October 06, 2003
Blaming the Source
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Schwarzenegger blames Gray Davis for the fact that now fifteen women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment. The Bush White House is trying to get people to not take the leak of the CIA operative's name seriously because the man's wife is a Democrat. Supporters of Rush Limbaugh blamed his current racial slurs of the liberal media. Go back further, and you will find all sorts of claims of this sort, to George W. Bush dismissing his drunk driving arrest as a "dirty trick" played by his political opponents.
The question is, is it reasonable to try to excuse a wrong action by claiming your enemies released the news? The answer, of course, is no, for a few different reasons.
When it comes down to it, how the news was released has no bearing on what you did. If someone stole a car, it would make no difference if that person were turned in by a loved one or a lifelong enemy; the fact would remain that they stole a car. No matter that an avowed opponent released the information, or that it was released the day before the accused was to start a new job critical to their career. The leaker may be an unkind person, but that does not excuse the person who committed the crime in the first place. If you did wrong, you must be held accountable for that action. If the person who released the information had malicious intent in doing so, then that may also be wrong--but it is a separate matter. Any attempt to draw attention from the person who committed the crime and focus it on the person who released the information is nothing less than a dirty trick in itself.
Schwarzenegger claims Davis is behind the 15 women coming out with claims of sexual harassment. His proof? None. That could easily be a dirty trick--to take your own crime and turn it into a smear against an opponent. What about the Bush administration claiming that Ambassador Wilson is a Democrat? Yes, he made campaign contributions to Democrats, but he also did for Republicans; yes, he has appeared for Democratic events, but he has also appeared for Republican ones. Even George Bush Sr. praised him once. The claim that the crime is mitigated by the allegation about Wilson is as reprehensible as the attempts by Novak, Carlson and other right-wing pundits to try to make people believe Wilson's wife was an analyst or a secretary, in which case no crime was committed--while they knew full well that the nature of her job was still classified, and so their lies would be veiled by the same laws that made the leak illegal in the first place.
In the end, only one thing matters: was there a crime, and if so, how serious was it? The leaking of the CIA operative's name was a federal felony; that is indeed serious. That a presidential candidate was arrested for drunk driving is also relevant; it speaks volumes to judgment.
Conservatives will say, oh, you weren't saying that when Clinton was accused of things? What about the "vast right-wing conspiracy"? Aren't Democrats hypocrites for crying foul about Clinton prosecutions and then demanding the same for Bush?
Many points here.
The things Clinton was accused of were, far more often than not, without veracity. Take the Paula Jones case as an excellent example. First of all, her case was far too weak; it was widely agreed that if she had brought the same case against someone not the president, it would have been dismissed immediately on the basis of merit. The only reason it survived and was investigated was because Democrats were too willing to maintain the appearance of impartiality. If Paul Jones had brought that case against Bush, there would never have been any investigation; Ashcroft would have outright refused to appoint a prosecutor.
Second, there is ample evidence that Jones was indeed prodded to start her case by Clinton's enemies, and was in fact given legal support and funding from parties avowed to destroy Clinton politically. As I mentioned, an accusation of releasing information for political purposes is a separate matter; and as a matter divorced from the allegations made against Clinton, the fact that Paula Jones' case was spurred, financed, and abused by Clinton's political enemies was, in itself, reprehensible.
Most importantly, when Clinton was accused of a serious matter, Democrats took it seriously, and agreed to the investigations. But the GOP so badly abused the special prosecutor statute that, toward the end, prosecutors were being demanded for the vaguest of rumors and the most piddling of offenses. It was never prosecutions for serious crimes that the Democrats opposed, it was rampant abuse of the legal system as a political weapon in cases where there was absolutely no merit or just cause whatsoever.
Posted by: Mitch at June 16, 2007 10:43 PM