Monday, October 31, 2005

Poker with Sun Tzu

Prolific commenter "Anonymous" counters my downbeat assessment of the prospects of further inPlamation by arguing, in effect, that (a) if Scooter doesn't flip, Fitz will charge treason, and (b) Shrub wouldn't dare pardon him for that.

I hope Anonymous is right, but I am still skeptical that his (her? Anonymous is one of those nonspecific names like Pat or Chris) view is correct.

So let's take another look at this. Assume you are Fitz. Assume you believe that Very Bad Things happened, but you need Scooter to roll to really make your bones. Assume that you are a big time poker player. Now let's work through two scenarios:

1. I've got bupkus: Assume that, based on what you actually have in hand, you don't think you can make a case against anyone but Libby, and can't tag Libby for more than the perjury/obstruction charges. Remember Sun Tzu's advice: appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. So the logical bluff is to put out a bomb-proof limited indictment, and signal via the additional facts that seem to imply more shoes may drop, that you have not yet begun to fight. But if nobody buys the bluff, you're done.

2. You're all toast: Now assume that you really have the nuts of Libby and Rove and who knows who else in a vise. Your biggest danger is that the White House ends the game too soon by painting you as a partisan witch-hunter and then issuing smothering, investigation-ending pardons. How do you snooker them into letting the game go on? Sun Tzu again provides the answer: appear weak (which in Bushworld means honorable and principled). The really savvy play is to start out by indicting the designated fall guy alone, and on the counts that minimally implicate others. You can then reasonably expect that part of the White House firewall strategy will be to sing your praises for the limited nature of the indictments -- which is exactly what has happened so far. Why is that important? Because when you drop the next payload of indictments, it will be a helluva lot harder for the smear machine to double back and Swift boat you and for Bush to issue pardons.

So which is it? What makes this maddening for the rest of us is that the right way to play Fitz's hand is the same in both cases, which means we have no way to reverse engineer from the cards he is showing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Because when you drop the next payload of indictments ..."

when would this, if it ever does, occur ? libby is gonna be arraigned on thursday. i read that Fitzgerald has impaneled / enpaneled a new grand jury - what is the new gj gonna investigate ?

i think Fitzgerald is done and so is this country.

who wants a pony

12:18 AM  

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