The Plame Flame Gets Extinguished

James Taranto has a piece on the fingering of Richard Armitage as the original leaker of Valerie Plame’s identity, creating much furor from overheated leftybloggers but little of substance. Armitage was always on the short-list of Plame leakers, and it appears that his identity has been known to investigators from the beginning. One wonders why in the world this case was pursued as strongly as it was — and the idea that there was an aspect of political theater to this whole quixotic quest cannot be lightly brushed aside.

Still, this just shows how terminally unserious the left is. We heard constant refrains of “TREASON!!!!!1111!!!!!one!!!!1eleventy” from the “netroots” left, and constant calls for Karl Rove to be dragged out of the White House in chains, tried, and summarily executed. (Apparently due process is absolutely necessary for terrorists, but Republicans don’t deserve such formalities.) This was all supposed to have been an act of supreme political payback from a Machiavellian White House who would silence all opposition to their evil scheme to invade Iraq.

Instead what do we find? Rove won’t be indicted and didn’t do anything wrong. Scooter Libby seems nearly certain to walk. There was no attempt to “smear” Wilson other than the White House stating the truth — that Wilson was lying through his teeth. The Senate all but called Wilson an outright liar, and his credibility has been reduced to zero. The White House has been completely forthright in their dealings with this investigation. The inestimable Tom Maguire has a timeline showing why there was no conspiracy here.

A self-described “gossip” at State leaked some sensitive information to a reporter. The amount of harm here seems to be minimal — despite all the claims that Plame was some kind of superspy there’s no evidence that her cover was anything more than a perfunctory attempt at concealment and it is likely that her name had already been leaked by Aldrich Ames over a decade ago.

If the left wants to make an example of government officials that leak information to reporters, then they’ll get exactly what they want the next time some Bush Administration initiative is splashed all over the front page of The New York Times. Somehow, I have a feeling that the Democrats aren’t so stupid as to shoot their own foots in that way — then again, one can never go wrong betting on the terminal levels of idiocy from the Democratic Party as of late.

In the end, the non-scandal is even less of a scandal than it was before. There’s no grand conspiracy, no evil machinations, no massive cover-up, no real surprises. There will be no Rove indictment, no frog-marching, no grand uncoverings. For the Democrats, I’m sure that’s a great disappointment. However, when all one needs is a tenuous relationship with the truth and a nose for dirt, there’s always another scandal waiting in the wings.

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