While lying to a grand jury is serious the main elements of this case seem to amount to literally nothing. But what is one of the more reasonable liberal bloggers, Kevin Drum, writing? Sounds alot like many Republicans back when there was the Whitewater-Clinton-Lewinski scandal. This shows that the Liberals/Left is fitting in perfectly with Megan McArdle’s theory of political parties.

Jane’s Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

As exhibit A we have this,

“Mr. Libby’s story that he was at the end of a chain of phone calls was not true. It was false. He was at the beginning of a chain of phone calls” that disclosed Plame’s identity. He lied repeatedly about this under oath.

Now, the quoted portions come from Patrick Fitzgerald from his press conference, but note that the quotations end at “…that disclosed Plame’s identity.” And in a later post Kevin writes,

Libby could have told the truth, but then he would have had to admit his role in outing a CIA agent in order to score political points against a critic of the administration. He didn’t want that campaign to become public, so he invented a cover story, repeated it under oath, and stuck to it on multiple occasions.

If this were true, then Libby would have been charged with more than perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. Kevin wants desperately for this to be some sort of Pony under the Christmas tree, but it is just some cheap candy you get on Halloween.

What is really amusing is that the Democrats/Liberals were incensed that Clinton was indicted of very similar charges (yes, the circumstances were different, but that strikes me as basically irrelevant since the crime isn’t contingent on the circumstances). But it is a great thing that Libby is indicted on similar charges. Democrats and Republicans are opposite sides of the same coin. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to down play any wrong doing on Libby’s part. My point is the inconsistency for both parties. Back when Clinton was in the White House going after him on things like perjury was a just fine from the Republican viewpoint and a bad thing from the Democrat viewpoint. Now that the positions have switched so have the viewpoints with the Democrats taking the more rabid viewpoint this time.

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Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. SoloD says:

    Listening to Fitzpatrick speak, it sounded a lot like he was saying (reading between the lines) that he thought that Libby violated the law by disclosing Plame’s identity, but that it was easier to punish him through the perjury/obstruction charge.

    Sorta of like getting Capone on tax evasion. Its the Chicago way.

  2. Brian says:

    I agree. It’s not that the elements of the case amount to nothing, it’s that the elements of the case are very hard to prove in court. By lying, Libby gave the prosecution an easy to prove felony charge.

  3. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence for Libby, or has indictment become a synonym for conviction?

    And in the interest of completeness, Clinton did a little more than just perjure himself. If it turns out that Libby suborned others to perjure themselves on his behalf then perhaps we can equate the two cases.

    Gee, does that make me a right wing nut?

  4. slickdpdx says:

    Lying about an investigation into an alleged breach of classified information IS different from lying to avoid culpability in a civil suit. How different I’m not sure.

    The hypocrisy is still there. E.g. Treatment of Phillip Agee and Joe wilson vs. treatment of Libby. Treatment of Bill Clinton vs. Clarence Thomas (who didn’t even get any action!)

  5. Hal says:

    First, K. Drum as rabid is pretty rich. Second, let’s get some things straight about what democrats were incensed about and how that projects to the current situation.

    1) Lying under oath – always bad

    I can’t think of any democrat making the argument that Clinton lying under oath wasn’t wrong and against the law.

    2) Lying about consensual sex

    While wrong and against the law, isn’t a horrible thing. The American people, as well as the democrats, seemed to come to the conclusion that – while wrong and against the law – didn’t rise to the level of impeachment.

    3) Criminal vs. Civil

    I’m not sure how this really plays. Lying to a civil court seems just as bad as lying to a criminal court.

    In short, where Verdon gets it wrong is that Democrats weren’t forgiving of Clinton’s perjury – in fact, it’s what finally did him in for the vast majority of his supporters. Democrats were incensed at him being put in the position where he would lie, but we do not excuse the lie. Please, Steve, if you’re going to continue to make this assertion, please at least supply some patina of evidence that Democrats were doing this. Surely there must be a quote or two you can dig up, right? If not, please stop pushing the meme. Okay?

  6. Jeff in Pullman, WA says:

    Hal and other Democrats ignore one very crucial issue in this matter of contrasting Libby with Clinton. One was an aide to the Vice President, while the other was THE President.

  7. Hal says:

    So, there’s different justice for people who aren’t the president? Quite frankly, Jeff, your rebuttal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Yes, the president lying under oath is a big deal – just like anyone who lies under oath is a big deal. He paid the price for it. Just like anyone should have to pay the price.

    So, what’s your point? My point is that democrats never trivialized perjury. Your point is?

  8. Steve Verdon says:


    Feel free to search Drum’s archives yourself. Kevin has himself made the case that Clinton was hounded by the Republicans and that it was far worse than anything the Democrats have done with regards to Bush.

