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It’s Carpet-Callin’ Time

I’ve known Andy(I) for a long, long time and so I believe he’ll forgive me when I say: Bud, you’ve done run right off the intellectual tracks. The Miers withdrawal – a timed, planned diversion from potential indictments in the Affaire de Plame? Dude, I scored two points from pure Machiavelli himself on that stupid quiz they made us take junior year of high school and even I couldn’t conceive of a situation under which such a “Wag the Dog” scenario could in any way, shape or form be viable.

Firstly, on the Plame matter: there is no, I repeat, novery little evidence that a crime was even comitted in her identity being released to the press. The crimes committed were lies, told by Libby to the FBI and the grand jury which were motivated not by a desire to avoid any criminal responsibilities, but rather to avoid uncomfortable political implications regarding his boss. It looks as if Cheney and Libby, in the process of discussing Joe Wilson’s lie-filled New York Times editorial, talked about the fact that Wilson was sent to Niger at the behest of his wife, a CIA operative at the Agency’s WMD desk. Since both Libby and Cheney are cleared to talk about classified information, this conversation was well within their purview, regardless of whether Plame’s employment status was classified (a position both Fitzgerald and the CIA seem to be trying to take, although we’ll have to see if the evidence for such ever shows up if and when Libby actually goes to trial). The White House has likely known of Libby’s legal jeopardy for a long time and has been cooperating fully with Fitzgerald’s investigation.

Secondly, on the Miers nomination: I wholeheartedly believe that Bush made what he thought was a very clever, very slick selection in Miers. Problem was, he was too clever by half. It’s my belief that Bush was fed some bad information by Senate Republicans, possibly Bill Frist, but most likely Arlen Specter, claiming that Senate GOPers were unwilling to go to the mattresses for Bush’s next pick. Bush then faced a connundrum entirely of his own construction: how could he possibly live up to his campaign promise of nominating judges “in the vein of Thomas and Scalia” while avoiding a fight in the Senate he (and his staff, I’m guessing) thought he’d lose? In his mind, Harriet Miers was the ultimate solution to this problem: he’d known her for years and she fit his definition of a judicial conservative, yet she lacked a compelling paper trail for the Democrats to criticize. He could make assuring noises to his base and get Miers onto the bench with little fuss or muss. Unfortunately, he severely misread his base on this issue.

George Bush is, at heart, an MBA through-and-through. He’s results-oriented, he cares about the end results and, most times, waves his hands at the details, preferring to delegate the actual implementation of his visions to trusted officials. His pick of Miers was a very results-oriented pick: a woman, a conservative, little-to-no chance of a fight in the Senate. What he failed to realize was that the legal conservative (as opposed to social conservative) portion of his base is very much a process-oriented constituency. They are more than willing to have a judge with a consistent judicial philosophy issue a few rulings they manifestly disagree with than to have a judge whose philosophy is shrouded issue highly favorable rulings on a few key cases. That way lies O’Connorite incoherence.

For most of his presidency, Bush has had process-oriented advisors on hand to help him out – Condi Rice readily springs to mind, as does Karl Rove. However, in the case of Miers, Bush stripped himself of that advice. He nominated the person responsible for vetting his SCoTUS picks and, in doing so, cut his own lifeline to political realities. With Karl Rove distracted by the ongoing investigations, I think Bush lacked a strong “nay” against his pick and thus plowed ahead, assured of his own flawed reading of his base.

I do not credit George Bush with nearly as much guile and talent for subterfuge as his detractors do. His presidency has largely been marked by him saying what he intends on doing and then, inasmuch as he is able, doing so. For some reason, this mystifies his critics, including Andy.

In short: a Supreme Court nomination is a very, very big stage to be playing any sort of political chicken on, particularly when the career that’s on the line is one of a career bureaucrat whose invocation causes most Americans to say “Scooter who?”. Here on planet Earth, those are mighty long odds to be playing for very little gain.

=======

Much more commentary on Scooter Libby chronicled here and here by Jeff Goldstein.

UPDATE: Also, see Rob Port for why there’d be no indictments at all had Libby told the Feebs the truth in the first place.

Published in Friends Observations Politics

19 Comments

  1. 1)If I took to heart everytime someone called me an idiot, I wouldn’t be alive today. Likewise, I think pride gets in the way too much in dealing with realities of life, and causes much more harm then just accepting your predicament and moving forward.

