Sunday, April 09, 2006

Somebody's ass in my briefcase


There are a couple of wonderful lines I remember from a largely forgotten 1981 film, "Absence of Malice." I haven't seen the movie since it first came out, but as I recall Wilfred Brimley plays a U.S. Attorney cleaning up a mess of a federal investigation involving the selective leaking of information by a different government official to a reporter. (As I dimly remember it, Brimley stole the movie.) Brimley had two lines that have stuck with me, and that are totally appropriate to the current situation.

Upon being grudgingly informed that there had been a leak, Brimley says:
You had a leak? You call what's goin' on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.

And when discussing the consequences of the local shitstorm:
Now we'll talk all day if you want to. But, come sundown, there's gonna be two things true that ain't true now. One is that the United States Department of Justice is goin' to know what in the good Christ - e'scuse me, Angie - is goin' on around here. And the other's I'm gonna have somebody's ass in muh briefcase.

And there's a line I hadn't remembered that I want to remember now:
We can't have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons. It ain't legal. And worse than that, by God it ain't right.

Wilfred was the essence of the crusty but ramrod-straight prosecutor, just like you would expect Central Casting to deliver. Patrick Fitzgerald's style is rather different, but it wouldn't surprise me if Fitz saw that movie and was affected by it.

Reader esoder has been waiting with baited breath for me to weigh in on the revelation that Dubya approved the leak of parts of the NIE to Judy Miller. I'm not sure I have much to add at this point.

One interesting observation is that, although we still carp, and justifably so, about the quality of press coverage and commentary (witness today's obscene WaPo editorial), things have changed pretty significantly for the better now that Shrub's numbers have tanked. This story is getting significant play, and shills like David Brooks are being forced into ever more extreme contortions to explain away the damage. The spiral will continue. Exhibit "A" is the headline from Newsweek online: Leaker in Chief?

One reason for that is discussed by Steve Clemmons in a recent The Washington Note. He points out that part of the context of this revelation is the conviction of Larry Franklin for leaking to AIPAC. (They've gone after others as well.) The cabal's official spin away from the apparent contradiction is, predictably, that "it isn't a crime when the King does it." That may convince rubes like Bobo and Krauthammer, but the folks who inhabit the bowels of the federal government have to be pissed. They will increasingly get their digs in. As I predicted long ago,
I'd wager there are many, many people these thugs have stepped on over the last five years who are just itching to get their licks in. There are scores of scores to settle, and enough scandals, illegality and plain old fuck-ups in need of daylight to allow the victims of every last one of them a measure of payback.

A year ago, they were all too scared to speak up. But Bush's aura of omnipotence has been nullified. There are too many leaks and too much heat for the Godfather to enforce the code anymore. A positive feedback loop is now feeding on itself -- leaks beget more leaks, disloyalty embodens further disloyalty. The worse it gets, the worse it will get, and the pace will accelerate.
And as they plot Doomsday in Iran to draw our fire away from their earlier crimes, the maligned folks in the military and the intelligence community will continue to let the leaks drip, drip, drip, keeping our royal thugs on the defensive 24/7. The nearly open war between the White House on the one hand and uniformed military and the career intel folks on the other is a cause for cautious optimism: what if Bush says, "fire," and the generals refuse?

The other important thing here is that Fitz seems to be accomplishing one of his primary tactical goals, which is to drive a wedge between Scooter and his old bosses. There is a fine line there: if Bush decides to pardon Scooter, the game is over. I suspect Fitz is trying to make the White House the apocryphal frog in the pot of hot water. He's raising the temperature so gradually that maybe they will never take that extreme step, which would now bring on a shitstorm of protest. (OTOH, the bombing of Iran would be an ideal bit of covering fire to distract attention, wouldn't it?)

And finally, what I take away from Fitz's move -- Libby said it, but Fitz made it public, and chose to do so now -- is that maybe, just maybe, Fitz is playing the big game we all hope he is. The big game being the saving of our Republic. When the Libby indictment came down, I was among the many who expressed disappointment at the thin gruel he was offering. But I have gradually been won over. I no longer think he is settling for small change here. I think he's just a lot smarter and more patient than I am, and waiting for the right moment to go all in. Limiting the Libby indictment to perjury/obstruction seemed cautious or even cowardly at the time; now, as Scooter augers himself deeper and deeper into the muck, it looks like tactical brilliance.

I think I'm going to rent Wilfred's shining moment and see how it holds up today.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm here reading everyday, as I do not do on any other blog. Still, I don't get why you and your loyal band of followers think that you are/can only be witnesses. If that is true, then the outcome of all these events was settled a long time ago. YOU LOSE.

Of course, to be other than a witness is to risk a lot. A helluva lot. But what are your real choices? By only watching (and commenting) to date, Bushco has put it all on the line FOR YOU and of course the rest of the watchers/waiters. What else is left to lose?

Your bet has been placed. Wanna buy insurance, or wait for it to be called?

12:56 PM  

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