Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wanker of the week:

Apparently Atrios hasn't read him yet.

"Liberal" Richard Cohen pens an op-ed stating that Lewis Libby should not go to jail. This is more confirmation that the Beltway crowd stand up for each other and against the rest of us.

His arguments and observations:
  • Fitzgerald's prosecution made "a mountain out of a molehill".
  • He did it "at the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times)".
  • Opponents of the Iraq war "thought" the investigation would show "something".
  • Opponents of the war can't think.
  • There is plenty of "antiwar sanctimony" demanding "Stalinist-era abasement" of Libby.
  • "No one has yet explained, though, how Libby can express contrition and still appeal his conviction."
  • Journalists shouldn't have to "suspend their various and sacred vows of silence" even if they are a conduit of lies from government officials.
  • A previously obscure government official will go to prison for 30 months. (Apparently such an official shouldn't have to.)
  • The underlying crime is absent.
  • The sentence is excessive.
  • The investigation should not have been conducted in the first place.
  • Libby's sentence should be commuted.
Let's get the first big talking point out of the way. Fitzgerald was tasked with investigating, not only the leak to Novak, but all leaks about Plame to journalists. The fact that Richard Armitage was the source for Novak did not mean that therefore, no one else in the White House was peddling dirt on a critic of the administration.

Cohen's second point is that an unthinking bunch of war critics, along with the "liberal press", are stupid and misguided in thinking the investigation and prosecution was a good thing. There never should have been an investigation! (Even though the CIA called for one.) Cohen's essay drips with disdain for liberals. And disdain for old-line national security types who care when covert anti-proliferation agents are exposed.

The third point is that "No one has yet explained, though, how Libby can express contrition and still appeal his conviction." Here's how. An appeal can leave unchallenged the fact that Libby lied, for which he could express contrition right now. Writes John Dean: (emp add)
On June 14, the Washington Post nicely summed up the issues Libby believes he will win on appeal: "whether Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald had the constitutional authority to prosecute Libby; whether Walton was correct in prohibiting an expert on human memory from testifying for the defense; whether the defense should have been allowed to introduce more detailed evidence of the classified national security matters weighing on Libby's mind at the time of his conversations about Plame; and whether the defense should have been permitted to call Andrea Mitchell, NBC News's chief foreign affairs correspondent, as a witness in an attempt to discredit testimony from a colleague, Tim Russert, the host of NBC's 'Meet the Press.' Russert was a critical prosecution witness."
Only the challenge to Russert's testimony could be considered as part of a defense that Libby did not lie. In any event, what critics are calling for Libby to express contrition? We're not fools. We know Libby lied and don't care much how he feels about it. The concern is with justice, truth, and yes, even national security.

The fourth point is straight from the Lewis Libby Love Letters crowd. Poor Libby, a mere "obscure government official" (so how dangerous could he have ever been?) was given an excessive sentence. You see, "white-collar types tend to have a morbid fear of jail", and so Bush should commute the sentence.

David Broder and Richard Cohen see eye-to-eye on the Libby trial. Either in their own minds, or for polemical purposes, they break down a situation, in this case: Libby lying to impede an investigation into leaks that were used to discredit a critic of Bush's false claims about Iraq. They then look at each of them in isolation in order to dismiss them. (Armitage told Novak, war critics were using the trial to stop the war, Joe Wilson is a showboat, etc.) It's a classic technique of argumentation. But you have to be gullible to buy it.

This is one of the worst essays Richard Cohen has ever written. It's in jump-the-shark territory.

NOTE: It's still early in the day, but the comments thread for Cohen's essay is huge. Many, many outraged readers.

UPDATE: Atrios has noticed. Cohen is Wanker of the Day, although the post linked to is rather short. There will no doubt be a substantial reaction from the netroots throughout the day.

Sure enough, Greenwald is on the case (and Atrios has added that link to the Wanker post).

UPDATE2: Cohen's essay is boffo reading over at the National Review's corner ("an impassioned argument for sparing Libby ... coming from a lib").

UPDATE3: Bloggers to read: Kos, Talk Left, All Spin Zone, Supreme Irony of Life, Who is IOZ, Sour N Sweet, TommyWonk, CommonPrejudice, Oh you think so, Booman Tribune, Consortium News.

Even Heading Right is lukewarm about Cohen's arguments!


At the risk of getting a little vomit in your mouth, you can read just how uninformed Cohen is about the trial in this follow-up internet chat:

"She was not covert" had been debunked totally and finally during the trial. What an ass.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/20/2007 12:38 PM  

Yes, I saw that and was amazed he was taking that line (Plame had'nt been overseas, etc.).

By Blogger Quiddity, at 6/21/2007 2:15 PM  

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