    2) I never said that I thought there was a conspiracy at work – I was just saying it is just oh so coincidental. I do think they are slick enough to be able to try something like this. Let’s face it, the Bushies are in trouble. They have delegated for far to long. They are following the “Sunk Cost Fallacy” hook, line, and sinker on Iraq, and the public is angry. They got caught with Katrina (on many different levels), and the public is angry. The problem is that the Bushies are better campaigners then they are governers. It’s easy to say change is needed in Washington when you are advocating that YOU are the change that is needed. They promised that they would do the pointing, and someone else would get it done. For far too long, the Bushies have been allowed to coast on the work of their blockers and tacklers, but all those guys are injured. We need doers now. With all the self-inflicted wounds right now, it is really hard to transition. And it has become clear that the bushies aren’t very good at dealing with “hard”…

    For the record, I do not think Jr. is good at anything other then connecting with people. That in and of itself is not a bad thing to be good at. However, lacking many other abilities (which he does), he is easily manipulated by his handlers, and some of his handlers are downright evil. That is what scares me, and I wouldn’t put anything past them. Cronyism may be just the tip of the iceberg.

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    And I’m not even a bleeding heart liberal…

  2. 1) I’m not calling you an idiot, far from it. I’m saying you’re too intelligent to even give a second thought to such tinfoil hattery.

    2) That’s an absolute dodge. Own up to your words. If I said “Well, I don’t actually think that Michael Moore eats Republican babies, but, you know, I wouldn’t put it past him,” you’d call me on the carpet, and rightfully so. The very fact that you’re thinking about it enough to create an entire post on the subject shows that you do consider it at least somewhat likely.

    As to “Sunk Cost Theory”, please explain to me what exactly is going wrong in Iraq, moreso than has gone “wrong” in any other conflict in history? Perhaps you’ve spent too much time watching Doom-n-Gloom-CNN or reading the Post/Times/Globe/etc. failure cheerleaders. Have you ever read Good News From the Front? If not, you’re speaking from a position of ignorance.

    Who, precisely, is “evil” in the current administration? Why do you think that is the case? What actions of theirs are “evil”? That’s a mighty big word to just be tossing around at your political opponents. Kinda loses its punch after being overused, too, dontcha think? I mean, I think that Howard Dean/Harry Reid/Chuck Schumer/Hillary Clinton/etc. are misguided and clueless as to how the real world works, but I don’t think they’re evil. I believe the consequences of ceding power to their likes is extremely dangerous and should be fought at every turn, but to use words like “evil”, words normally reserved for the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, or Khomeini (you know, purveyors of actual evil) to describe them is simply lunacy and robs the word of its significance. It’s an intellectual retreat, one which those who are losing an argument return to when all other options have been exhausted.

  3. Addendum:
    That may have sounded more harsh than I meant it to. It’s so hard to properly express tone via a purely print medium, so please, Andy, read that with a bit of a light take (or, alternately, I could just write with a lighter touch…).

  4. AndyOne AndyOne

    On Point #2, I was pointing out that I wouldn’t put it past them. I was by no means claiming that they are in fact guilty and should be removed from power at once. There is a slight difference.

    Sunk Cost Fallacy: The definition is pretty much as follows: You buy pretty darn expensive tickets to an Eagles Game. The day of the game, traffic is so backed up in your area that in order to work around it, you’d get there an hour and a half late, at the earliest, with no guarrantee you’d make it at all. Now, the game is sold out, and will be on TV. So you could chance it in order to get at least something out of what you paid for, and possibly get nothing at all in return, or you could cut your losses and see the game at home. The Sunk Cost fallacy is what it means to go to the game anyway.

    As it applies to Iraq: The President and his advisors were wrong. Whether or not they deliberately LIED is up for debate, and possibly investigation. The occupation has been a disaster. Again, whether a crime took place in any of the planning or assumptions that were made is not the issue. The issue as that the administration is invoking the souls of the lost as reasons to continue forward. There are many good reasons why we can’t pull the troops now, but that one is not one of them. Staying the course out of respect for those who died is no respect at all, as their death was not accidental, nor unseen/unplanned for. This is not 9/11, and these are not civilians who were going about their lives. The soldiers/contractors over there are there more or less on their own free will, following orders. Re-evaluation of the scope of the task, as well as how to carry out the mission, is not failing any person who has died for that cause.

