Every now and then a news story comes along which, while not momentous in its impact (I can’t say I take this quite as seriously as, say, John Podhoretz), nicely sums up the particular ridiculousness of our historical moment. Like when the Vice President, on one of those plentiful days off it’s in vogue to criticize Europeans for taking, shoots a friend in the neck and face.

All of the trademarks of this administration are there: the needless violence, the unnecessary cover-up, the fallback on macho posturing, the creative use of language, the heaping of blame on a former ally. Highlights: the earnest claims that “we’ve all been peppered like this once or twice” (look for Scott McClellan to start adopting this language to describe our troops in Iraq), and the apparent consensus – which poor Mr. Whittington will no doubt have to join – that it was all his own fault for sneaking up on Cheney.



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.


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.

Following the condemnation of Israel’s extra-judicial assassination this morning by the UN, the EU, Canada, Britain, Denmark, Turkey, the Vatican, and others, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan had this to say:

We are deeply troubled by this morning’s actions in Gaza.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the assasination, the Israeli government has made the unfortunate decision, despite the protest of the Foreign Press Association, to ban journalists with Israeli citizenship from entering Gaza to report