Friday, August 26, 2005


Need A Cigarette...

Um, geez, Ken.

I've always thought of of you as a, uh, "swell" guy, but after this contribution, the next time I see you, how can I remain focused on the supple, well-rounded shape of your, um, logic? Or the heft -- and girth -- of your, um, oral argument?

Anybody got a fan?

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More On Those Tense Days in July 2003...

The Los Angeles Times provides more color and context to the Washington side of this chronology.

UPDATE: After dropping over to Balloon Juice and linking back here to the July '03 timeline, I realized that I was a bit circumspect in what all this is supposed to mean. One of John Cole's readers wondered the same thing. So, for something close to an explanation: Here is what I said in Cole's comments section:

To the extent my timeline “means” anything, it is just noting that questions about pre-war intelligence were consuming the UK and US government VIPs in mid-July ‘03.The funny thing is that a certain NYT reporter seems to be the nexus—the common link to the UK government/media/legislative inquiry on pre-war intel and the current US government/media/grand jury/Plame scandal.

The dates July 8 and 16/17 stand out.

On the former, she meets with Lewis Libby. On the latter, she e-mails David Kelly in the UK telling him a “another member of your fan club” told her that Kelly’s did well in his testimony (which, by the way, helped undercut the credibility of the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan). Kelly writes back, talks of “dark actors,” wanders off and kills himself—an action that opens up a new inquiry—into the Blair government’s behavior in Kelly’s being ‘outed’ as the BBC source and subsequently forced to testify. (For good measure, Kelly’s body is found on the 18th: the same day John Bolton is interviewed by the State Department IG on, what else? Niger uranium.)

I don’t know what all this means, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Miller’s “Zelig”/”Forrest Gump” appearance in this trans-Atlantic intel-inquiry double-header has something to do with why Patrick Fitzgerald has her behind bars.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


My Darling Clemons-time

My friend, occasional junket colleague, intellectual sparring partner -- and John Bolton's worst nightmare -- Steve Clemons is doing some fill-in work while Josh Marshallfinishes up his vacation. Earlier this month, when Steve was away, I was fortunate to do some guest-blogging over at his place.

And the blogger merry-go-round continues!!!

Oh, and Steve wastes no time in returning to his favorite topic!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


2008 (Rudy & Rice) Reality Check

Karol is so dead on about this! The whole post -- on the difference between the political sensibilites of the blogosphere and the real world -- is a must-read. But, in particular, I think she's right in her handicapping of two people high on the GOP "mention" list": Rudy Giuliani and Condi Rice.

Two points about Rudy. Not only is he on his third marriage (as Karol notes), but his second one ended in an embarrassing, public fashion. A similar situation could cause also pose a problem for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich if he also seeks the nomination.

More significantly, as one observer has said, a Republican candidate for president could possibly be pro-choice or pro-gay rights or anti-gun -- only ONE of those and finesse that issue enough to be considered for the nomination.

That candidate can't be all three -- as Giuliani is.

On Condi -- as Karol says, "Spouses matter." It is highly unlikely that an unmarried individual will get a party's nomination (the only bachelor president -- James Buchanan -- lived well before the days of modern campaigns). By "unmarried," I mean "never married." Depending on the circumstances, it is not out of the question for a not-yet-remarried widow or widower to get a fair hearing. Heck, even Dennis Kucinich understands that he needs to get
re-hitched before contemplating another presidential run!

For all of her special qualities, Condi Rice isn't going to break that "single" glass ceiling. Ken Wheaton
admirably tries to counter this argument. I agree that, were Rice the candidate, she would attract a greater portion of the black vote than any Republican since Nixon in '60 (33 percent) -- though hardly a majority.

