The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Maybe I'm starting to understand the whole Libby thing

I was just talking to Dad Sandwich last night and we spent a minute or two puzzling over why so many high-profile righties were obsessed with seeing Scooter Libby pardoned. An excerpt from David Brooks' latest hacktastic column has begun to cut through the fog a bit.

In retrospect, Plamegate was a farce in five acts. The first four were scabrous, disgraceful and absurd. Justice only reared its head at the end.

The drama opened, as these dark comedies are wont to do, with a strutting little peacock who went by the unimaginative name of Joe Wilson.

Mr. Wilson claimed that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to investigate Iraqi purchases in Niger, though that seems not to have been the case. He claimed his trip proved Iraq had made no such attempts, though his own report said nothing of the kind.

In short order, Wilson established himself as the charming P.T. Barnum of the National Security set, an inveterate huckster who could be counted on to wrap every actual fact in six layers of embellishment. His small part in the larger fiasco of the Iraq war would not have registered a micron of attention had the villain of the epic — the vice president — not exercised his unfailing talent for vindictive self-destruction. . .

[Bush's] decision to commute Libby's sentence but not erase his conviction was exactly right. It punishes him for his perjury, but not for the phantasmagorical political farce that grew to surround him. It takes away his career, but not his family.

Of course, the howlers howl. That is their assigned posture in this drama. They entered howling, they will leave howling and the only thing you can count on is their anger has been cynically manufactured from start to finish.

Granted, this isn't the entire column, but the point is that... it has nothing to do with Libby? These excerpts reminded me of a couple of things: being in high school and watching a self-styled 'genius' make with the five-dollar words in an attempt to face down the 'cool kids.' You know, that queasy feeling you get watching someone make an ass of him/herself. The other is the grating annoyance that comes with witnessing the Eddie Haskellish weaseliness of someone who is a complete asshole until someone else is watching-- then it's all simpering "Who, me?" playacting.

Brooks' argument seems to be this: "Libby shouldn't be punished for his crime, but given a slap on the wrist because I don't like Joe Wilson. Anyone who disagrees is obviously vicious and insane, and should be dismissed out of hand." Disingenuous, but oh-so convenient.

UPDATE: If you want to get your RDA of high dudgeon ("Guhhhh, uuuhh, me am smart like Brooks."), you can have a look at Glenn Greenwald's lengthy post on the Libby case and our more-equal-than-others justice system.