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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Little Soft Shoe to Start?

And so it begins. The pushback at Patrick Fitzgerald has already started, before charges have even materialized for anyone involved in the Traitorgate mess. A little softshoe, testing the waters to see what works, what grabs hold and resonates, what will be a good set of repeated catch-phrases and talking points for the Rush crowd and dittoheads.

It started with a little testing of the waters by Victoria Toensing, Mary Matalin and hack-columnist Richard Cohen last week, a little hint here, a little dig there.

"He's lost his mind," Toensing tossed out on Hardball.

"He should go back to Chicago and not bother with petty criminal charges like lying to investigators or lying under oath," Cohen said in last week's wanker op-ed tour de force. (And yes, I'm paraphrasing on this one, but I'm not going back and re-reading that thing again to get an exact quote.)

And now, this post pops up on Bullmoose. You know it's right -- we've seen the early warning attempts at brushing Fitz back from the plate.
All of the pack that relentlessly pursued Clinton will kvetch about the "criminalization of politics." They will see no irony or hypocrisy in their complaint because this is a fight about preserving power not maintaining consistency. The conservative standard is clear - when a Democratic President is the target it is about the "rule of law" and when the "victim" is a Republican it is about the "criminalization of politics." It is particularly rich that Tom DeLay, the relentless pursuer of Clinton, is making this claim. One wonders whether he agonized over this injustice with Casino Jack Abramoff and Righteous Ralph Reed as they jetted over the Atlantic on the way to their golfing outing in Scotland.
What is more sad though: that the attack dogs will not attack the charges based on their merit or the facts involved, (perhaps because they can't do so, but hey, what's a little honesty between politicians?) or that the first reaction is always, always to go after the prosecutor personally. That the response appears to be to take a page from the Tom Delay playbook, and try to muddy the waters of public opinion regardless of the level of guilt, isn't exactly shocking, now is it?

It isn't surprising, after all, that this would be the means used by Karl Rove and his buddies. We saw this very sort of smear in South Carolina in 2000, after all, when John McCain trounced W in New Hampshire's primary and Rove's political ass was pressed against the wall.

His response was not to fight it out on the merits, on the ideas, on the things that actually make a difference to the American people and their day to day lives. No, his response was to wallow in the gutter -- to begin a whisper campaign that McCain had fathered an illegitimate mixed-race child, when, in fact, McCain and his wife had adopted a Bangladeshi orphan.

What sort of person tries to smear a man with his act of decency? Ask Rove. It's been his MO since he cut his teeth in politics, because for Rove the winning is the important thing, not the governing, not the responsibility to the members of the public, not the truth that he casually tosses aside if it is inconvenient. Who cares about ethics when your goal is maintaining power above all else?

But in Patrick Fitzgerald, this group of asshats has met their match. Fitz is a rugby player -- and you don't spend time in and out of a scrum without learning how to get good and bloody and keep advancing the ball anyway. And Fitz has been all about ethics -- it is the law, the principle, and the punishment -- and about punishing the liars above all else.

My money is on Fitz, no matter how fast Rove and company starts tap dancing.

(Hat tip to Kevin Drum on this one.)