What I want to comment on, however, is the actual nature of the hearing itself. Mostly, I want to remark on just what an absurd waste of time it was. Arguably Wilson has been wronged in all this- whatever the investigation has been able to substantiate, I don't think there's any real doubt that Plame was outted for political reasons. Even if those in the White House "didn't know" that she was covert, as the Republican members of the panel argued, Bush's own rhetoric about the need for special powers to fight terrorism places him in a position of special obligation when it comes to protecting our intelligence assets. As the screenwriters of Spiderman took pleasure in reminding us, "With great power comes great responsibility," and if we're all supposed to merily surrender our rights to privacy and free speech the president cannot then hide behind a shield of, "Aw, shucks, I just didn't know, y'all, nobody told me." But I digress...
No, the thing is, everyone sitting on that committee came there with a purpose. For the Democrats, it was to highlight the wrong done to Ms. Wilson. We had much discussion of how many leaks there were, of how obvious it was that CIA operatives should be protected, and much chatting about the damage that such leaks can do. From the Republicans we had essentially the opposite: questions about what "covert" meant,** debating Ms. Wilson's actual harm from the revelation,**** and even outright questioning about her party affiliation. So, for Democrats, the purpose was to condemn the White House and, for Republicans, the purpose was to discredit Ms. Wilson. The entire hearing reminded me of nothing so much as a stage fight- it looks impressive, but it's really just a choreographed dance between people waving cardboard daggers. No injury, no surprise and no point.
Let me be clear on this: the last six plus years have been characterized by a level of political flim-flam that sickens me. The very concept of fair media has gone right out the window due, in no small part, to Karl Rove and Fox News. So please, for crying out loud, can we Democrats find something more productive to do than grandstand for the media? Talk about the Federal prosecutors, talk about the loss of civil liberties from the Patriot Act, hell, actually do something.
But knock off the political theatre because most of us are not in the mood.
* Let's be honest: not the most aesthetically pleasing group in the world.
** Reminding me of nothing so much as debate over the meaning of the word "sex" during the Clinton administration, with the exception that Monica Lewinsky was not an intelligence*** asset.
*** And I mean that in every sense of the word.
**** Seriously, one of the Republicans asked her if she'd suffered financial harm from being shunted involuntarily out of the covert operations career track. This is a little like forcing a doctor to become a lawyer and then asserting that you didn't harm that individual because they didn't take a pay cut. Maybe not, but you've deprived them of their freedom. Doesn't that exceed money in worth? Not, it would seem, to House Republicans.