Once in a while, somebody at the New York Times shows a little spine, but it’s usually only after everybody else is doing the same …
“‘Slime and Defend’
By PAUL KRUGMAN
On July 14, Robert Novak published the now-famous column in which he identified Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, as a C.I.A. “operative on weapons of mass destruction,” and said “two senior administration officials” had told him that she was responsible for her husband’s mission to Niger. On that mission, Mr. Wilson concluded — correctly — that reports of Iraqi efforts to buy uranium were bogus.
The right-wing media slime machine, which tries to assassinate the character of anyone who opposes the right’s goals — hey, I know all about it — has already swung into action. For example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page calls Mr. Wilson an “open opponent of the U.S. war on terror.” We’ve grown accustomed to this sort of slur — and they accuse liberals of lacking civility? — but let’s take a minute to walk through it.
Mr. Wilson never opposed the “war on terror” — he opposed the war in Iraq precisely because it had no obvious relevance to the campaign against terror. He feared that invading a country with no role in 9/11, and no meaningful Al Qaeda links, would divert resources from the pursuit of those who actually attacked America. Many patriots in the military and the intelligence community agreed with him then; even more agree now.
Unlike the self-described patriots now running America, Mr. Wilson has taken personal risks for the sake of his country. In the months before the first gulf war, he stayed on in Baghdad, helping to rescue hundreds of Americans who might otherwise have been held as hostages. The first President Bush lauded him as a “truly inspiring diplomat” who exhibited “courageous leadership.”
In any case, Mr. Wilson’s views and character are irrelevant. Someone high in the administration committed a felony and, in the view of the elder Mr. Bush, treason. End of story.
The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. Republicans have repeatedly impugned their opponents’ patriotism. Last year Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said Democrats “don’t want to protect the American people. . . . They will do anything, spend all the time and resources they can, to avoid confronting evil.”
But the true test of patriotism isn’t whether you are willing to wave the flag, or agree with whatever the president says. It’s whether you are willing to take risks and make sacrifices, including political sacrifices, for the sake of your country. This episode is a test for Mr. Bush and his inner circle: a true patriot wouldn’t hesitate about doing the right thing in the Plame affair, whatever the political costs.
Mr. Bush is failing that test.”