I will just address Ken's interpretation and response to one stated major obstacle to a Rice candidacy:
Because Condi doesn't have a family, she may be a big old lesbo or made out
to be one. Americans won't vote for a lesbo.
Look, the mainstream press isn't going to make Condi out to be a Lesbo. ...That's not a reason not to support Condi, it's an excuse, crafted in advance, on why we shouldn't even think of letting her run.
Yes, Rice's unmarried status could fuel whisper campaigns about her sexuality. No, that's not necessarily fair. No, the mainstream press won't go there. But, so what? The time is long past when the mainstream press had a monopoly on the spreadin of various memes and narratives -- regardless of accuracy or tastefulness.

But Karol's main point holds. Given our broad and diverse nation -- and the number of single-parent families, divorced households, second-families, etc. -- it is significant that in the country's 229-year existence, it has only elected one unmarried chief executive. Americans don't always vote on linear, logical lines over policy "issues" -- as much as we geeks would wish they did. They vote as much for the concept of the "First Family" as they do for the Commander In Chief. Ironically, the Clinton experience may -- I stress, may -- open up more minds to a single person, because seeing that dysfunctionality can even hit the White House may make Americans more comfortable with the fact that a "family" doesn't have to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But that is an extremely unlikely proposition. And, it certainly fair to allow such subjective facts to influence one's decision to support one candidate over another. You don't think a fair number of people supported Dubya in 2000 because they liked the fact that he was part of the Bush family and the sense of stability and sturdiness that that conveyed?

America has also never elected a woman or a black person. Does Ken really think that the time is right for ALL THREE of those precedents to be shattered in one election -- completely apart from the actual issues that might be on the table?

Sorry. I like Condoleezza Rice, respect and admire her. But I don't see it happening.

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Pot, Meet Kettle...

The Pat Robertson fiasco wouldn't be complete without a contribution from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who demanded that the FCC fine Robertson for the Chavez remarks said on the "700 Club."

Previously, Jackson added this little
gem to the the pile-on-Pat-parade:

“Calling for the assassination of world leaders is inciteful and wildly provocative. It is just the latest of Robertson’s outrageous and intemperate declarations."

Rev. Jackson has a point: How dare a camera-hogging clergyman/failed 1988 presidential candidate compose his own "inciteful and wildly provocative" foreign policy, spout a series of "outrageous and intemperate declarations" -- and embarrass the duly-elected administration?

Where in the world would he get such an idea?

Would sending both reverends to Cuba to hash out Carribbean basin policy be a violation of the embargo?

I mean -- assuming that they have to stay there?

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700 Chump

It would be nice to just dismiss Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez as the ravings of a past-his-time political figure (sorta like this guy). Unfortunately, his words have real-world implications. They are damaging, not just because liberals can gleefully play "gotcha" with the wreckless comments of a religious political conservative.

They are damaging because, they play perfectly into Chavez's
hand. Now, I am most decidedly not a fan of the man. He's a thug and Castro wannabe.

However, when you speak to members of the nascent, struggling, opposition, they will tell you that Chavez's favorite trick to prop up his support is by playing on the paranoid fear that America is planning an invasion. To the extent that Robertson is still perceived as a "player" in U.S. politics, these headlines are a gift to Chavez's PR plans. Not surprisingly, on Tuesday, Venezuela used the
opportunity to place Chavez in the role of potential victim: "We are concerned about the safety of the president," said Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S.

Ironically, while Robertson succeeded in bringing some domestic news attention to Venezuela, considering the weak nature of Chavez's political opposition, ultimately in providing "aid and comfort" to the regime he identifies as a "terrific danger" to America.

UPDATE I: Matthew Yglesias comes to a similar conclusion -- though with another implication that I hadn't considered: Robertson's assessment of the Iraq policy.

UPDATE II: After a mild backtrack in the middle of the day, Robertson made a full apology. Sadly, Chavez will be dining off this for weeks.

UPDATE III (6:30 PM): Your humble blogger also apologizes. In the original post, I attributed certain comments denouncing Robertson to Rep. Charlie Rangel. In fact, those comments were made by Chavez's vice-president Vice-President José Vicente Rangel. The reference has been removed and I apologize for my hasty and sloppy reading.

