From the mailbag


not that i really read the blog at all, but how is it that you held back from blogging about the latest on rove/plame? your enthusiasm when it first happened was pretty extreme; i still remember your thinking that this was going to be a huge unraveling of the entire administration, i.e. if anything was. (and even though we’re past a second-term election, where it would ostensibly have made a world of difference, it still could mean a huge unraveling/discrediting. and why am i not hearing more about the fact that this is only coming to the fore again b/c some reporters are being threatened w/ or are serving jail time, and all b/c of a “senior administration official” or two?? and how the hell is robert novak evading all this heat?)

please help a concerned non-reader to understand.

*Sigh* The sad thing is that the email comes from one of the naughty, naughty co-conspirators listed on the sidebar. Not that he actually reads the blog. Sheesh.

So what’s up with me and Plame/Wilson? Well, of course Plame/Wilson isn’t the only thing that I’m hardly blogging about these days. These days I’m hardly blogging about everything! The election really sort of took something out of me, and I know I should get over it, and I’m really glad that other people have gotten over it, but . . . I’m still bitter. Other reasons for blogging less, in general: During the Great Blogging Wars of 03-04, I really did have my say on a lot of things, and I repeated myself quite a bit too. I got tired of repeating myself. Another reason: Blogging was taking up too much time. And another, related to that: During the Great Blogging Wars I was actually astonishingly well-informed about current events. For a moron, I mean. But at least when I casually mentioned that such and such a story wasn’t getting much play, it was because I had read most of the English language reporting on the story, and drawn that conclusion from my reading. (It helped that I taught a class on the Iraq War during the Spring of 2003). Now, not so much. I think I’m reasonably well-informed, but who the hell am I to be opining about the news coverage or trends in Iraq or whatever? I’m just a schmo now who tries to keep up with the news, usually unsuccessfully.

OK, so that explains why I’m not blogging much in general. As for Plame/Wilson, well, the story is fairly simple in its outlines, but fantastically complicated in its details. The short story, of course, is that Wilson disputed a key claim made by the Bush administration about the evidence for Iraq’s WMD ambitions and then shortly after that the news that Wilson’s wife, Plame, worked for the CIA in a sensitive capacity leaked from the administration. It is claimed that by burning Plame, the administration may have jeopardized sensitive sources and even lives, on – oh irony! – the CIA’s WMD beat. (I have, however, heard nothing about actual consequences of the leak beyond the damage to Plame’s career.) Much of the media coverage is focused on whether the leaker(s) in the administration knew exactly what he was doing, which would probably make the leak illegal. But of course this sort of misses the point that it’s a scummy thing to do either way, and if Bush had even a little bit of integrity he would care. My hunch is that this is an instance of casual, careless vindictiveness rather than a calculated, systematic attempt to destroy Plame’s career. The latter would be worse, but the former is worth caring about. My original prediction was: Libby, with an assist from Rove. Despite all the focus on Rove lately, I’m not quite ready to drop my pet theory, though it’s grounded on nothing more than a gut feeling.

Beyond that, the details are bewildering. And much more than usual news stories, the most important media players also happen to be participants in the drama, since the leak investigation has, as everyone knows, focused attention on some of the reporters involved in the story, with pretty serious consequences (including jailing for Judy Miller, since she won’t spill what she knows). That makes it even harder to figure out their reporting, since they’re hardly straight with a story even when they’re not involved.

What does this mean for the Bush administration? Who the fuck knows. Yeah, I used to think that the Plame/Wilson story was really bad news for the Bush administration. Perhaps it will be. But I also used to think that enough Americans cared about a disastrously waged illegal war. I used to think that the Washington press corp would surely not sit through the election on the widely gossiped news that Rove was much more involved in the Plame/Wilson mess than the White House was willing to publicly admit. I used to think that enough Americans cared about being lied to repeatedly, being made complicit in torture and war crimes, and the like. And an awful lot do care. But not enough care, and that makes me very sad, since I have really come to feel affection for this wonderful country. So I’m sort of taking a break these days from all that while I get in shape and learn to cook.