Monday, October 31, 2005

Fitz and Starts
After a crazed few days of work and wedding responsibilities, let me comment briefly on Friday's big news--the indictment of Irving Lewis Libby and the climax, at least for now, of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity in 2003.

I watched most of Fitzgerald's Friday afternoon press conference, and was deeply impressed. On Friday and throughout this long investigation, he has demonstrated no agenda, no preconceived notions, and no desire either to prolong his moment in the spotlight or score points with any faction or constituency. Just the facts, indeed.

At the same time, I bemoan the truth that when it came time to investigate Bill Clinton, the right wing was able to empower a rabid partisan whose transparent mission and desire was to "get the president"--and spent years and tens of millions in trying to do so, doing great damage to the prestige of government in the process. But when it was time to investigate the Bush White House, we got a man of integrity whose fealty to the Law and commitment to staying within his mandate superceded all other considerations.

That Fitzgerald is so much better than the bastards he has investigated, and that his quality of character and unwillingness to go beyond his instructions might insulate them from their just deserts (aside from Libby, who's likely to serve time), is the crowning irony here. It's a bit like the ideals that Judy Miller's defenders cited, of press freedom and absolutist defense of the First Amendment: the worst actors hide behind the best principles.

But at the same time, I'm glad he was the one to do this job, and hopeful (though not very) that his honorable conduct in the public service might serve as a salutary counter-example to the slimy tactics of the administration. As I felt about Bunnatine Greenhouse, any country that produces public servants of this caliber must still have redeeming qualities.

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