Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wagons Circling as Washington Nears Tipping Point

I hadn't meant to write about this political nonsense all week long; it just happened. I was really hoping to do a couple of pieces this week on the approaching release of Book Six of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Those of you who might have looked around this blog a little would guess that I'm a little goofy about the blonde billionaire and her boy wizard; and I mean to explain that further.

But right now, speaking of goofy, there's too much going on in the world to be distracted by anything pleasant. Well, to be truthful, what is happening might actually be pleasant—or at least hopeful. I am thinking of some remarks I found on MSNBC's website today, from David Gregory, one of the reporters who pilloried the unfortunate Scott McClellan during the recent White House Press Briefing on the Rove intrigue. Keep in mind as you read the excerpt below that this is a reporter, not an op-ed columnist:

I think, were Karl Rove to be indicted for any crime, it would be impossible for the president to keep him on. Short of that, I don’t think that he will go anywhere. I think the president will stand behind him. If you look, the president’s past comments were pretty clear: that anyone who is responsible for leaking classified information, which is a crime, would be fired. Until and unless that’s proven in this case, I don’t think that Karl Rove will go anywhere.
As to the question of whether what Karl Rove did was a smear campaign, or politically sleazy, it’s pretty clear to me that everyone in White House — from the president, to the vice president, to other officials — shared Rove’s interest in discrediting former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was critical of the administration’s case for going to war in Iraq.

I highlighted the end of that for a reason, because it basically tells us the whole history of this administration: a pattern of lies and slander against people with proven records of worthy public service and loyalty in highly confidential, responsible, and even dangerous government positions—the last folks you would expect to be liable to abuse or debasement from anyone, let alone their bosses. We are talking about a key diplomat and an intelligence agent—people trusted with the most critical secrets of the United States of America. Thus, Gregory's conclusion is chilling:

Really what this is about is the case for going into Iraq. The issue is really the debates about the war, the evidence that was used to go to war, and the claims that were made by this administration that proved to be false.

In other words, to my mind, Mr. Gregory is stating, fairly clearly and succinctly, the case for impeachment. This is a White House pool reporter, mind you (who will probably be sitting in the Helen Thomas section of the Briefing Room beginning
tomorrow)—basically saying, "the president is directly interested in smear and sleaze tactics against perceived political enemies—even if they work for State or the CIA." This is the strongest piece of journalism I've seen from inside the White House Press Corps in about five or six years. And if the mass media are beginning to turn towards asking such questions and arriving at such conclusions, what about us?

Now I have space for just a quick word on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, to be released on the stroke of midnight this Saturday. Amazon has already broken its pre-order sales record for any new release—1.4 million, so far—and the CEO of Barnes
& Noble was quoted as saying that they expect to sell 50,000 copies of this book per hour for the first day it's on sale. I know it seems strange for a grown man to be so immersed in this stuff (though I work beside several people with Master's degrees and 140+ IQ's who are just as frenzied in their Potter fan-dom as I am). But there's something deeply genuine behind that runaway popularity—this is no sputtering fad, but a connection (now in its 8th year) between an author in touch with a fathomless
well of universal energy, and a world of readers who feel and respond to that energy. So perhaps if you could read the brief Preface to my book about the metaphor of Harry Potter, you might understand it more, and perhaps even appreciate it a little.

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