Thursday, October 09, 2003

Bush: "This is a large administration and there are a lot of senior administration officials, and I don't have any idea."

The American Prospect: "When reporters cite 'senior administration officials,' they generally mean the vice-president, the cabinet secretaries, those with cabinet-rank, the chief of staff, maybe the deputy chief of staff, and a couple of other really senior advisors. It's a fairly limited pool."

You'd think somebody without a political axe to grind could shed light on this. I've seen the line about a limited pool of "senior administration officials" before, mainly on Josh Marshall's site. I never entirely believed Marshall on this, but I trust he knows what he's talking about more than Bush.

Plame overload. OK, enough ink spilled already. But I've seen two pieces worth reading in the last few days:

1. Matt Welch's column in National Post. Absolutely no new information here, but here's the thing: At first I thought the Plame Affair had a limited shelf life, because it seemed such a weird complicated aberration, and of all the nasty White House deeds, this one didn't seem particulary indicative of the Bush administration's deepest flaws. Matt made me rethink that big time.

2. Jack Shafer in Slate, who's actually read the law. Despite Bush's own remarks to the contrary, Shafer says it's highly unlikely that anybody actually broke the law. What's this mean?

It's actually pretty bad for Bush. He has, quite stupidly, already told the public that a crime took place. And regardless, it's clear that something terrifically ugly happened. A majority of Americans already believes this warrants an outside investigation.

Bush, meanwhile, has already made it clear that he's not going to ferret out the truth on his own. And when the FBI investigation runs its course? The FBI has almost no chance of finding the perpetrator -- not because, as Bush says, "This is a large administration," but because there is no perpetrator.

Damn. That's gotta hurt. In other words, it'll remain an open wound, or at least a permanent chink in the president's armor. The more it drags on -- and, ironically, the less that turns up -- the more Bush looks like a Nixonian slimer, defender, and cover-upper.


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