Think Progress has a nice fact sheet which debunks the myths that many in the right-wing have tried to advance ever since it was revealed that high-level advisers, particularly Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, were connected to the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA Agent. These myths are as far-fetched as the one advanced by right-wing publication The Weekly Standard that leaking classified information isn't a big deal. Phrases like "criminalization of politics" have been pulled out of the air, care of neo-con pundits like William Kristol. For Kristol, the leaking of the idenitity of a CIA Agent in retaliation for an assessment her husband gave that delegitimatized a foundation for going into war (the Niger connection) is simply politics as usual.
I find this the most troubling defense of the CIA leak, because it legitimizes Rove's brand of "politics," which amounts to unleashing a barrage of baseless smears that is bound to tread in illegal waters. If John Kerry was a movie star, and the National Enquirer had printed an article featuring the slanderous accusations of the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (Truth=Lies), he probably would have sued the publication for libel. That these characterizations were against a politician, however, made them merely political and thus acceptable even if patently untrue. Slanderous campaigns, the hallmark of Rove's career, should have been outlawed long ago. If we accept it as politics as usual, our country can only look forward to the deterioration of our democratic political system.
Finally, we often hear about how Washington is so partisan. Democrats and Republicans, it seems, are at an impasse, and it is everyone's fault. I disagree. I think the partisan impasse can be laid at the feet of Republican politicians like Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Bill Frist, and George W. Bush and his White House. The fact that some of these people saw it fit to impeach President Clinton for perjury and are now suggesting that it's not an indictable offense (From Think Progress: CLAIM – PERJURY AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE ARE “TECHNICALITIES”: “Don`t you sort of feel a little bad that your side is winning on essentially what is a technicality?” [Tucker Carlson, MSNBC, 10/7/05]), is the ultimate sign of partisanship. For years, Republican defenses for their wrongdoings have been thinly-veiled defenses for the idea that when they committ a crime or break a rule, it's alright. The defense of one's own side, sans principles, is the height of partisanship, and it is what is ruining Washington.