October 30th, 2005

Post-Fitzmas Ruminations

by Philip Baruth

Die-hard VDB-reader JC frames the ongoing Fitzgerald story nicely, and succinctly:

“What most interests me now, in terms of strategy, is whether Libby will work out a plea bargain. If he fights the charges, he guarantees that the story grows and grows, remaining front page material for months before and during the trial. Cheney would have to take the stand. cheneyA lot about the White House war propaganda operation would be exposed. But a plea bargain would probably still entail prison time for Libby, especially if he doesn’t offer to cooperate with the prosecution. When people are shown the prison cell in which they’ll spend their retirement years, they tend to lose their sense of loyalty toward those who are living it up on the outside.”

I think this frames it up just about right: If you’re Libby, you’ve got spinach on both sides of your plate. But it seems to me that in the end, he doesn’t really have a choice. To wit: the potential damage of the trail is such, and Libby’s standing with the mandarins in such, that taking it through trial produces levels of exposure in a secretive administration that are simply unacceptable. So let’s say Libby agrees to three years in prison, with time off for good behavior. Judith Miller has already spent 85 days in jail simply for refusing to testify, and she’s a girl.

So in the end, Libby will take a light plea, keep his mouth politely closed, receive a pardon from Bush the Younger, and enjoy a level of wealth and power in his sunset years that the rest of us can only imagine.

The only question then is timetable: how soon do you want this off the front pages, how soon does Fitzgerald power down the engines on his inquiry. I don’t think you want to cut a deal before you know, for instance, whether Rove is facing charges. So call it three months time, and then Scooter hits the canvas.

By the way, did you notice the boffo staging on Scooter’s coming-out photo as a newly indicted member of the administration? Killer suit, new hair cut, and crutches! These folks don’t miss a trick. Put that together with Tom Delay’s Senior-yearbook-mugshot and we have a whole new level of media manipulation in the making: Pre-emptive Mugshot Makeovers.

When you see Frist frogmarched out of the Senate in a backbrace, cradling an injured 6-week-old Sharpei puppy, you’ll know the movement has reached its Baroque period.

I should only live so long.