The Corner

Marshall, Berger, Lanny

I see (Via Andrew Sullivan) that Josh Marshall really has the Dem’s talking points. He writes:

The most obvious, and probably the only, explanation of this leak is that it is intended to distract attention from the release of the 9/11 report due later this week. That would be yet another example of this administration’s common practice of using the levers of executive power (law enforcement, declassification, etc.) for partisan purposes.

Now, it’s certainly defensible to say that this is the “most obvious” explanation. But it is flatly ludicrous to say that this is probably the “only” explanation. Berger is a Clinton alum. So are his chief spinners, including Lockhart and Lanny Davis. Davis’s rule — he even wrote a book on this — is to dump damaging info at the best moment possible. I know several Republicans who think this Berger leak is a classic Lanny Davis move. Berger’s in trouble. The news is going to come out eventually, perhaps during a much worse moment during the presidential campaign. Why not leak it now and say that the Republicans leaked it in order to distract from the 9/11 report? The Clintonites were brilliant at this sort of pre-emptive spinning.

Now, I don’t think this is the most probable explanation either. But Marshall has a remarkably annoying habit of thinking that the only explanations for anything are rooted in the evilness of Republicans. What’s annoying isn’t that instinct, mind you, it’s the way he makes it seem like he’s not being partisan so much as high-minded and sophisticated.

Also, can we please get a little less haughtiness about the White House using its powers for partisan advantage from defenders of the Clinton administration — which filed criminal charges against the travel office and routed immigrants straight off the boats and into the voting booths?

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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