current administration?

Now, are you concerned that in not setting the record straight today that this could undermine the credibility of the other things you say from the podium?

Scott, at this point, are we to consider what you’ve said previously, when you were talking about this, that you’re still standing by that, or are those all inoperative at this point?

When the leak investigation is concluded, does the President believe it might be important for his credibility, the credibility of the White House, to release all the information voluntarily that was submitted as part of the investigation, so the American public could see what the — what transpired inside the White House at the time?

Scott, was it — who in the investigation made this request of the White House not to comment further about the investigation?

Yes, in your dealings with the special counsel, have you consulted a personal attorney?

These are questions we all deserve to have answered.

There’s been a lot of buzz the past few days amongst the pundits about how the Democrats have lost touch with Red America. As I said before, I think Dems are right to be considering how they could perform better in those regions which have so often borne the brunt of GOP austerity measures. But I think it’s curious and telling how infrequent it is that we hear the Republicans accused of having lost touch with the values of Blue America. This was the election in which they lost their last Northeastern outpost, New Hampshire. The reality is that there’s a sizable, nearly contiguous piece of the country in which Republican Presidential candidates are failing (thank God) to win votes, despite Karl Rove’s best-laid plans. And despite peculiar arguments pointing out that the red areas have more land mass, about half of Americans live in the blue ones. Strange how, while we in this country hold by “One person, one vote,” not “One square mile, one vote,” conservative pundits – especially the blue-state-headquartered-punditocracy – seem to relish displaying the map and pointing out that the red part looks bigger. I think it’s fair to say that something in the American popular consciousness – maybe racial demons, maybe suspicion of crowds, maybe those much touted “millenial anxieties” over technological and social upheaval – stills holds forth America’s rural parts as more authentically American, more pure, more decent than its cities. Everyone wants to be the candidate of rural values, not urban ones. Personally, it’s important to me to raise my kids in a city precisely because I want to bring them up with the values best exemplified in cities, where larger, more diverse, more densely packed groups of people are forced to find ways to work together in proximity and sometimes in synergy. Interestingly, few of these places vote for Republicans in national elections. The two struck on September 11 are no exception.

A strong speech by John Kerry this morning, although also one whose sometimes somewhat stilted delivery provided a good reminder of one of the great benefits of having John Edwards on the ticket. Kerry hit the right marks:

John Edwards and I are going to work together to build one America for all Americans.

We need a President whose working as hard to keep Americans’ jobs as he is to keep his own.

I have worked with John Edwards side by side and sometimes head to head…I know his skill, I know his passion, I know his strength, I know his conscience. I know his faith.

And he quoted Langston Hughes’ tremendous “Let America Be America Again.”

And the crowd loved all of it.

The talking heads are already making hay of Edwards’ supposed inexperience. I’d say Edwards brings exactly the experience George Bush (and arguably John Kerry) lacks: Experiencing the hardship of poverty and personal tragedy, building a career and securing economic security for himself and his family, and working to secure justice for other working people wronged by powerful interests (that, and he was on the Senate Intelligence Committee). That’s not to say that the policies Edwards (or Kerry) advocates to bridge the two Americas are as radical as the ones that I and friends of mine with personal experience as members of the American underclass would like to see. But it is worth noting that between them, Kerry and Edwards bring to bear the experience of facing poverty at home and of facing war abroad, of a lifetime of public service and of building a tremendously successful career on one’s own while serving others – and that George Bush has none of the above experiences. He came to Washington with neither the independence of an outsider nor the experience of an insider. When he ran, he’d experienced neither the ravages of war nor the ravages of poverty – and he still hasn’t. Only this time around he can run on the experience of presiding over a three-and-a-half-year trainwreck for our jobs, our economy, our healthcare, our social security, our homeland security, our international leadership, and our civil liberties and civil rights. I’d likely support a ticket running against that record from the left (even if from not far enough to the left) from whatever personal experience. But if Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove want to make an issue of experience, bring it on.