    It is my opinion that Iraq was a problem, and would have required our attention in time. Nonetheless, we should have devoted those troops to Capturing/Killing with extreme prejudice all known Al-Queda operatives, not the least of which being Mr. Bin-Ladden. Then we should have turned to Saddam and said, with smoke billowing from our guns: “What chu talkin bout, Willis…”

    With respect to the administration, there has been toom much shady dealing. Yes, all administrations have some degree opf shadyness, but this one takes the take. Cheney leading a closed-door no-notes-released energy summit w/o a single advocate for the consumer? Shady. All those no-bid crony contracts? Shady. Appointments to posts (some critical) based on good feelings as opposed to resumes? Shady. Rumsfield STILL in office? Definitely shady. I know of what I speak. There is half of my family tree missing from Hitlers wrath. Rumsfield’s incompetent planning is evil. By extension, he is evil. Cheney pounding the drums of war for unknown reasons was evil, and thus he is also evil. There are occasions where war is just. This wasn’t one of them. Sure, we can say in hindsight that our intel was at fault. But there were ideas of this all along, just like there were indeed some warning signs of 9/11. Both times, no one was listening until it was too late. Claiming ignorance to the truth is not justification for anything.

    I suppose thte difference between us non-republicans is that we knew Willie was slick, but knew he wasn’t too dangerous. You guys think all is hunky dory, and we’re just trying to pick a fight. How come not a single one of you is willing to put your money where your mouth is and close your 401k’s and stock accounts, cancel your health insurance, and rely on the government to take care of you? Because that wouldn’t be very Republican, would it? Because that is exactly what they current government tried to ram through, and fortunately (or not), only the medicare changes took effect. So you still have to worry about your retirement…

    My final thought: Where are the vetoes? How is it that Bush went 4 years without a single veto? That would indicate that all needs were being met, and that all were prospering. We’re not…

  5. Wow, once again you have shown that you only listen to democratically biased news. Force yourself to read both ends of the spectrum or you’ll start believing the obvious propaganda.

    As for Willie not being too dangerous. Ask my dad why he can’t retire. My father will work until he dies because of the Clinton Socialist movement. Or ask my wife, who will probably make less than you with ten years schooling post college and the title “Physician.”

    On a side note, please don’t assume what my point of view is in an argument. We’re friends. We’re not trying to politicize. We’re explaining our oppinions and our grounds for them.

    As for calling people evil. Democrats began using this word in regards to Republicans during the last couple of elections. A differing view on how to run our country does not constitute such a slander. I will say that W has made some incredibly suspect decisions as of late. These shady deals do lend to the feeling that our President is whoring out our country for his personal gain. That is despicable. If someone can explain to me how he is/is not doing this. I would greatly appreciate it.

  6. I believe history can shed some light on your claim that Slick Willie is the start of the downfall. How long was he in charge with both houses of congress under his wing? Being that he had 2 years of such magnificient power, he must have done a whole lot of damage before the Republicans rose up again in 94. Unless you are stipulating that they let him do whatever he wanted.

    The biggest single threat to all of our futures is from within. We are broke. Soon (and I can’t even fathom on commenting on when – I just have no friggin clue how we can owe 6 trillion to someone and still not get roughed up), our credit will no longer be good enough to get by. And then what?

    As to people getting screwed, it happens. The effects can sometimes only be mitigated, not prevented entirely, by the choices made. I didn’t go into Engineering for the money – I did it for the challenge. I could have done very well in business, but the costs to my well being and my future would not even come close to balancing out the professional boost. Your wife, I presume, followed medicine because that was the calling. That’s not to say she couldn’t prosper, but you are correct in that the near term situation is not good due to current insurance and litigation worries. To be fair, those worries were around when she started the path. They have just gotten worse in recent years. The same could be said of going into Aerospace in, say, 1989. Or majoring in Latin, pretty much anytime after 1900.

    Of Course, this is not personal, and I am not going to take my ball and go home. Mr. Funk, we have only begun to banter. Zamoose and I are pro’s at this game – Who can finally stump the other. It’s fair to say that part of our persona’s live for the moment when someone realizes they are trapped in an arguement they can no longer win. Heck, he (and others) would could argue that it more then just part of who I am, and will try to convince you that I purposely dig myself into a hole just for fun.
    I’d like to say that we’re probably 50/50 on catching each other right now, but he might disgree… ;-)

  7. […] Zamoose started a thread on his blog involving some of my statements, so here’s the link to the conversation.  No need to copy over here. […]

  8. With all due respect, Andy, you’re still dodging my questions.

    I’m perfectly aware of the notion of “sunk costs”, however, I do not cede your point in re: the Iraq conflict. Have you been watching a different media than I? The Bush Administration is not making the case that “Well, we’ve already invested so many lives in Iraq, so we might as well see it through.” The Iraq conflict is a necessary one to change the face of the Middle East and, had it not been pursued in 2003, the costs would have simply grown the longer we (the West) put it off.

