This column defending Ted Olson in today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial Page is people’s evidence #1 that Olson really is in a lot of trouble. And it’s also a classic example of attempted editorial sleight of hand.
The editorial argues that people who attack the Arkansas Project are really just attacking the First Amendment since there is nothing wrong — and certainly nothing illegal — with private parties investigating a president and publishing evidence of his law-breaking or bad acts.
That’s certainly true.
Now there’s quite another matter of whether this was legal for tax-exempt organizations to be involved in; or whether those involved in the Project may have violated other laws in the process of their work, or whether Ken Starr’s Independent Counsel’s Office might have been improperly connected with it. But let’s set all those matters aside and assume that the Arkansas Project was only what it undeniably was: a vicious and unsavory exercise of political hardball in its hardest form.
Look closely at the Journal Editorial: don’t they completely avoid and try to confuse the point? The question — tied to Olson’s hubris — is why he lied about his involvement in the Project. The editorial barely touches on this and simply goes on about how innocuous the Project was. Lying about it is what’s got him in trouble. The editorial not only barely tries to defend him on this ground. It actually mounts a transparently contradictory defense. Saying that there wouldn’t be anything to lie about in the first place.
(Bartley, Fund, et.al: guys, it’s the cover-up that gets you, right? Haven’t you guys been telling us that for ages?)
Live by the vicious and unsavory exercise of political hardball, die by the vicious and unsavory exercise of political hardball.
Next up, why Olson felt he needed to lie about the Arkansas Project; why he might have thought he could get away with it; and when he was accused of lying to Congress before.