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Monday, August 22, 2005


Two Tense Weeks in July 2003

On Both Sides of the Atlantic:

July 6: The New York Times publishes Joseph Wilson
essay on administration claims concerning Iraq’s pursuit of yellowcake uranium in Niger.

July 7: Classified State Department memo, identifying Plame as CIA agent, is delivered to Secretary of State Colin Powell for presidential trip to Africa. There are conflicting reports as to whom on the six-day trip may have had access to the memo.

July 8: Times journalist Judith Miller reportedly meets with I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to
testimony heard by grand jury examining “outing” of Wilson’s CIA wife Valerie Plame.

July 9:
David Christopher Kelly, Minister of Defence official and member of the UN’s Iraq WMD inspection team, is identified as likely source of BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan’s story that Blair government “sexed-up” pre-war intelligence dossier.

July 9: Columnist Robert Novak talks with Karl Rove about Wilson.

July 11: CIA Director George Tenet releases a
statement that “16 words” concerning yellowcake uranium shouldn’t have been in president’s State of the Union address outlining WMD case against Iraq, doesn’t reference Joseph Wilson by name (only as “former official” with “ties to the region”) but also downplays significance of information Wilson brought back.

July 11: White House adviser Karl Rove speaks with Time reporter Matt Cooper; Wilson and his wife are part of the conversation.

July 13: UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
defends British intelligence Iraq-Niger claims.

July 14: Robert Novak runs now-infamous
column on Joseph Wilson.

July 15: Kelly testifies before House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee investigating BBC report.

July 16: Kelly testifies before HOC’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

July 16: NYT's Judith Miller sends e-mail to David Kelly: “David, I heard from another member of your fan club that things went well for you today. Hope it's true, J.”*

July 16: The Nation’s David Corn first raises the possibility that Plame outing is federal offense.

July 17: Kelly responds to Miller's
e-mail: "Judy, I will wait until the end of the week before judging—many dark actors playing games. Thanks for your support. I appreciate your friendship at this time. Best, David."

July 17: Time article, “A War on Wilson?” written by Matthew Cooper and others, is posted on its website.

July 18: John Bolton testifies before "State Department's inspector general about Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger." (Bolton neglected to include the inspectory general's inquiry when filling out his Senate Foreign Relations Committe questionnaire in March of this year. When asked about it prior to his recess appointment, Bolton said he "didn't recall" the inquiry.)

July 18: Kelly’s body is
found in the woods near his home.

The Lord Hutton inquiry into Kelly's death rules it a suicide six months later, despite the usual questions that arise in cases such as this.

(*Given everything that has subsequently transpired, Miller's message to Kelly is fraught with intrigue: Hmmm..."fan club"? From which side of the Atlantic was that "fan club" member? Who was it? Keep in mind the context: Kelly’s testimony was vital to the Blair government’s assertion that BBC reporter Gilligan had overstated the information Kelly had given him. So, what does "things went well"mean in Miller's context? Does it have something to do with what Ms. H. suggests? My original rejoinder on that observation and the implications it might have for Libby and Karl Rove is here.)

Hat-tip to reader ERA for suggestion and Just One Minute for the early-days Wilson timeline.

UPDATE: Edited to reflect the Bolton addendum.

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(Your Name Here) Split Over Position on Iraq War

Fill in the blank with....

Democrats? (Umm....that's sort of man-shoots-dog, isn't it?)

Republicans? (Well, Hagel has long had reservations about the Iraq policy.)

Conservatives? Conservatives??? Uh oh. Hopefully, Andrew and the Professor won't be deemed "unpatriotic"! I Keed, I Keed!!!

Kurds?!?! Well, when they thought they were getting this, but instead it looks like they may get this -- one can understand why they may be a bit upset.

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