    I really do want to know where you get your information from, though. What are your primary sources? By what metric do you make the claim that Iraq is a “disaster”? Free elections in Iraq for the first time in 25 years ever consititute a “disaster”? People able to speak their minds with no fear of a repressive government knocking down their doors is a “disaster”? Self-determination is a “disaster”? Breaking the iron-fisted long-held Sunni minority grip on power is a “disaster”? What is your metric?

    Are you obsessing over body count, as the mainstream media seems intent on doing? 2,000 casualties may sound like a lot, but have you any idea just how low that number is, historically speaking? Was Iwo Jima a “disaster”? 22,000 casualties, 7,000 dead, and that was in one battle. How about the Battle of the Bulge? Somewhere between 70,000 and 140,000 Allied casualties over the course of a little over a month and yet, it was the final crushing blow to the Third Reich’s ability to project military force.

    As to “LIES”, I can only assume that you’re referring to that serial liar, Joe Wilson? From that last linked article:

    As I say, seemingly exhaustive. But there is one curious omission: July 7, 2004. On that date, the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a 511-page report on the intelligence that served as the foundation for the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq. The Senate report includes a 48-page section on Wilson that demonstrates, in painstaking detail, that virtually everything Joseph Wilson said publicly about his trip, from its origins to his conclusions, was false.

    This is not a minor detail. The Senate report, which served as the source for much of the chronology in this article, is the definitive study of the events leading up to the compromising of Valerie Plame. The committee staff, both Democrats and Republicans, read all of the intelligence. They saw all of the documents. They interviewed all of the characters. And every member of the committee from both parties signed the report.

    It is certainly the case that the media narrative is much more sensational than the Senate report. A story about malfeasance is perhaps more interesting than a story about incompetence. A story about deliberate White House deception is perhaps more interesting than a story about bureaucratic miscommunication. A story about retaliation is perhaps more interesting than a story about clarification.

    But sometimes the boring stories have an additional virtue. They’re true.

    [emphases mine]

    Surely you can’t be referring to the “16 words” canard, can you? The one that has been thoroughly debunked? Were French, UK and Israeli intelligence services all “lying” to the American public, too? Was the UN Security Council “lying” by passing resolution after resolution calling Hussein to account? Was President Clinton “lying” when he said the following on December 16, 1998:

    Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

    Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

    Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

    Was Clinton’s administration “lying” when it made regime change in Iraq the official policy of the United States? Were all those Democratic Senators that voted to support Clinton in ’98 “lying” when they did so?

    As to your other assertions: please provide evidentiary links to back up your “crony” “no-bid” charges. Are you referring to the LOGCAP process by which Halliburton was awarded contracts under both the Clinton and Bush administrations? Was it a “cronyistic” practice when the Clinton Defense Dept. awarded Halliburton logistics contracts for Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans?

    My big beef with your arguments thus far is that you have made bold assertions and then tried to claim them as fact. Allow me to demonstrate:

    With respect to the administration, there has been toom[sic] much shady dealing. Yes, all administrations have some degree opf[sic] shadyness, but this one takes the take[sic].

    Attributions for your assertions? Evidence?

    Cheney leading a closed-door no-notes-released energy summit w/o a single advocate for the consumer? Shady. All those no-bid crony contracts? Shady.

    I’ve dealt with the the “no-bid” smear above.

    Appointments to posts (some critical) based on good feelings as opposed to resumes? Shady.

    Which posts are you referring to? Was Clinton “shady” when he promised a “cabinet that look[ed] like America”?

    Rumsfield STILL in office? Definitely shady.

    Why? He has successfully overseen the prosecution of two successful military campaigns and the removal of two horrendous regimes. Why would you punish success?

    I know of what I speak. There is half of my family tree missing from Hitlers wrath.

    Not to be too much of a nudge here, but that line of reasoning is particularly low and unfair. Appeals to authority are a cheap debate tactic and yours, while true, is a twice-removed Godwin invocation. Am I any less of an authority on “evil” because I didn’t have relatives die under the Third Reich’s hideous death industry? Am I suddenly a greater authority on Asian evil because several of my grandfather’s good friends were killed or tortured by the Japanese on Bataan? I understand your sentiment, but sentiments make for very poor bases for arguments.

