Rush was full of hope this morning. He'd read AP reports that jurors on the 10th day were asking questions like "What is this guy accused of again?," and he had to be thinking Libby was going to walk. Suddenly, tragedy (or for the rest of us "justice") struck just as the first chords of Chrissie Hynde's "My City Was Gone" announced the start to another 3 hours of "broadcast excellence." You've got to hand it to Rush. The Libby verdict was barely 60 seconds old before Rush was out there saying the jurors were D.C. residents with an axe to grind, that they were hopelessly confused as to the charges, and last but not least, Clinton did it. Ah, sweet, sweet Clinton did it. The rich glass of Balvine at the conservative feast of disinformation.
As a public service, I offer Rush's insightful analysis of the Libby verdict. These are the questions you'll have to be prepared to answer after lunch today, at work tomorrow, or with your family this weekend if you, like me, have dittoheads in your lives.
Rush Defense #1: Blame the liberal bias of the judiciary.
This fits pretty nicely with Rush's judicial worldview. The focus of most of the last 20-odd years of the conservative movement has been the "unchecked power of the 'selected not elected' runaway liberal federal judiciary." It creates in Rush's audience the idea that there's something out there beyond your control that could destroy your life forever! That's a powerful trump card in the face of the conservative notion that 'personal responsibility' can overcome any obstacle in one's path. Since the judicial branch is already held in the lowest esteem in the eyes of conservatives, it's not hard to blame the judge for the verdict. Specifically Rush charges that the judge wouldn't allow defense attorneys tell jurors that Plame was outed by Armitage, not Libby. Rush actually goes a step further and attributes motive to Armitage, saying that he was acting as a surrogate for Colin Powell. In Rush's narrative Powell was pissed at Bush for wanting to go to war in the first place, and that the outing of Plame was done to make Bush look bad. It was, to borrow a phrase from South Park's Eric Cartman, a "Serbian double-Jew Bluff." This was interesting to hear. I don't listen to Rush as regularly as I used to, and it marked the first time I've heard Rush throw Powell under the bus. He always used to speak so highly of Powell. Strange days.
Anyway, Rush is really just trying to change the subject. His point is to make his audience think that the case is a political witch hunt. That it's a bunch of Bush-hating libs led by Patrick Fitzgerald (who Rush calls "Fitz-fong" for some reason...I missed the set-up for that particular joke) who are just out to get the President. But you KNOW that if the tables were turned, and if Clinton were accused to exposing a CIA agent for political purposes he'd probably feel different.
The judicial bias doesn't stop with the judge. It extends to the jury as well. This is, after all, a trial being held in the liberal Mecca of Washington D.C. It would be impossible to find 12 people in D.C. who didn't have an axe to grind with this administration. It didn't help that the first juror to be interviewed happened to be an author who wrote a book about spying. "How did the Defense let this guy stay?" Rush asked, and I'm inclined to agree. I mean, if I were Libby the last thing I'd want is a guy who knows all about the damage done by leaking an operative's name. That's like letting a bookie sit on the jury of an athlete who's accused of points shaving. Rush also seems to think that the jury was so confused by the charges that they just decided "to Hell with it, we'll never figure this out so let's just convict him and go home."
Rush might have had a point if the jury had found Libby guilt of all 5 charges in, like 5 minutes. But they spent 10 days considering the evidence, and only convicted him on 4 out of 5 charges. It sounds to me like the jury did a very careful and thorough job. When they were unsure they asked for guidance, and I think they knew full well what the case was about.
But you probably won't find too many dittoheads who are going to buy that, so try this instead. Let's pretend for a moment that there literally isn't a single conservative in D.C. If that's the case, then you can move to have the trial held someplace else! If you don't like one of the jurors, you can kick them off (up to a certain number). From that perspective it seems like Libby just had rotten lawyers, not an insurmountable liberal judiciary.
Rush Defense #2: No crime was committed because Valerie Plame wasn't a covert operative
This is a semantic argument, and it's one of Rush's favorites. Because Valerie Plame wasn't wearing a trench coat hanging out in a dimly lit parking garage with a cigarette in one hand and a plain, manila envelope stamped "secret" in the other, then how can she be harmed by being 'outed?' "She was a desk jockey! She wasn't in any danger!" Rush likes to point out that Plame had "Non-Official Cover" status, so how can you get in trouble for outing someone who wasn't undercover in the first place?
Don't get sucked into an argument about the status of her cover. Whether or not Plame was buying a suitcase nuke from A.Q. Kahn at the time of the outing is irrelevant. The point isn't the harm done to Valerie personally, but what damage was done to the operatives of the company that she worked for - Brewster Jennings & Assoicates. I've never heard Rush mention Brewster Jennings before. Maybe he's addressed it, maybe he hasn't. But I've yet to find a dittohead who's heard of it, so I think they'll be surprised to learn that Plame didn't work alone in her basement. She worked for front company with the CIA looking into the proliferation of 'non-conventional' weapons. Raw Story stated in February of last year that at the time of her outing that Plame was working on WMDs in Iran. That in and of itself should be bad enough. Who's going to return Valerie's phone calls now? But beyond that, everyone who ever worked for Brewster Jennings has been compromised by the leak. And the truth is, we will probably never the full extent of the damage done (in intelligence or in lives).
Rush Defense #3: Since when is it a crime to defend yourself from people who are lying through their teeth?
This is the logical diving board Rush jumped off of during the show today. It sort of sounded like a last cry of the truly desperate. Point 1 - This was a witch hunt. Point 2 - It wasn't even a crime. Point 3 - And even if he did it, so what? Rush's final point was to say that, even if Libby was guilty (and it seems that the last remaining shadow of doubt was removed at around 12:03 p.m. EST) what's wrong with defending the administration from a bunch of liars. He then launches into a discussion of who told Wilson to do what, and what his motives were.
Look, it is technically true that Cheney never said "Joe Wilson, you go to Niger and report on what you found." It's also technically true that Wilson never made that claim.
This goes back to the same semantic argument you've probably had a thousand times with that "Olympic-ly" special dittohead in your life. "Joe Wilson lied about the Vice President sending him to Niger, and Libby was just defending the administration." I swear to God, you will hear this about a zillion times over the next 24 hours on right-wing radio. It doesn't matter how many times you say "Joe never said that the V.P. asked him to go!," that talking point has sailed. Instead, try walking them through the chain. It's not very complicated. Cheney asked the CIA to verify the Niger claim. The CIA went to someone with a background in WMDs and overseas experience (i.e. Plame) to verify the claim. Plame says "hey, my husband used to be the General Services Officer in Niger. He's still got some contacts over there. He could go and ask some questions." He goes, finds nothing, comes home, tells his story. It works its way up the chain of command where the guys at the top ignore him. He gets pissed and tells everybody.
You can say that the "telling everybody" part was a dick move. I won't argue. Personally I think it was a brave and conscientious decision made for the right reasons, but a hero to one can be an asshole to another (case in point - Rush Limbaugh!). The question I have to ask is "how is the guy who said there weren't any WMDs in Iraq the liar?" If the only thing you've got is this B.S. argument about the Vice President, then you really don't have much of an argument.
So, there you go, guys. My 2 cents on "How to Talk to a Dittohead about the Libby Verdict." I hope this helps!