Bush Is the New Clinton

Nanny Nanny Boo BooWe look at the eagerly vicious coverage of yesterday's WH briefing and one thing comes to mind about the press corps: You've been watching "All the President's Men Again," haven't you? (Terry Moran was heard to be murmuring about Bob Novak’s tit being in a wringer but we haven’t confirmed that.) Between the lines of all the accounts of "stonewalling" is a simple yearning to bring down an administration, and for the $5 million book contract that's sure to follow.

We wish them luck with that. But will the Plame thing do it? Sure, it seems cut and dried: The NYT states plainly, for example, that the WH promised "any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired." Rove was surely "involved" in the name getting out, even if Matt Cooper’s email suggests Karl didn’t leak the actual name. Ergo, if Bush doesn't fire Rove, then he's a big liar, everyone's disgraced, his approval rating plummets even further, mass resignations, even the copy boys get laid, Hillary in '08, etc.

Our doubts about this scenario after the jump.

Don't dust off that Pulitzer acceptance speech yet. One thing we've learned from this headache-inducing fiasco is that we're all Clintons now. Rove's lawyer cages about whether Rove did anything "knowingly;" Cooper glides over the definition of "personal communication;" Bush, for the most part, made promises about firing anyone who broke the law but only "finding" the leaker. He didn't get to be President by forgetting his talking points, people. Bush did stray once, on June 10 of last year:

Q. Given recent developments in the C.I.A. leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, suggestion that it might difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name? And ...

A. That's up …

Q. And do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so? And …

A. Yes.

It's the one instance we can find in which the President himself (can we stop taking Scotty seriously, please?) doesn't specify "breaking the law" as a condition for firing. Will the administration be so bold as to split the hair between naming Plame and "identifying" her as an excuse to not send Rove packing? More important: Will they get away with it?

You think so? We've got some non-existent weapons of mass destruction to sell you.

At White House, a Day of Silence on Rove's Role in C.I.A. Leak [NYT]

Past White House Briefings on C.I.A. Leak Case [NYT]


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