Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Very well then... 
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman - Song of Myself
Reading his columns these last few days, I'm guessing that Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times must be a Walt Whitman fan, because it sure doesn't seem like he's concerned about contradicting himself.

In his 10/25/05 column(paid registration required), Kristof wrote, apropos Patrick Fitzgerald's anticipated TreasonGate indictments
...I find myself repulsed by the glee that some Democrats show at the possibility of Karl Rove and Mr. Libby being dragged off in handcuffs. It was wrong for prosecutors to cook up borderline and technical indictments during the Clinton administration, and it would be just as wrong today.
That passage earned Kristof a well-deserved "Wanker of the Day" citation from Atrios last week. After all, perjury and obstruction of justice are NOT simply "technical," they are themselves felonies, usually committed while trying to hide other, even more serious, crimes.

In the 10/30 edition of The Times, Kristof is of another mind entirely
I owe Patrick Fitzgerald an apology.

Over the last year, I've referred to him nastily a couple of times as "Inspector Javert," after the merciless and inflexible character in Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables." In my last column, I fretted aloud that he might pursue overzealous or technical indictments.

But Mr. Fitzgerald didn't do that. The indictments of Lewis Libby are not for memory lapses or debatable offenses, but for repeatedly telling a fairy tale under oath.

Writing of the Vice-President's role in all this, he says
You were right, Mr. Cheney, in your insistence that the White House be beyond reproach. Now it's time for you to give the nation "a stiff dose of truth." Otherwise, you sully this country with your own legalisms.
And this
...If Mr. Cheney can't address the questions about his conduct, if he can't be forthcoming about the activities in his office that gave rise to the investigation, then he should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should demand his resignation.
Now, in today's column, he's moved to address this directly to Mr. Cheney

Even when Spiro Agnew was embroiled in a criminal investigation, he tried to explain himself, repeatedly. Do you really want to be less forthcoming than Dick Nixon and Spiro Agnew?

We don't need to try to turn this into Watergate, and we don't need gloating from the Democrats. But we do need straight talk from you. The indictment has left a cloud that impedes governing, and if we're to move on, we need you to clear the air.

So, Mr. Cheney, tell us what happened. If you're afraid to say what you knew, and when you knew it, then you should resign.

Wow - from technicalities to Vice-Presidential resignations, in under a week! Patrick Fitzgerald may have connected the dots a bit better than those of us less in-the-know, but anyone who can read could have figured out that this was a case that went far beyond Ken Starr-style technicality-based persecution. Nicholas Kristof has been in the midst of this story for over two years now and, like the rest of us, has been observing Cheney and the Office of the Vice-President for the past 5 years. None of this should have come as a surprise to him. So what really changed his mind? I'd really like to know. I sure hope it was more than that a person in a position of authority (Fitzgerald) gave him (implied) permission to believe it. That would be a strange place for a reporter to be - but absent some better rationale, all I see is Whitman's "Very well then I contradict myself." That's great for poets, maybe, but not so hot for journalists.

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