Monday, June 11, 2007

Are You Scooter Libby?


Our favorite satirist, Jon Swift, has posted an emotional plea demanding judicial immunity for the rich:
What has always made America different from other countries is that every citizen has an equal opportunity to become rich or, at least, to inherit great wealth. That is the American dream. That is why most Americans oppose high taxes for the wealthy and death taxes because they know that someday they might be well off themselves.

But the tragic saga of Paris Hilton has shattered that dream. How can we possibly have faith in the American system of justice when we see that despite having access to the best lawyers money can buy, Paris Hilton can be treated so cruelly? What hope do we have for the future when we see that even if we become a wealthy celebrity, we might still be subject to the harsh vagaries of the law.

First they came for Paris Hilton and I did not speak up because I was not Paris Hilton.

Well, I am speaking up now because I am Paris Hilton!
Makes you wonder, who could be next? As America declines into a nation of laws that snares the rich and powerful as well as the poor, will we stoop so low as to hold high government officials accountable for their criminal acts, too? Someone, say, like the chief aide to the Vice-president of the United States?

Is there no one left who will speak up for the rich and powerful? Oh, wait. Thank goodness! Yes, there will always be Bob Novak and David Broder.

JUNE 11 pm
Good grief! As Glenn Greenwald effectively shows, Time Magazine's Joe Klein is channeling Jon Swift. He just doesn't know it's supposed to be satire:
In a post entitled "Thoughts on Sentencing," Klein actually argues -- seriously -- that it is imperative for the public interest that Paris Hilton receive jail time because "it is exemplary: It sends the message . . .that even rich twits can't avoid the law," but: [quoting Klein]
"I have a different feeling about Libby. His "perjury"--not telling the truth about which reporters he talked to--would never be considered significant enough to reach trial, much less sentencing, much less time in stir if he weren't Dick Cheney's hatchet man. . . ."
To this, Greenwald has a sharply reasoned and well-documented response that exposes Joe Klein's article for the contemptible nonsense it is. No, more than nonsense -- Klein's article is a revolting example of the propensity of so many national journalists "to make any assertions, no matter how fact-free, in service" of Washington D.C.'s "Beltway" power-brokers.

Argues Greenwald --
There are many reasons why the political press fails to investigate and uncover real wrongdoing on the part of the government, but a leading reason is that they do not see lawbreaking as genuinely wrong or the lawbreakers as corrupt. These are their friends and colleagues -- their socioeconomic peers and, with increasing and disturbing frequency, their spouses and family memebers -- and while Important Bush Officials might be "guilty" of engaging in harmless and perfectly accepted political "hardball," they are never genuinely bad people engaged in genuinely bad acts. And they certainly do not belong in criminal courtrooms or prison.

It is so painfully revealing, though equally unsurprising, to read one of our most prestigious pundits, the Leading Liberal in Time Magazine, argue that Paris Hilton should be imprisoned as an example of the stern rule of law that prevails in our country but convicted felon Lewis Libby -- who deliberately lied under oath to the Grand Jury and as part of an FBI investigation -- should be set free. Or that George Bush's spying on Americans in violation of the criminal law is a matter of mere political controversy which Democrats ought steadfastly to avoid. There is no class of people more defensive of the prerogatives of political power than our "journalist" class, even though, in a healthy and functioning democracy, the exact opposite would be true.

Greenwald nails it. But Jon Swift is funnier.


Christy Hardin Smith, a former prosecutor, has more about the Greenwald-Klein divide over at Firedog Lake.

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