Trying to frame the Plame Affair investigation
As we're all waiting to find out what Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is going to do as his grand jury investigation into the "Plame Affair" wraps up, the Republicans are trying to get in front of an issue that has the White House deeply concerned.
Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, who pens the "This Modern World" satirical cartoon strip, is one of many who has commented on the new attempt by Republicans to frame the whole issue in a novel way by describing the whole process as a "criminalization of politics." This is something that's also now been spotted by a number of bloggers as well as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Real Time with Bill Maher. The Republican strategy is this: By repeatedly describing the whole issue in strictly partisan terms, and rubbishing the prosecutor as a partisan hack, the administration hopes to neutralize the political impact of any indictments (e.g., of Lewis Libby or Karl Rove) by presenting themselves as the victims of a vicious new development in American politics. It hardly needs pointing out that nobody on the right was talking about a "criminalization of politics" when special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was going after the Clintons in the '90s. But then the Clinton White House never had anything like the discipline and message control that the Bush administration maintained for four years. We'll see how effective this new strategy will be. But in any case, from a media analysis perspective, it's fascinating to see how a political party - especially one that's had this much success - responds when, really for the first time, it is actually losing control of the message and the agenda.