A funny thing happened on the way to the nation's highest forum last week. After Harry Reid attempted to use the well of the U.S. Senate to advance his party's frivolous attempt at ousting Karl Rove for outing Joe Wilson's wife, GOP leaders actually fought back. After four years of quietly beating the minority to a pulp behind the scenes and at the ballot box, Bill Frist and company exhibited a rare public display of political payback.
Amid the undulating and ever-changing accusations of Republican skullduggery, the liberal left -- ever reliant on its faithful media wing -- finally turned its attention away from the balmy climes of Guantanamo Bay and focused on its favorite beltway bogeyman, Rove.
Against this latest threat to national security, Democrats sent the steely-eyed sniper Reid and his poisoned legislative pen to write the following amendment (#1222) to the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill:
No Federal employee who discloses, or has disclosed, classified information, including the identity of a covert agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, to a person not authorized to receive such information shall be permitted to hold a security clearance for access to such information.
Faster than you can say "ex post facto law," the majority leapt into action. Cherry-cheeked assassin Mitch McConnell then asked that the Frist Amendment (#1223) be read:
Any federal officeholder who makes references to a classified Federal Bureau of Investigation report on the floor of the United States Senate, or any federal officeholder that makes a statement based on a FBI agent's comments which is used as propaganda by terrorist organizations thereby putting our servicemen and women at risk, shall not be permitted access to such information or to hold a security clearance for access to such information.
Childish though this Durbin-for-Rove tit-for-tat may seem, it marked a rare defiance by Republicans in the face of the liberal mud-slinging machine. Right-wing supporters have clearly longed for some red meat from their Senate leaders and have generally come up hungry. Not this time. Even the usually staid Pat Roberts, summing up the facts of the case, got worked up:
"What we have here is a Special Prosecutor with a lot of leaks; we have a reporter in jail for a story she did not write; we have a steady stream of leaks about every aspect of this case; we have the Washington press corps in full attack mode; and, finally, before we have all the facts known, we have my colleagues across the aisle calling for Karl Rove's resignation, if not incarceration. So much for the presumption of innocence."
And here is McConnell on Joe Biden:
"Statements on the Senate floor -- out here on the Senate floor -- comparing our service men and women to tyrannical regimes that result in risking their safety must not and should not stand. I hope when the Senate has an opportunity to address both of these amendments shortly, the Reid amendment will be defeated and the Frist amendment will be adopted."
Of course, both amendments failed as sanity was restored after ninety minutes of partisan high jinks and rhetorical flourish concluded. But the political "gotcha" game continues with the left's jihad against Karl Rove, even as the GOP shows signs of using their own tactics against them. And it's not as if some current Democrats haven't had their own run-ins with security issues in the not-too-distant past.
Harry Reid underhandedly alluded to "a problem" in the confidential FBI files of judicial nominee Henry Saad. John Kerry let slip the name of an undercover CIA officer in a question to John Bolton at his confirmation hearing, even as Mr. Bolton tried to cover up the gaffe by referring to the agent as "Mr. Smith" in his reply.
And who, but Democrats, can forget former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who pleaded guilty to stealing and destroying classified material in advance of the 9/11 Commission report and then lied about the whole matter? Berger, who was a sure bet to receive a high cabinet post in the Kerry administration had there been one, was forced to leave his post as campaign advisor on matters of foreign police and national security.
Which all leads back to another Kerry campaign adviser, Joe Wilson, who joined the team just prior to his first star-turn, the fatuous "sixteen words" tour in 2003. Shortly after hitting the hustings, diplomat Wilson said, "I don't care who you vote for, but get out there and caucus. Don't leave it to the neoconservatives and evangelical Christians."
Out of mothballs after failing to spur his candidate to victory, Wilson is once again making the media rounds as a left-wing darling, even though most of his allegations have been discredited. This has never stopped Democrats from attacking the president, his administration and his party. But this time they may have a fight on their hands.
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