July 18, 2005

Mark Steyn takes on Joe Wilson

Mark Steyn has a great column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Karl Rove? Please. I couldn't care less. This week finds me thousands of miles from the Beltway in what I believe the ABC World News Tonight map designates as the Rest Of The Planet, an obscure beat the media can't seem to spare a correspondent for. But even if I was with the rest of the navel-gazers inside the Beltway I wouldn't be interested in who ''leaked'' the name of CIA employee Valerie Plame to the press. As her weirdly self-obsesssed husband Joseph C. Wilson IV conceded on CNN the other day, she wasn't a ''clandestine officer'' and, indeed, hadn't been one for six years. So one can only ''leak'' her name in the sense that one can ''leak'' the name of the checkout clerk at Home Depot. Back when Woodrow Wilson was running for president, he had a campaign song called ''Wilson, That's All.'' If only. With Joe Wilson, it's never all. He keeps coming back like a song. But in the real world there's only one scandal in this whole wretched business -- that the CIA, as part of its institutional obstruction of the administration, set up a pathetic ''fact-finding mission'' that would be considered a joke by any serious intelligence agency and compounded it by sending, at the behest of his wife, a shrill politically motivated poseur who, for the sake of 15 minutes' celebrity on the cable gabfest circuit, misled the nation about what he found. This controversy began, you'll recall, because Wilson objected to a line in the president's State of the Union speech that British intelligence had discovered that Iraq had been trying to acquire ''yellowcake'' -- i.e., weaponized uranium -- from Africa. This assertion made Bush, in Wilson's incisive analysis, a ''liar'' and Cheney a ''lying sonofabitch.'' In fact, the only lying sonafabitch turned out to be Yellowcake Joe. Just about everybody on the face of the earth except Wilson, the White House press corps and the moveon.org crowd accepts that Saddam was indeed trying to acquire uranium from Africa. Don't take my word for it; it's the conclusion of the Senate intelligence report, Lord Butler's report in the United Kingdom, MI6, French intelligence, other European services -- and, come to that, the original CIA report based on Joe Wilson's own briefing to them. Why Yellowcake Joe then wrote an article for the New York Times misrepresenting what he'd been told by senior figures from Major Wanke's regime in Niger is known only to him. . . .The British suicide bombers and the Iranian nuke demands are genuine crises. The Valerie Plame game is a pseudo-crisis. If you want to talk about Niger or CIA reform, fine. But if you seriously think the only important aspect of a politically motivated narcissist kook's drive-thru intelligence mission to a critical part of the world is the precise sequence of events by which some White House guy came to mention the kook's wife to some reporter, then you've departed the real world and you're frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo. What's this really about? It's not difficult. A big chunk of the American elites have decided there is no war; it's all a racket got up by Bush and Cheney. And, even if there is a war somewhere or other, wherever it is, it's not where Bush says it is. Iraq is a ''distraction'' from Afghanistan -- and, if there were no Iraq, Afghanistan would be a distraction from Niger, and Niger's a distraction from Valerie Plame's next photo shoot for Vanity Fair. The police have found the suicide bomber's head in the rubble of the London bus, and Iran is enriching uranium. The only distraction here is the pitiful parochialism of our political culture.

I agree.
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