Trying to Hit a 5-Run Homer

Mickey Kaus notes that it is the wrong approach for Democrats, should there be indictments in the Valerie Plame case, to try to use the case to re-argue the entire case for war in Iraq rather than just stick to the basic charge of jeopardizing the CIA:

Shouldn’t it be a general premise of Democratic politics that it’s reality-based and not spin-based? And while Dems might get a majority of Americans to agree that the Iraq War was a bad move, they’d get about 95% to agree that compromising covert American agents is a bad move. Why not make the latter the issue?

It’s not just that this would be a mistake, but that it’s the exact same mistake they’ve made before: most notably in 1987 when the Democrats discovered the Reagan Administration doing something politically explosive and contrary to its stated principles – trading arms to Iran for hostages – and frittered away all the political benefits of this revelation by instead staging a huge fight over the Nicaraguan side of the Iran-Contra scandal, which to most of the general public amounted to the allegation that Reagan’s people were going too far in fighting Communism in the Western Hemisphere. This was, of course, an issue on which the Dems had been whupped by Reagan in the past, and they were so eager to settle the score that they wound up getting a lot less mileage out of the scandal than they probably should have.
We may see a related mistake brewing in the Harriet Miers hearings – there have been rumblings that the hearings will turn into a rehash of the Ben Barnes/National Guard story, a mistake the Democrats just can’t stop making.

7 thoughts on “Trying to Hit a 5-Run Homer”

  1. This is yet another opportunity for the Democrats to stand for what they once stood for: tough, patriotic defense of the good guy. They will, of course, screw it up.
    Once upon a time, the Democrats fought fascism. Read that word again: “fought.” The Democrats opposed the Soviet Union, bailed out Greece, South Korea and Taiwan. The Democrats sought a base of urban workers, not just the union leadership that ostensibly represented those workers (though the union leaders certainly has a stake in the party). Not a special interest in sight. The Democratic Party was unquestionable a party that was pro-American, and willing to fight to prove it.
    Valerie Plame was essentially a soldier, covertly fighting for her country. Two self-interested, hubris-filled gentlemen from inside the White House broke her cover. Her career is ruined — think about it, now that her cover is blown, how can she do her job anymore? Her life is potentially in danger. The United States has lost the services of someone trained to conduct intelligence work in wartime.
    Those are the issues I’m talking about if I’m in the minority party. Those are the issues I present — as an outraged American — to the citizens of my country as I show them that elements of the administration have harmed the war effort, and harmed the nation.
    But, as I said, the current Democrats will screw it up (as have their brethren across the aisle who’ve spent all their political capital on pork, pocket-stuffing and other nonsense, by the way. I’m not a Republican either). The Democrats are morally corrupt, they’re unwilling to fight for anything, and they are so beholden to special interest groups they are UNABLE to see what’s best for the country.
    This is a golden opportunity to knock the GOP upside the head, and knock some sense into American policy. But it won’t happen. Grandstanding? Sure. Obfuscation of the real issues? Hell yeah. Political opportunism? Does a fat man pass up a buffet? This will be a spectacle, the Times op ed will be gladhanding, the WSJ will be hand-wringing, and then it’ll be business as usual. And it makes me ill.

  2. The Democrats won’t play this one right because they’re part of the problem and the problem is a politicized CIA and State Department. Insiders at both agencies leaked against the Administration in hopes of a Democratic victory and good jobs in a Kerry-Democratic administration.
    That and covering their tails on a series of blunders. I think that will be the real story to come out of this.. a weird alliance of press and buearuacry inclined to favor the Democrats.

  3. Umm, Plame’s “cover,” such as it was, was “blown” long before this whole incident. If anyone gets into legal trouble, it will be over “obstruction of justice” problems.

  4. I tell ya, Crank, for a guy who fancies himself as an independent thinker, you sure know how to articulate the Republican side of things. I don’t know what you were doing during the Iran-Contra scandal, but your “recollection” is far from what what happened. The American public had always opposed our support for the Contras, and Reagan’s popularity suffered greatly as a result of the scandal. The Contras were terrorists and Reagan broke the law in giving them money. He also violated his alleged democratic principles in lying about the Contras daily. Why shouldn’t the Democrats focus on Nicaragua during the scandal? Reagan flouted the law, plain and simple. Frankly, the Dems went easy on Reagan during the scandal. Most of them had supported sending money to the Contras, as well. This is because there is little substantive difference between the parties on most foreign policy issues. You are not informed about Central America during the 1980’s. The Office of Public Diplomacy, run through the State Departement, was issuing propaganda about Central America in the form of op-eds and other materials. What you think you know about that conflict may in fact be the garbage spewed out the propagandists like Ollie North and his compadres.

  5. If true, that doesn’t change the salient fact that no one in the White House should be saying a damn thing to anyone about any covert op’s identity. It’s inexcusable.

  6. The stage was set for Republicans to take over Congress in 1994 – the check bouncing scandal had embarassed the entire institution and it was the last year Congressmen could retire and keep their campaign funds. Dozens chose not to seek re-election, leaving open seats and competitive races abound.
    BUT, without Newt Gingrich’s bold rhetoric and clear vision, the GOP could have easily let the opportunity pass.
    The stage is set for Democrats to take Congress back next year, but they lack the energy, vision and yes – ruthlessness of a Newt Gingrich.

  7. I think there is a lot to this story. Lots of weird things happening that makes me think the bigger picture is the right one on this…Specifically, David Kelly’s suicide (with his last email being to Judith Miller), the outing of Plame, OSP run by Cheney, WHIG, Miller’s involvement in all of it…
    Frankly, I think the thing that hurt the Democrats was the partisan hearings that effectively eliminated the effectiveness of the Walsh investigation and prosecutions on Iran Contra. The Repubs would be wise to make it into a partisan rangling…hiring Fitzgerald will turn out to be their biggest nightmare should he go global.
    But in this day and age, pardons eliminate a lot of what the special prosecutor can threaten to senior staff members…they know if they don’t play ball with the prosecutor, they will have to do some time, but they will be pardoned and not serve very long terms…I wouldn’t doubt Bush has a few planned for December 2006. That will be long enough before the 08 elections that everyone will forgive and forget…and the person running will not be a BushCo member, separating themselves from the scandal…

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