It is hard in retrospect to understand why the left put so much psychic energy into the notion that Mr. Rove would be indicted.
In all this a key role was played by the press. Cries went up early for the appointment of a special prosecutor: Patrick Fitzgerald would be another Archibald Cox or Leon Jaworski. Eager to bring down another Republican administration, the editorialists of the New York Times evidently failed to realize that the case could not be pursued without asking reporters to reveal the names of sources who had been promised confidentiality. America's newsrooms are populated largely by liberals who regard the Vietnam and Watergate stories as the great achievements of their profession. The peak of their ambition is to achieve the fame and wealth of great reporters like David Halberstam and Bob Woodward. But this time it was not Republican administration officials who went to prison. It was Judith Miller, then of the New York Times itself.
Interestingly, Bob Woodward himself contradicted Mr. Fitzgerald's statement, made the day that he announced the one indictment he has obtained, of former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby, that Mr. Libby was the first to disclose Ms. Plame's name to a reporter. The press reaction was to turn on Mr. Woodward, who has been covering this administration as a new story rather than as a reprise of Vietnam and Watergate.
Historians may regard it as a curious thing that the left and the press have been so determined to fit current events into templates based on events that occurred 30 to 40 years ago. The people who effectively framed the issues raised by Vietnam and Watergate did something like the opposite; they insisted that Vietnam was not a reprise of World War II or Korea and that Watergate was something different from the operations J. Edgar Hoover conducted for Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy. Journalists in the 1940s, '50s and early '60s tended to believe they had a duty to buttress Americans' faith in their leaders and their government. Journalists since Vietnam and Watergate have tended to believe that they have a duty to undermine such faith, especially when the wrong party is in office.
That belief has its perils for journalism, as the Fitzgerald investigation has shown. The peril that the press may find itself in the hot seat, but even more the peril that it will get the story wrong. The visible slavering over the prospect of a Rove indictment is just another item in the list of reasons why the credibility of the "mainstream media" has been plunging. There's also a peril for the political left. Vietnam and Watergate were arguably triumphs for honest reporting. But they were also defeats for America--and for millions of freedom-loving people in the world. They ushered in an era when the political opposition and much of the press have sought not just to defeat administrations but to delegitimize them. The pursuit of Karl Rove by the left and the press has been just the latest episode in the attempted criminalization of political differences. Is there any hope that it might turn out to be the last?
It is worth recalling that during Vietnam, the media; academics, intellectuals, many public figures, entertainers, and the antiwar protesters of the time consistently and stubbornly refused to see Communism for what it really was. They steadfastly ignored the millions of deaths in the Soviet Union and elsewhere and instead focused their attention on the United States as the center of all evil in the world.
Today we have the very same people and their intellectual descendents consistently and adamantly refusing to acknowledge Islam and the Jihadis for what they are. Again, this group are extremely adept at ignoring a barbaric ideology that promotes enslavement and death; while actively undermining the premier international symbol of freedom and the sanctity of an individual's life.
With tedious and infinitely repetitive talking points, they again subscribe to the comforting notion that the US is the cause of the mayhem and butchery and ignore the real butchers.
In other words, the MSM's Vietnam "template" is actually nothing more than that primitive and immature psychological defense mechanism known as DENIAL.
In two major wars, the Left has consistently perceived America as the threat to the world, and ignored to the point of complete hysterical blindness the real oppressors of human freedom and dignity. During Vietnam they deluded themselves into thinking that Communism was benign (some even believed it to be superior to a free society) as long as you didn't provoke it.
And now they prefer the same delusion about Iraq and the homicide bombers of the religion of peace.
They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.
After 9/11, Bush faced a terribly unpleasant truth. He understood that if America ignored or minimized the reality of that day, we could easily maintain the false sense of security that characterized the previous decade--even as the very real and deadly threat coalesced and took substantial form. We could ignore it--or we could confront it decisively now.
Many in this country would prefer to pretend that 9/11 didn't really happen. Or to pretend that the U.S. caused the attacks; or that if Bush hadn't been the President, the attacks would never have happened. All these fantasies have one thing in common. They deny the reality for the purpose of maintaining a sense of control over events whose implications are horrendous.
