Bloggers go to town on Scooter Libby’s outing of President Bush as declassifier-in-chief. They also have (mostly) hosannas for South Park’s cartoon jihad episode.
Declassifer-in-chief: The New York Sun reported Thursday that indicted former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby testified to the grand jury that President Bush in 2003 gave the ultimate go-ahead to authorize leaking to the press “key judgments” of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, detailing among other claims that Iraq was “vigorously trying to procure” uranium from Niger. No shocker that the blogosphere is all over the revelation.
Former Clinton speechwriting intern Steven Benan writes at The Carpetbagger: “[T]his wasn’t a straightforward example of the president simply declassifying information he no longer needed to keep secret; this was an example of him selectively leaking misleading information as part of a deceptive argument for war.” Selective, sure—since the White House was rebutting Joe Wilson’s dismissal of an Iraq-Niger “yellowcake” nexus. But misleading? Au contraire, argues conservative Byron York at the National Review blog The Corner: “[I]t should be remembered that when the president decides to make something public, then it can be made public. In the Plame case, there has been much discussion of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Would anyone argue that this disclosure was unauthorized?”
However, the question of whatwas disclosed and how shouldn’t be parried, according to the nameless lawyer at The Anonymous Liberal:“So let’s assume, for the moment, that Libby’s testimony is accurate. That would mean that the President, instead of following normal declassification procedures and publicly releasing a redacted version of the NIE, authorized an aide to present a cherry-picked and manipulated version of that document to a friendly New York Times reporter on deep background. That aide then passed along the highly misleading information and asked that it be attributed to a ‘former Hill staffer.’ That may not be illegal, but it is sure as hell unethical.”However, right-leaning Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters suggests headline writers are the ones trying to have it both ways: “The media had demanded answers to the charges leveled by Wilson and his supporters, and those answers were found in the NIE. The decision to declassify it and publish it came as a result of that demand. Once the decision is made to declassify information, it can be released in any number of ways. This was both leaked and openly presented in the same fortnight.”
Andrew Sullivan, long a critic of the administration, considers the news “insight into the president’s character”: “It wasn’t Karl Rove’s dirty tricks or David Addington’s Schmittian ideology or Dick Cheney’s ‘dark side’ here. It’s George W. Bush - hard-assed political fighter, micro-managing press coverage of a minor matter, using the privileges of his constitutional position as commander-in-chief to play Washington hardball at a time of war.”
Read more about the late-breaking Libby testimony.
Respect their authoritae: In what many are calling the show’s most mordant satire to date, South Park aired an episode Wednesday that simultaneously took on the Danish cartoon fracas, the media’s manic-depressive relationship with the First Amendment, and Comedy Central’s lawsuit-phobic capitulation to Scientology. And after winning, on the same day, a Peabody Award for excellence in entertainment, South Park is easily the most blogged-about television this week.
“Uncle Jimbo” at Bush-boosting military blog Blackfive is exultant: “I love these guys. I would be hard pressed to find better examples of why this country is great, than these two and the holy terror they wreak on hypocrisy, pomposity and intolerance, generally by skewering the so-called forces for tolerance.”
Brendan Loy at The Irish Trojan’s Blog is also a big fan: “Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s take on the the cravenness of the sellout media establishment, and the P.C. movement’s insistence on unquestioned obedience to the god of ‘sensitivity’ and ‘tolerance,’ rings absolutely true with me.” Whereas the proudly salty-tongued Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is pissed that the Peabody commission had to get sanctimonious in its praise: “Please, please, please stop. Why can’t you just say it’s funny, so we gave it an award? Does everything have to be emblematic of the need to ‘tolerate’ every fucking thing?”
Perhaps the only thumbs-down comes from Patrick Rodriguez at the Berkeley-based California Patriot. He maintains that the episode “struck out” by hugging the shore, arriving too late after the cartoon row, and being offensive to Islamic sensibilities: “While South Park’s big point seems to be that they’re not afraid to pick a side and protect free speech, it’s an empty one. In reality, the show just picked the easy side (’Go free speech!’), joining the clique of conservative organizations that have already done so. And frankly, free speech needs no protection at its political epicenter.”
Tell that to Catholic blogger The Anchoress, who couldn’t stomach last season’s “Bloody Mary” episode—about numinous “sightings” of the Virgin Mary—but simply turned off her television in response: “Tonight, I thought they SP boys let ‘er rip - they ragged on Family Guy, the Mohammed Cartoons, themselves and even their cable network. It was bold and gutsy, in an era where no one is bold or gutsy, or they make a movie about Edward R. Murrow and think that’s ‘brave.’”
Read more about South Park’s perch atop popular culture.