'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Much Ado about Scooter 

Man, this Libby trial isn't turning out the way I expected. Kind of a lot more interesting. Justin Raimondo, in a piece well worth reading, ends on a note of out-and-out triumphalism:

When this scandal first came to light, I asked the following:

"If Libby is implicated as having anything to do with Plame's 'outing,' then that, in turn, implicates Cheney, who must take responsibility. The vice president's resignation, under these circumstances, is a distinct possibility. Will we soon hear an announcement that he's retiring 'for health reasons'?"

The only problem with this quasi-prediction was the word "soon" – we've had to wait over three years to come to the point where Cheney himself has come under increasing scrutiny, yet finally the day of reckoning approaches.

In answer to all those who have written me, over the years, disdaining my hope that this trial would ever reveal anything about the inner workings of the War Party and their crimes, claiming that "they" would put a stop to it before anything of value saw the light of day, I have to say: you were wrong. The republic is not doomed: its defense mechanismis working, even if it took a while to rev it up.

So pull up a chair, kick back, and get out the refreshments: it's not just Scooter and his boss who are in the dock. The War Party is on trial in Judge Walton's courtroom, and the odds are damn good that they'll get the verdict they so richly deserve.

Hope he's right, but kind of doubt it.

Salon ran an interesting article about Libby written by a Nick Bromell, a probably leftwing childhood friend of Libby's (I'm guessing the guy leans left because he teaches at Amherst), commenting on the paradox of Scooter:

The deep mystery to me is that for years Scooter somehow managed to reconcile who he is with what his masters and mentors demanded of him. Easygoing, tolerant, humane, balanced, modest and witty, he is precisely everything that the Bush administration is not.

Bromell concludes that Scooter became Scooter not because of "naked ambition" but because of a sort of tragic innocence:

For all these reasons, I want to insist that Scooter's respect for power is not just a front for cold self-interest. At bottom, there's a kind of innocence about Scooter. He has submitted to masters like Paul Wolfowitz and Cheney because he respects them, just as a Zen novitiate submits to a meditation master or a young violinist reveres the prodigious talent of her teacher. This attitude was zealously nurtured by the prep schools we attended, where conformity to power was called "leadership" and submission to the system understood as "success." And it is Scooter's celebration of this attitude -- not the sex scenes unfairly ridiculed by the New Yorker -- that makes his novel "The Apprentice" so interesting today. The book tells the story of a young man just like Scooter, a man with the humility to bow before a master warrior and undertake a life of apprenticeship to figures mightier than himself.

The tragedy of Scooter's situation now is thus an old one. Like so many other innocent apprentices -- from Goethe's Faust to James' Isabel Archer -- he now finds himself way out of his depth. Always the model student without a single demerit to blot his report card, he suddenly finds himself an accused felon. While the men who benefited from his desire to serve them are still at their desks and phones across the Potomac River, Scooter is looking in the mirror, knotting his tie, and preparing himself for another day in court. It's understandable that he would regard himself as a victim of his superiors. He is one. But it's also telling that the villain his lawyers point toward is Karl Rove, not the master himself, Dick Cheney. Betrayed or not, Scooter's loyalty endures.

And yet, I would be a kind of innocent myself to conclude that the tragedy here is only Scooter's. His radical innocence, which his mentors so adroitly managed, also marks the Bush administration itself. Arrogantly dismissing the advice of seasoned Middle East experts, Bush has pursued a policy designed by men who never set foot in the region, never walked through a souk, never spoke a word of Arabic. Today, all these men, not just Scooter, have been carried out of their depth. Today, all of them are looking in the mirror every morning. What do they see?

Don't know if I really buy it, but I found the Bromell piece to be an interesting read...

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