For some, it is so much better to believe in the fantasy of control because then the solution would be simple: get rid of Bush and it will all go away--just like a bad dream!
In their denial and subsequent paranoia, they are ready to embrace the fantasy that somehow Christianity or Judeo-Christian values are the real threat. Witness all those who claim that Bush is imminently going to impose a Christian theocracy here; the complete hysteria over Christian "symbols" and the denial of a Judeo-Christian heritage. This is the same kind of psychological displacement that can be seen in the phenomenon of Bush Derangement Syndrome. If Bush is the cause of all the evil in the world, these same people see Christianity (or Judaism--any religion but Islam) as the greatest threat to the utopia in their mind.
The intellectual "Vietnamizing" of every event in Iraq and the failure to see Iraq's importance in the War on Terror and consequently for the long-term security of America, completely denies the Islamofascist threat to civilization.
In a world where the Democratic Party leadership was anchored to reality, the debate with Republicans would be how to fight the war on terror better; and the American public would not be constantly subjected to the constant whining--by Kerry and others of his gormless ilk-- about how we shouldn't have gone to Iraq in the first place. Or the increasingly petulant demands to simply cut and run because everything is not going perfectly.
The proponents of doom and gloom in the reality-based community insist that it is Bush who is in denial (or people like me), even as they twist and turn every major victory in the war into more evidence in their own minds that we are losing. Instead of national rejoicing at the death of one of the enemy's leaders; as we recommit ourselves to the fight, we instead witness the spectacle of Democrats pushing for surrender.
My patience with this kind of political denial, and the concomitant paranoid delusional system promulgated by the left, ended on 9/11. Their political insanity has become a threat that no rational person can afford to ignore because they put not only themselves in danger, but everyone else in this country.
In a previous post on the subject of denial, I mentioned a rather remarkable patient with a relatively rare neurological diagnosis. This patient had suffered a stroke and one of his symptoms was that he did not acknowledge that the entire left side of his body was physically a part of him. It was an astonishing conversation our team had with him. "Is this your arm," the neurologist would ask him, pointing to the patient's left arm. "No, it's not mine," would be the reply. The neurologist would then take the man's arm and show him how it was connected with the rest of his body. The man would watch this, then shake his head and emphatically tell us, "No! I see that it is connected. Someone must have connected it when I wasn't looking. But it isn't my arm."
The evidence that it was his arm was before him. In this patient's case, the physical damage to his brain prevented him from being able to be convinced that his own arm belonged to him.
This clinical case parallels the present psychological denial of the left; as they are increasingly unconvinced by attempts to point out the obvious. They may not have suffered any real physical damage to their brains, but they suffer from a self-inflicted brain disorder that is the result of a complete ideological hardening of the arteries.
For the left, Fitzgerald's always imminent indictment of Karl Rove--Bush's "brain" --was the ultimate "proof" that in fact their elaborate system of denial and distortion about Iraq and the War on Terror was "reality-based". Their not-so-hidden message is: "SEE!! WE ARE THE REAL PATRIOTS! IT IS BUSH / THE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE THE TRAITORS UNDERMINING OUR COUNTRY!!!"
Or, to put it another way, "No, that isn't my arm--it must be yours!"
They see that the arm is actually connected to them--but someone must have connected it when they weren't looking. It is not theirs. It must be Bush's. They remain the real patriots, defending the nation from the evil BushRovian's outing of Valerie Plame. Outing Plame is seen as an incredible moral outrage; outing the NSA surveillance program required courage and was necessary for truth and justice and the American way.
The "reality-based" community continues to enjoy wallowing in this sort of psychological denial because they have developed a foolproof method to prevent any insight or self-awareness. Even as, one by one, the the holy foundations of their denial are toppled by reality, they simply adapt their intricate and increasingly complex delusional system to accommodate any inconvenient truth--distorting that truth until it is unrecognizable and fits into their ideological template.
The paranoia of the left is thus effortlessly self-reinforcing and infinitely comforting to true believers.