One of the best things I’ve read on Rove/Plame so far is this op-ed piece from tomorrow’s NYT, by Frank Rich: Follow the uranium. As a bonus feature, it quotes Jon Stewart, which is pretty cool in my book: The fake journalist who actually speaks the truth is newsworthy enough to get his quips quoted by the real journalists:
The morning after Mr. McClellan went mano a mano with his tormentors in the White House press room – “We’ve secretly replaced the White House press corps with actual reporters,” observed Jon Stewart – the ardently pro-Bush New York Post ran only five paragraphs of a wire-service story on Page 12. That conspicuous burial of what was front-page news beyond Murdochland speaks loudly about the rising anxiety on the right.
But the best thing about the piece is the way it pulls back and offers a wide-angle view of the affair, in which it’s not Joe Wilson, or Valerie Plame, but the way Bush sold the Iraq war with bogus claims about Saddam’s nuclear program, that is the real heart of the matter.
Let me reiterate: This case is not about Joseph Wilson. He is, in Alfred Hitchcock’s parlance, a MacGuffin, which, to quote the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a particular event, object, factor, etc., initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops.” Mr. Wilson, his mission to Niger to check out Saddam’s supposed attempts to secure uranium that might be used in nuclear weapons and even his wife’s outing have as much to do with the real story here as Janet Leigh’s theft of office cash has to do with the mayhem that ensues at the Bates Motel in “Psycho.”
This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit – the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes – is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That’s why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.