Conservatives often ask why so many Republicans go native when they get to Washington, D.C. The answer is: Because you don’t defend them when they come under relentless attacks from liberal hatchet men.
Lewis Libby did what you wanted. He didn’t place secret phone calls to reporters revealing classified intelligence programs. He supported the war on Islamic fascists. He didn’t try to raise your taxes like James Baker III. And he has loyally served Dick Cheney, the man conservatives secretly wish were president.
And now he’s on trial for — at worst — misremembering who first told him that future reality show contestant Joseph Wilson was sent on a boondoggle to Niger by his wife, Valerie Plame.
The way Libby remembered it, NBC’s Tim Russert was the first one to tell him. But the way Russert remembers it, he didn’t tell Libby about Wilson’s wife. (And the way Wilson remembers it, he was sent to Niger by Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.)
Try this: Who told you Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife? Who told you a bipartisan Senate panel concluded that Joe Wilson was lying when he denied that his wife had sent him to Niger? While we’re at it, who was the first person to correct you on your pronunciation of "Niger"?
I don’t remember, either — and I’m not running a war.
The exact same people who are now demanding prison for Libby for not remembering who told him about Plame are the ones who told us it was perfectly plausible for Bill Clinton to forget that Monica Lewinsky repeatedly performed oral sex on him in the Oval Office. Even if chubby Jewish brunettes aren’t your type, be honest: Which of the two events would stand out more in your memory?
Perjury is intentionally swearing to something you know to be untrue — not misremembering what later appears, on balance, not to be the truth.
Here are some simple illustrations. If Clinton had been asked how many sexual encounters it took for him to remember Monica’s name (six) and he got the answer wrong, it would not be perjury since, like Monica’s name, it’s an easy thing to forget.
If Clinton had been asked whether he talked to Rep. Jim Chapman and then to Rep. John Tanner, or to Rep. Tanner and then to Rep. Chapman while Monica was performing oral sex on him in the Oval Office and he got the answer wrong, that would not be perjury because it’s not relevant to the investigation. (Correct answer: Chapman, then Tanner.)
But when Clinton was asked under oath — in a case brought by Paula Jones under the law liberals consider more sacrosanct than any passed in the 20th century, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act: "Mr. President … at any time were you and Monica Lewinsky alone together in the Oval Office?" and he answered, "I don’t recall," that was perjury.
Now take the question: "Who first told you fantasist Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife?" Unless it actually was Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise — the answer to that question is not going to be perjurious. No matter how many witnesses swear they told Libby first, if Libby honestly believed it was Russert, he didn’t commit perjury.
So why is there a trial? Because there is no penalty for using the threat of imprisonment as a political weapon against conservatives. Ask Tom DeLay or Rush Limbaugh.
If Libby were a Democrat, we would know the sexual proclivities of everyone in Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s office, Judith Miller would be portrayed as a "stalker," Tim Russert’s cat would be dead, and the public would know about every toupee at MSNBC.
Republicans don’t have to kill cats to bestir themselves to defend their own from rank partisan persecution. But it never happens.
People who attack conservatives never have to worry about their own dirty laundry coming out. All they have to worry about is whether People magazine will use a good picture of them in its "Sexiest Man Alive" issue.
When Secret Service officers innocently told Monica she couldn’t see Clinton because Eleanor Mondale was "visiting" the president, Bill Clinton immediately threatened to fire the officers responsible. (They say Clinton was so mad it took him an extra couple of minutes to "finish off" in the sink.)
Compare that to how the Bush administration treats an employee caught actually violating a citizen’s rights. An officer with Bush’s own customs office held Rush Limbaugh for three hours at a private airport, mauling his belongings and calling in his Viagra prescription to the media before he had left the airport. We don’t even know her name.
No one has bothered to investigate what prescriptions she takes or whether she has any angry relatives willing to badmouth her. She certainly has not been fired for this egregious violation of an American citizen’s rights. No worries — it was just a conservative.
You want to protect the borders, cut taxes, fight Islamic fascists and put up Ten Commandments monuments? Get her name. Find out about Patrick Fitzgerald what we’d know if he were Ken Starr. If you won’t defend your own champions, conservatives, then don’t sit back and wonder why so few people want to be your champions.