To borrow from the wisdom of our great sage Donald Rumsfeld, you fight the enemy you have, not the enemy you want. In his column Tuesday, "Hurricane Fitzgerald Approaches the White House," NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof does the kind of over-intellectualizing and political cheek-turning that's symbolized the central weakness of the Democratic Party over the last several elections. Kristof laments the possibility of "mushier" indictments of key Bush Administration officials including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and calls instead for discretion and fairness, hoping that Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't demonstrate the level of prosecutorial zealotry that Kenneth Starr was guilty of in his witchhunt of the Clintons for much of the 1990's. Kristof, like many Liberal apologists, fails to recognize the potency of the Republican machine and instead fantasizes of a rational and honorable opponent that clearly exists only in his head.
In short, Kristof, like so many before him these past several years, is saying "let's not stoop to the Republicans' dirty partisan antics." He seems to be echoing one of the latest GOP talking points that Fitzgerald should only indict on the original charge of a possible criminal breach of the 1982 law prohibiting the revealing of CIA agents' identities rather than on the "mushier" kinds of indictments for perjury, obstruction of justice or revealing classified information...But if the evidence is more equivocal, then indictments would mark just the kind of overzealous prosecutorial discretion that was a disgrace when Democrats were targeted. And it would be just as disgraceful if Republicans are the targets."
But that's just it. The Republicans have repeatedly done this sort of thing in the past, and they'll keep doing it. Haven't we yet learned that the GOP will go to any length, will do anything, and will attack anyone in order to win? Even after stolen elections, Swift Boat attack ads and PlameGate are we still unsure of the ruthless tactics our enemy employs to smear its rivals and win races? Does Kristof genuinely believe that taking the high road will cause the other side to do the same? Can he be that naive?
Republicans must be laughing when Liberals like Kristof get self-righteous. They must be thinking, "we'll just keep playing dirty while the Democrats play the honor card. And while they're basking in their own sanctimony we'll keep kicking their butts at the voting booth."
As for the ridiculous notion that charges of perjury or obstruction lack judicial credibility, let's keep one very important thing in mind: no one lies under oath or obstructs an investigation unless they have something to hide. Where there's smoke, there's fire. These are not innocent victims here.
Kristof is "repulsed by the glee that some Democrats show at the possibility of Karl Rove and Mr. Libby being dragged off in handcuffs." Well, I for one would be downright giddy. Actually, as my friend Alan said, seeing those two carted away would be "absolutely delicious."
The simple fact is this: the Republicans are ruthless, and they do play dirty. And they need to be stopped, however the means. According to Kristof, "It was wrong for prosecutors to cook up borderline and technical indictments during the Clinton administration, and it would be just as wrong today." He certainly is downplaying the gravity of the lying and conspiring that the Bushies have engaged in to cover up their catastrophic failure in Iraq which has killed 2000 soldiers and wounded and maimed tens of thousands of others, not to mention the scores of Iraqis killed. For Kristof to compare this to Bill Clinton's lying about sex with Monica Lewinsky is irresponsible and ignorant at best.
The Republicans are a brutal enemy, and you fight a brutal enemy with the same brutality and aggressiveness or you lose. These days, there's no honor in losing, especially when the costs, as we now know, are so high.