    In short, where Verdon gets it wrong is that Democrats weren’t forgiving of Clinton’s perjury – in fact, it’s what finally did him in for the vast majority of his supporters. Democrats were incensed at him being put in the position where he would lie, but we do not excuse the lie.

    Your partisan blinders are quite obvious here. Couldn’t Republicans argue just as effectively that they are incensed that Libby has put in a position where he would lie?

    And finally, I suggest you try a remedial reading course or something. I didn’t say Drum was rabid. In fact, I said he was one of the more reasonable bloggers on the Left. As far as the rabid comment went it was in regards to a group–since your reading comprehension is lacking I’ll spell out the group: D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T-S. Confusing a description for a group in general with every member of the group is ridiculous.

  9. Hal says:

    Well, my apologies regarding the misunderstanding wrt K. Drum.


    You seem to forget that there were years of investigations. The perjury came dead last. So, in essence, there wasn’t any crime throughout the entire investigation up until the very end.

    Contrast this with the case before us today. There was a crime, and Libby obstructed justice in addition to perjuring himself. As Fitz said, Plame’s covert status was outed. The obstruction of justice charges point out the fact that Libby threw “sand” in the umpire’s eyes (as Fitz puts it).

    So, to sum up, Clinton was hounded for years on no charges. Libby committed a crime, obstructed justice and lied about it then Fitz spent 2 years getting things pinned down.

    Big difference. Lie first, investigation later. In the case of Clinton, pointless investigation first, lie last.

    Oh, and Fitz isn’t done yet. I’m sure we’re just seeing the first act here.

  10. Hal says:

    And just to be clear, Steve. The outing of Plame happened first, Libby lied to the FBI, Fitz then investigated the outing to determine if there was a crime, and during the investigation Libby obstructed the investigation and perjured himself. The first lie was before the investigation to the FBI. He just compounded his problems during his investigation.

    Pray tell what the analogue in the Clinton case was.

  11. odograph says:

    I think there is a lot to consider here from a nonpartisan perspective.

    It is true though, that immediately following Mr. Fitzgerald’s press conference “spinners” appeared who were willing (by sloppy thinking, or malice of forethought) to “extend” what he said into something else.

    I take him on face value, that perjury (etc.) in an investigation of a national security issue, by top members of the Administration, is a very serious issue.

  12. jpe says:

    And in the interest of completeness, Clinton did a little more than just perjure himself.

    Yeah, he had people whacked. Right, ya fuckin nutjob? The freemasons were in there somewhere, too.

  13. Hal says:

    Yea, one would think so. Fitz made it clear that this was about national security and was quite serious. Considering the 30 years Libby is facing for the charges he has against him, prosecuting him for outing Plame seems – as he said – punished (the outing of Plame only carrying a term of ten years).

    It is rather interesting to see the spin, though.

  14. Nancy says:

    All the comments here are about the press conference. The indictment is where Fitzgerald makes his case. I don’t see how anyone could read it and then say, “the main elements of this case seem to amount to literally nothing.”

    Fitzgerald stopped short of calling Valerie Wilson “covert,” but said her employment was classified and not known outside the government. He tried to find out WHY her employment was revealead – what was the motive and how did it happen? Scooter’s lies made it impossible for him to find out.

    The starting point for Fitzgerald’s narrative is Bush’s State of the Union speech, the 16 words, Wilson’s challenge. There is reason for that.

  15. Arguing with people who read half of what you write and then let their fevered imaginations fill in the rest is so very illuminating.

    jpe — I defy you to find any instance in the almost four years I have been blogging where I have claimed that Bill Clinton had anyone whacked or otherwise physically asaaulted. Better yet, take your medications and spend some time in a remedial reading and comprehension course.

    Now if you will excuse me I have to go and decide whether I shall have the 36 Invisibles, the Rosicrucians, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Gnomes of Zurich, the Knights Templar, the Bilderberg Group, Skull & Bones, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Priory of Sion, the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Crosss, or some other crypto-Kaballistic cabal stop by and teach you some manners. You can have the Freemasons, they’re just a bunch of wannabees. Oh, no wait, I have it — I’ll sic the VWRC on you. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Now, in the immortal words of Rik Mayall, “have you had enough you Nazi, or do you want so more?”

    And I hear that anonymous blogging makes your penis smaller too.

  16. Please substitute “some more” for “so more” in the penultimate sentence of the last post.

    My humble apologies.

  17. Jeff in Pullman, WA says:

    Hal, ol’ pal. I never made any claim, either directly or through implication, that there has been “different justice” for anyone. My point is simply this; comparing Libby with Clinton must include a consideration of each one’s public position at the time of each investigation, and that, perhaps, the consequences for the welfare of this nation are more affected by a self-diminished president than by an, as yet, untried administration aide. Clinton was once the most powerful man in the world and one whose tenure was wracked by character flaws far greater than even sad old Richard Nixon. Even with Libby’s trevails to boost your spirits, you will never make a silk purse out of Bill Sowsear.