Politics Archives

A Moderate Leak

Looks like the Plame game may have gotten started by a little innocent chit-chat by a moderate in the Bush administration, not someone with an axe to grind.

[Richard] Armitage’s central role as the primary source on Plame is detailed for the first time in “Hubris,” which recounts the leak case and the inside battles at the CIA and White House in the run-up to the war. The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.

Indeed, Armitage was a member of the administration’s small moderate wing. Along with his boss and good friend, Powell, he had deep misgivings about President George W. Bush’s march to war. A barrel-chested Vietnam vet who had volunteered for combat, Armitage at times expressed disdain for Dick Cheney and other administration war hawks who had never served in the military.

Betcha’ no one’s going to ask for Armitage to be “frog marched” out of the White House. That’s because this whole issue has been nothing but a hope for a full-blown scandal. But the fireworks never went off because there was no powder in them.

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Actions v Words

While they may talk big about wanting a time table to get troops out of Iraq, Democratic politicians are campaigning in the opposite direction.

Most Democratic candidates in competitive congressional races are opposed to setting a timetable for pulling US troops out of Iraq, rejecting pressure from liberal activists to demand a quick end to the three-year-old military conflict.

Of the 59 [tag]Democrats[/tags] in hotly contested House and Senate races, a majority agree with the Bush administration that it would be unwise to set a specific schedule for troop withdrawal, and only a few are calling for substantial troop reductions to begin this year, according to a Washington Post survey of the campaigns.

The large number of Democrats opposed to a strict timeline for ending the military operations runs contrary to the assertion by President Bush and top Republicans that Democrats want to “cut and run” amid mounting casualties and signs of civil war. At the same time, the decision by many Democrats to refrain from advocating a specific plan for withdrawal complicates their leaders’ efforts to convince voters that they offer a new direction for the increasingly unpopular war.

The assertion by Republicans that Democrats want to “cut and run” is consistent with the rhetoric the Dems have been laying out. They elevated John Murtha to media darling. They agreed with timetables in press conferences. So Bush’s assertion fits the Democrats’ public pronouncements.

What it doesn’t agree with is how the Democrats act, regarding their voting almost unanimously against the Hunter Amendment which was a virtual copy of the Murtha plan, and regarding how they’re now campaigning. When this group says one thing and does another, it’s inevitable that any criticism will wind up missing the mark with either the words or the actions. But that’s not Bush’s fault. The fault lies with the Democrats, who are pandering to both sides of the issue. They’re not sitting on the fence, they’re trying to stand firmly on both sides.

However, as their actions show, they realize that, generally, the American public does not want to leave Iraq until the job’s done. So, to appease both the public and the increasingly powerful left-wing groups within the party, they’re talking out of both sides of their collective mouths. You can’t trust the words.

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