The more I read and think about this — and watch both sides on the Sunday shows — I think this whole story is an enormous fizzle. Maybe the investigation is going someplace exciting, maybe there’s more than we know, etc etc. But as it appears to me right now, this is a bust. No conspiracy to out a CIA agent. No serious smear campaign against Wilson run out of the White House. No indictments on the underlying alleged crime to begin with. No indictment of Rove and none appearing to be in the works. Some on the left hope that the Libby trial will rip open the debate about the war and expose all sorts of juicy details. But how can that happen? The prosecution will have no interest in dragging the war into the trial. The defense won’t be interested in doing that — at least not in any way that will reflect badly on the war. So how will the trial — perhaps a year from now by the way — re-open the White House’s war wounds?
My first reaction, recall, was that this was bad news for the White House because it will keep the story in play. But — barring new revelations from Fitzgerald — I don’t think it will. Sure, the Democrats will try. But it’s hard to see how Libby’s problems will even stay in the news past the next week. The pre-trial wrangling will take place mostly out of the headlines. The news will be generally dry — court dates set, witness lists revealed etc. Yes, it would be buzzy if Cheney testified but what would he say? He’d describe a brief conversation and that would be it.
Again, neither side in the case has any incentive to put the White House on trial or anything like that. So Cheney testifies away from the cameras and pfft, that’s it. And even if Libby’s convicted — which still sounds like a big if to me — it will be a long time from now and won’t serve to confirm any of the major allegations against the White House itself. Bush is going to pick a new Supreme Court nominee tomorrow or the next day which will hopefully rally the base and the political narrative will all be about his comeback — real or attempted. And, let’s not forget, there’s a lot of other news out there.
In other words, unless we hear something new and exciting, it’s a lump of coal for the anti-Bush Fitzmas crowd.
Andy? Mark? Cliff…anybody. What am I missing?