ne thing that the Plame affair is accomplishing is distinguishing those bloggers on the right who think independently and truly value integrity from those who follow the party (the Republican Party, that is) line no matter what. Dan Drezner, who is taking a lot of heat, is an example of the former. Tom at “Tbogg” gives us the archetype of the latter as he excoriates the “sloppy logic of Glenn Reynolds whose credibility is rapidly approaching Ari Fleischer’s.”
I paid a visit this morning to Donald Sensing’s “One Hand Clapping” expecting to find some leftover crow. Donald’s initial reaction to the Plame story on Saturday morning was based on his personal experience as an attendee at a seminar where Joseph Wilson spoke. Sensing’s impression of Wilson was a very positive one. He concluded his initial entry on the story with this:
I found Wilson to be expertly knowledgeable on the Middle East and quite sober-minded. I rate his credibility extremely high, so I find the charges he has made very credible and very disturbing.
He took something of a beating on this from the commenters and began to back off. By the last “update” to the entry, he was calling the story “manufactured.”
By Monday evening, he was falling back to the “Novak denies she’s covert” defense, but by Tuesday morning, he was ready to go on the offensive. “The Plame Affair — a manufactured scandal_” was the headline. He writes:
This fact is almost convincing in itself, IMO, that the entire affair has been contrived by Bush opponents from the beginning. First, it is not at all clear that federal law was violated in naming Plame as a CIA employee. The law concerned makes it a crime to reveal the identity of a “covert agent … [whom] the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States. …” The law does not criminalize naming those who are not so protected. No evidence has been offered, by Wilson or anyone else, that Plame’s employment fits into the protected category. The fact that Novak says the CIA itself confirmed her identity and employment to him decisively proves, again in my opinion, that her identity was not legally protected. The call for special counsel comes almost immediately on the heels of Wilson’s complaints. Gee, that seems fast for “numerous Democratic leaders” to get their heads together on a matter so foggy. It almost seems like it was planned that way all along.
The comments began to pore in from Bush critics this time. I cited to him the MSNBC summary of the CIA’s own referral that asserted that its agent’s identity was classified and that the media would not have been able to guess her identity absent the leak. Another commenter referred Donald to WH Counsel Gonzalez’s letter to WH staffers that acknowledged Plame’s “undercover” status. I returned and left a comment pointing Sensing and his readers to Kevin Drum’s excellent point-by-point refutation of Bush defenders’ dodges.
I really expected to see some softening of Sensing’s position by this morning. He might acknowledge that the story has moved right on through the “Novak defense line.” It didn’t happen. He spends this morning attacking Wesley Clark, trying to squeeze good news out of Iraq casualty numbers, and bashing Tom Daschle for wanting a special counsel appointed. Concerning the facts of the Plame affair, Sensing writes:
I am going to presume that by now everyone knows what that issue is about, and won’t waste space re-describing it.
He certainly won’t waste space relating facts, most of which have come from the CIA, DOJ or the WH itself, that obliterate his analysis of the day before.
It’s too bad. People can log on to the RNC site and get the party line. Maybe that’s what Glenn Reynolds was suggesting this morning:
I don’t have much trouble resisting people’s efforts to bully me into advancing their agendas. What worries me more, in a way, are the friendly emails from people saying that they get all their news from InstaPundit. Don’t do that! It’s “InstaPundit,” not “InstaNews Service.” And this is, as Eugene properly notes, an amateur activity. I don’t even get to blog all the stuff that interests me — I’ve really fallen behind on space, guns, and even nanotechnology lately– much less stuff that’s important, but that doesn’t interest me. What you get here — as with any blog — is my idiosyncratic selection of things that interest me, as I have time to note them, with my own idiosyncratic comments. What’s more, to the (large) extent that it’s shaped by my effort to play up stories that Big Media are ignoring, it’s even more idiosyncratic. I hope you like it, but making it your sole source of news is probably not a good idea.
There must be a lot of pressure on widely-read pundits on the Right. Some of them are showing extraordinary integrity. Some are understandably waiting for more facts to develop before they commit themselves. But for some, it’s clear that pundit = cheerleader.