    Rumsfield’s incompetent planning is evil. By extension, he is evil. Cheney pounding the drums of war for unknown reasons was evil, and thus he is also evil.

    These statements border on tautologies. Was Clinton “evil” for denying US forces in Somalia proper armor and pulling out at the first whiff of American casualties? Was he “evil” for passing up multiple chances to nab bin Laden in Sudan, at the behest of the Sudanese government?

    There are occasions where war is just. This wasn’t one of them.

    Here you and I categorically disagree. I’m sure that 25 million Iraqis have opinions of their own.

    Sure, we can say in hindsight that our intel was at fault. But there were ideas of this all along, just like there were indeed some warning signs of 9/11. Both times, no one was listening until it was too late. Claiming ignorance to the truth is not justification for anything.

    In addition to the European, UN and Israeli intelligence services, were the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, US News, and Newsweek also guilty of misleading the US public on the subject of Iraq’s WMD state of readiness?

    Let’s move on to your Domestic Divertimento to finish it all off:

    I suppose thte difference between us non-republicans is that we knew Willie was slick, but knew he wasn’t too dangerous. You guys think all is hunky dory, and we’re just trying to pick a fight. How come not a single one of you is willing to put your money where your mouth is and close your 401k’s and stock accounts, cancel your health insurance, and rely on the government to take care of you? [What in the bloody blue blazes are you talking about? -ed.] Because that wouldn’t be very Republican, would it? Because that is exactly what they current government tried to ram through, and fortunately (or not), only the medicare changes took effect. So you still have to worry about your retirement…

    Where to start? I’m not making the claim that all is hunky-dory, nor are my intellectual compatriots. We’re claiming that the investments, the losses, the struggles are worth it. That’s not the Pollyannaism that you’re ascribing to us, it’s a cost-benefit analysis.

    As to the nannystatism that you mysteriously ascribe to Republicans, I’m a bit taken aback. Last I checked, it was the Democrats advocating nationalized healthcare and it’s the Democrats asking US citizens to depend on the gov’t for their retirement. Please link to attributions for your bizarre assertions.

    The only point of agreement that we come out of this with is the dearth of vetoes, although I think you and I disagree as to the exact nature of this deficit. Bush is, unfortunately, a big government “conservative”. Every time you see/hear him say “compassionate conservative” think: “big gov’t ‘conservative'”. He should have vetoed McCain-Feingold, the hideously bloated transportation bill and the pork-laden energy bill. So there you have it.

  9. Andy, I think you may have just brought a knife to a gun fight. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to get back to looking up the political jargon Zamoose has used in his arguments.

    A la Star Trek:
    [Darnit] Doug, I’m an Engineer not some sort of wordsmith.

  10. I responded to Doug, before lunch, but it didn’t post! Now I have to get back in the mindset and create anew…

  11. And lo, my first problem with SpamKarma2. *grin*

    Apologies, Andy. If you registered for an account, I could make sure that all of your comments go through automatically.

  12. TESTING. This is only a test………

  13. Blech. I registered. Happy now?

  14. Hey, it’s not my fault SpamKarma thinks your ISP is a spamhost… *grin*

    Now what were we talking about?

  15. Agent Orange Agent Orange

    Oh Lord, this brings back memories. Hey Funk, you thought I had political views? This is where it all comes from. Now sit back and watch the debate! Of course this was much more fun in person and I never could debate against either one of these guys so I just listened to the opinions and learned. Yes the vocabulary is gobbledygook to me as well but it makes for good feather ruffling for the boys from Lehigh. Man, if only I hadn’t spent my evenings playing street hockey while on a Lehigh wait list, I could have joined them and learned all the multi-syllabic words used on this forum. Oh well I will enjoy my redneck habitat and meager vocabulary and continue to watch from afar before finally making it up North to enjoy actual conversation. Have that Scotch ready boys! :-P

  16. Heh. He said multi-syllabic and meant it…

    I wanted to drop a line saying things have just gotten berry berry busy (BBB), and I may not get a chance to fully participate in for a while. So. Either stay tuned, or declare the thread dead and we will move on. I gots plenty other stuff that makes me angry…

  17. Oh, and for the record…

    …93 million miles.

  18. I definitely want to read your responses.

    Also, what’s the distance to the Sun have to do with the price of tea in China?

  19. It’s wafer thin…

Comments are closed.