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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Zooming down the northeast corridor I was just reading Greg Anrig's delightful post at TPMCafe on conservatives' attempt to get their way out of under the Bush presidency. Greg's is actually a riff on Jon Chait's piece at TNR, which I'm just starting.

With all the efforts now to disassociate President Bush from conservatism, I am starting to believe that conservatism itself -- not the political machine, mind you, but the ideology -- is heading toward that misty land-over-the-ocean where ideologies go after they've shuffled off this mortal coil. Sort of like the way post-Stalinist lefties used to say, "You can't say Communism's failed. It's just never really been tried."

But as it was with Communism, so with conservatism. When all the people who call themselves conservatives get together and run the government, they're on the line for it. Conservative president. Conservative House. Conservative Senate.

What we appear to be in for now is the emergence of this phantom conservatism existing out in the ether, wholly cut loose from any connection to the actual people who are universally identified as the conservatives and who claim the label for themselves.

We can even go a bit beyond this though. The big claim now is that President Bush isn't a conservative because he hasn't shrunk the size of government and he's a reckless deficit spender.

But let's be honest: Balanced budgets and shrinking the size of government hasn't been part of conservatism -- or to be more precise, Movement Conservatism -- for going on thirty years. The conservative movement and the Republican party are the movement and party of deficit spending. And neither has any claim to any real association with limited or small government. Just isn't borne out by any factual record or political agenda. Not in the Reagan presidency, the Bush presidency or the second Bush presidency. The intervening period of fiscal restraint comes under Clinton.

Take the movement on its own terms and even be generous about it. What's it about? And has it delivered?

Aggressive defense policy? Check.

Privatization of government services? Check.

Regulatory regimes favoring big business? Check.

Government support for traditional mores and values on sex and marriage? Check.

That about covers it. And Bush has delivered. The results just aren't good.

Jonah Goldberg has this one line post up at The Corner.

So where does Karl Rove report to get his reputation back?


It occurs to me that this may be meant in jest. Jonah is not without a sense of humor. But I'll assume for the sake of discussion that he's being serious.

As Andrew Sullivan aptly quips, maybe Rove can go look for it in South Carolina. More to the point, let's not forget the salient facts here. The question going back three years ago now is whether Karl Rove knowingly participated in leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative for the purpose of discrediting a political opponent who was revealing information about the White House's use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

That was the issue. From the beginning, Rove, through Scott McClellan, denied that he did any of that. There weren't even any clever circumlocutions. He just lied. From admissions from Rove, filings in the Libby case, and uncontradicted reportage, we know as clearly as we ever can that Rove did do each of those things.

So he did do what he was suspected of and he did lie about it.

Now, I'm happy to take Patrick Fitzgerald's word for it, his evaluation of the evidence, that there's not enough evidence to indict Rove on any criminal charge. As Rove's defenders have long made clear, the underlying statute dealing with revealing the identities of covert operatives is very hard to bring a charge with. Same goes for making false statements or perjury. Hard to prove and you need lots of evidence as to intent and so forth.

In fact, not only am I happy to take Fitzgerald's word for it, if this is in fact the case, good for Fitzgerald. A prosecutor's role is not to punish people for malicious acts. It is to ascertain whether they've committed specific criminal acts and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain a charge.

But none of this changes the fact, for which there is abundant evidence, even admissions from Rove himself, that he did the malicious act. And he lied about doing it. Indeed, on top of that, President Bush welched on his promise to can anyone who was involved.

So, what reputation is it exactly that Rove wants back? I think this development leaves Rove's reputation quite intact.

Back in the lead-up to the Iraq War one of the few, perhaps only, US intelligence agencies to be consistently skeptical and correct about Iraq's phantom WMDs, was INR, the State Department's in-house intelligence shop. (INR's full name is the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.) That put INR frequently at loggerheads with then-arch-State Department bamboozler John Bolton, now US Ambassador to the United Nations.

During Bolton's failed confirmation hearings, the head of INR during President Bush's first term, Carl Ford, actually testified against Bolton's nomination.

Now comes word that INR is being turned over to Randall Fort, vice president and director of global security for Goldman Sachs, who appears to be a confirmed Bolton supporter.

Fort wrote a letter in support of Bolton during his confirmation hearings.

More fingers.

Sens. Martinez (R) and Nelson (D) of Florida.

Sens. Hutchison (R) and Cornyn (R) of Texas.

Sen. Schumer (D) of New York.

Coming down the pike (from Roll Call) ...

The House will gear up this week for what could be one of its most significant debates in several years, as the chamber spends much of Thursday considering a Republican-crafted resolution on Iraq.

While the debate will be designed to allow all sides to air their views of the war on the House floor, the resolution itself — which portrays the Iraq conflict as a front in the larger war on terrorism — is likely to inspire controversy, since its language largely reflects the views of House Republicans rather than Democrats.

The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet today to set the parameters of Thursday’s debate. Because the legislative vehicle is a resolution rather than a bill, it would not be amendable by Democrats, though they will have an opportunity to offer a motion to recommit.

According to a draft version that was obtained Friday and is still subject to change, the resolution will begin by “declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.”

The resolution goes on to emphasize the importance of fighting terrorism and says that Saddam Hussein “constituted a threat against global peace and security.” The language also refers to Iraq and Afghanistan as two parts of the same fight.


The creed.

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