Double Standard?

Bill Kristol, in the Weekly Standard, addresses the double standard issue concerning the CIA leak case and the Clinton impeachment:

…I will go out on a limb to say this, based on the very limited information one can glean from press accounts: It seems to me quite possible–dare I say probable?–that no indictments would be the just and appropriate resolution to this inquiry.

I say this knowing that administration officials may have engaged in behavior that is not altogether admirable. I say this knowing that legions of Clinton defenders will complain that conservatives were happy to support the impeachment of a president for lying under oath seven years ago. My response to the second charge is that if anyone lied under oath the way Bill Clinton did–knowingly and purposefully in order to thwart a legitimate legal process, or if anyone engaged in an obstruction of justice, the way Bill Clinton did, then indictments would be proper. What is more, the Clinton White House mounted an extraordinary–and successful–political campaign against the office of the independent counsel and the person of Kenneth Starr. All the evidence suggests that the Bush White House has been fully cooperative with, even deferential to, the Fitzgerald investigation. And as for the first point, many people in government and politics engage in behavior that is less than admirable. That said, defending one’s bosses against criticism, and debunking their attackers, is not a criminal conspiracy. Spin is not perjury. Political hardball is not a felony.

I would disagree with Kristol on one point: debunking your attackers when your attacker is a liar ( as is demonstrably true of Joe Wilson) is both admirable and a patriotic duty. Perhaps Kristol means is that it was less than admirable to debunk Wilson through anonymous leaks to reporters. I don’t understand why the administration couldn’t have done the debunking directly through an oped column, letter to the editor, press release or news conference.

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