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29.10.05

The Spirit of Fitzmas

The liberal pants-wetting over the Scooter Libby indictment is really sad. A mid-level functionary that 95% of Americans have never heard of gets indicted, and this is what's supposed to bring down the Republican Party? It doesn't say much for liberalism that we hope our philosophy wins, not on the merits, but because we can catch some folks on the other side breaking the rules.

For some historical perspective on the effectiveness of scandals, let's think back to Watergate. Watergate was an even better scandal than Plame-gate -- an uncharismatic president (unlike our current Mr. Personality Cult) was directly implicated (not just members of his administration) in something that was unarguably a crime (there are still people who defend outing Plame). And what were the ramifications? Republicans won five of the next eight elections and eventually took over Congress. Nixon himself went down in infamy, but there doesn't seem to have been any long-term damage to the party or to conservatism. The biggest political impact was that it increased cynicism about politics in general (since Nixon's crime -- like Libby's -- was non-ideological). Given that depressed voter turnouts favor the GOP, that's not exactly an outcome Democrats should be excited about.

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