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The [Thursday] Papers

In "The Real Story Behind The Armitage Story," syndicated Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak writes that critics of the president "cannot fit Armitage into the left-wing fantasy of a well-crafted White House conspiracy to destroy Joe and Valerie Wilson. The news that he and not Karl Rove was the leaker was devastating news for the left."

Novak then proceeds to tell a tale that precisely fits Armitage into that "left-wing fantasy."

"First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he 'thought' might be so," Novak writes. "Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

"Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column."

By Novak's account, Armitage was a man on a mission. Novak notes that in all his years in Washington he had previously had no contact with Armitage; in fact, for two-and-a-half years Armitage had rebuffed Novak's interview requests "summarily and with disdain," Novak says.

Then, out of the blue, Armitage sought a meeting with Novak. In that meeting, "he had told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband's mission," Novak writes. Armitage intended for Novak to include this information in his column, Novak adds.

Not only that, but Valerie (Plame) Wilson wasn't just any ol' counter-proliferation specialist, she was the chief of the CIA's Joint Task Force on Iraq "frantically toiling away in the basement, mounting espionage operations to gather information on the WMD programs Iraq might have," according to David Corn, co-author with Michael Isikoff of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, where Armitage was first identified as Novak's primary Plame source.

Corn today raises some good questions about Novak's latest account, particularly about Novak's previous characterization of the Armitage leak as off-hand. Novak's editor at the Sun-Times, Steve Huntley, the paper's editorial page editor, wrote recently that "it was a casual disclosure, resulting from the daily give and take between government officials and journalists that is as common in Washington as the capital's steamy summers."

That's not how Novak describes it today; Either way, though, no matter what right-wing fantasists want to believe, even Armitage's version of events does not take the White House or Karl Rove off the hook, as Corn and Isikoff explained last weekend on Hardball (segment low in transcript).

David Broder recently wrote that the media owes Rove an apology for suggesting he had a dark role in the Plame affair. Perhaps he should lead the apology parade. The revelations of Hubris include these:

"* Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, was the original leaker in the CIA leak case. But as he was disclosing information to columnist Robert Novak, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and other top White House aides were engaged in a fierce campaign to discredit Joseph Wilson. Rove even told MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews that the Wilsons "were trying to screw the White House so the White House was going to screw them back."

"* Karl Rove and his lawyer did not turn over a critical piece of evidence in the CIA leak case (a document covered by a subpoena from the special prosecutor) for nearly a year."

Former Tribune editor Jack Fuller last week also used the book's revelation of Armitage as leaker to state that "The premise that the administration was willing to give up a spy for narrow, vindictive political ends fell apart."

Apparently Fuller hasn't read any other parts of the book, nor paid attention to the television appearances of Corn and Isikoff.

Will Fuller apologize and correct his error?

Likewise, Steve Huntley picked up on Hubris's Armitage reporting to declare the Plame Affair easily and innocuously solved in the White House's favor.

I'll await his apology, too, as well as the column he writes upon educating himself on the rest of what Corn and Isikoff have found.

Big Box Bollocks
Suddenly, we have a new contender for the biggest box of bollocks yet in the debate over the now-vetoed big-box ordinance: George Will.

Or at least the weirdest.

Will opens his column with an anecdote that seems to imply that the Wal-Mart in Evergreen Park rejected a Chicago woman's job application because she's African American. But Will isn't so concerned with that - he says the fact that the woman still shops there because of the store's low prices shows just how great Wal-Mart is!

Will goes on to write that when the store was first built, it received 25,000 job applications for 325 openings, "which vexes liberals like John Kerry." Well, maybe what's vexing is that the economy is in such poor shape that 25,000 people are applying for 325 openings at a store whose wages and benefits cannot be accurately described as "competitive."

It's not as if 25,000 people applied for 325 jobs because Wal-Mart has a reputation for being a great place to work.

It gets weirder.

"By lowering prices, Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs that Wal-Mart creates," Will writes.

So . . . Wal-Mart succesfully eliminates higher-paying jobs for lower-paying jobs. And that's a good thing?

"Wal-Mart and its effects save shoppers more than $200 billion a year," Will continues, "dwarfing such government programs as food stamps ($28.6 billion) and the earned-income tax credit ($34.billion).

Aside from ignoring the additional social service costs borne by taxpayers because of Wal-Mart's low wages and poor benefits, Will seems to be arguing that the solution to poverty is low prices.

Will then objects to efforts like the big-box ordinance that would force higher wages on the company "than those that already are high enough to attract 77 times more applicants than there were jobs at Evergreen Park's store."

But higher wages would attract even more applicants. Wouldn't that impress Will even more? Or should the company lower wages until only 325 people apply for 325 openings?

Race Is On
Mayor Daley has accused those supporting higher wages and better health care for African American workers in areas where big boxes want to build as being racists, in a clever blunting of the allegation that could be made against those striking down the big-box ordinance that they believe poor working minorities deserve something less than a living wage.

John Kass writes today about the mayor's brilliant racial maneuver. But if those calling into "The Roland S. Martin Show" yesterday are any indication, the mayor's race card has angered a great many African Americans. And Mark Brown writes today that (African American) Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) "thought she saw something sinister in the way the issue has split opinion in the African-American community, suggesting without explicitly saying so that perhaps it had been done intentionally in anticipating of the upcoming election."

Ald. Tom Allen (38th), who is white, "wondered aloud about a 'Karl Rove-type spin job' intended to polarize city residents," Brown writes.

Meanwhile, Ald. Danny Solis (25th), one of the three aldermen who switched their votes to uphold Daley's veto, says he has noticed that "many of those" who union leaders say they will now target in the next election are African American and Hispanic.

Solis doesn't seem to have noticed that the aldermen being targeted by labor happen to coincide with the names of those who voted against the big-box ordinance, not a list of African Americans and Hispanics.

Pocket Rocket
The penis bomb case has been resolved, but I know there's one question many of you still have. Here's the answer.

The Beachwood Tip Line: No artificial enhancements needed.


Posted on September 14, 2006

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