THE WAGONS CIRCLE EVER MORE TIGHTLY….The Weekly Standard, perhaps wisely, is keeping quiet about the Plame affair, but not so NRO. I was disappointed that they didn’t have anything new yesterday for me to make fun of, but today they make up for it with this James S. Robbins entry in the Karl Rove Talking Points Sweepstakes. Most of it is just the usual pathetic effort to pretend that the real story is Joe Wilson’s mint tea drinking habits, but there’s a bit more than that. Here are the highlights:

James S. Robbins


[Joseph] Wilson’s purported influence has been inflated to the point where otherwise sensible people (and some not-so) are alleging that the inner circles of the White House had to resort to felonious leaking to discredit him.

That’s exactly right. And isn’t the fact that this whole sordid episode was launched “purely and simply for revenge” against a minor political nuisance pretty revealing about the fundamental ruthlessness of the Bush White House political operation?

The flap about the putative outing of Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame as a CIA employee is not the important story in this affair as far as I am concerned. The only reason this incident has any legs is the eagerness of the press to set themselves on scandal autopilot. “It seems like the good old days, doesn’t it?” CNN’s Aaron Brown said, hoping perhaps to bring back the good old ratings.

Look! It’s the media’s fault!

Although oddly enough, as we’ll see, Robbins doesn’t seem to actually follow the media very closely.

But the props have been knocked out from under this manufactured conspiracy. Robert Novak clarified that the information about Ms. Plame was not exactly leaked but arose in the natural course of his interview process.

The best way to leak is to make it look natural, isn’t it?

In any case, this is old news. Novak admits that a top White House official did volunteer the information about Plame, whether “naturally” or not, and the Washington Post and others have already reported that several other journalists were also contacted. I guess Robbins doesn’t read the Post.

It also appears that she was not an “operative” (a term that Novak innocently misused, implying she was a clandestine service officer), but an analyst, which there is no crime in revealing. So we are left with a leak that wasn’t a leak, about a secret agent who was evidently neither secret nor an agent.

Not true: see here and here. Apparently Robbins doesn’t read MSNBC or CNN or watch PBS either.

As for the explosive charge that Karl Rove was the mischievous mastermind behind the whole affair, the Honorable Mr. Wilson simply flat out lied about that one.

Wilson definitely went too far, but he had reason. As he’s mentioned before, and repeated to Ted Koppel last night, a reporter told him back in July, “I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He tells me your wife is fair game.” And the Guardian’s Julian Borger says several reporters have already privately named Rove. We can add Nightline and the Guardian to the growing list of media representatives Robbins seems unaware of.

What a hack. Do guys like Robbins really think that by simply ignoring 90% of the story they can make it go away? This kind of performance may win them brownie points from the RNC, but it will just make them look foolish when the facts finally emerge. Reality awaits, James.

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