Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

If Only ... III

More unfounded insinuations, as the Associated Press fusses:
Word of the Berger investigation comes a week before Kerry's convention and two days before the commission releases its report into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which could prove politically damaging for President Bush.

Note that the AP writer doesn't offer a jot of evidence that the final report will prove politically damaging for President Bush. Indeed, most of the Commission's activities and conclusions have already been pretty well vetted in public, so it's hard to see how it's final report is likely to change much of anything. For example, the Commission's final report reportedly won't declare that the September 11 attacks were "preventable" - and whatever that means it doesn't sound too bad for Mr. Bush. But the complete absence of facts and likelihoods seldom stops a frustrated leftish reporter on the make!

Further, the Kerry campaign is saying that Mr. Berger never told them about his problems. If that's true, it's hard to see how Mr. Berger's problem is going to be a major problem for Senator Kerry or a distraction from the convention. But the proximity of the Democratic convention does have the potential of swamping the news of the Berger pilferage - to the extent anyone outside the Beltway is paying attention at this time of year at all. And if the timing of the "word" of the Berger misdeeds is supposed to be keyed to the Democratic convention by nasty but nameless administration operatives, why not drop the "word" during the convention to achieve the maximum distraction from Senator Kerry's big moment? For that matter, there is clearly more than enough evidence to indict Mr. Berger, and any trial at which he might attempt a rebuttal would be held well after the November election. So why didn't the administration sit on the whole story and bring an indictment against Mr. Berger in, say, late October - or in early October to preserve appearances? The administration could always plead "national security" for not saying anything earlier.

Wow! If this is already coming from the AP, I can hardly wait for the paranoid explosion this whole affair is almost certain to produce under the gnomish dome of Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman and in the skittery brain of Maureen ("Big Mo") Dowd! Clear the decks!

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting:

Mr. Berger's mishandling of the documents, which were related to terrorism and which he took from the National Archives in preparation for his testimony before the 9/11 commission, seemed today to become a bigger problem for the Kerry campaign almost by the hour — and at the worst possible time, as Mr. Kerry is hoping to gain a big lift by next week's Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Yes, Senator Gordon Smith, Republican of Oregon, called on the Kerry campaign to "immediately disavow any connection with Sandy Berger" and turn over any documents supplied by Mr. Berger, and that "Right after the documents were taken, John Kerry held a photo op and attacked the president on port security. The documents that were taken may have been utilized for that press conference."

But how could Senator's Smith's suggestion have anything to it if the purloined materials were what Mr. Berger says they were: Copies of drafts still in the record - or not materially diferent from drafts still in the National Archives? The near-panic evident in the Times article (the hyper-partisan David Stout and Mark Glassman are the reporters) seems to go far beyond fear of any consequence just emanating from Mr. Berger's being an informal Kerry campaign advisor. Why the Times reported only days ago that the Kerry campaign circle of advisers has swollen to include unweildy thousands. Justification of the reporters's anxiety seems to all but require that Mr. Berger's description of his own acts and his connection with the Kerry-Edwards campaign are untrue and that the reality is much worse.

Why would Messrs. Stout and Glassman be having such anxieties? After all, a spokesman for the September 11 Commission, Al Felzenberg, says that Mr. Berger's actions would have no effect on the work of the Commission, which Mr. Felzenberg said had had access to all the materials it needed. Could Messrs. Stout and Glassman be worried because Sandy Berger often lies and the truth is often much worse for him than he says? Or could their anxiety be related to the fact that they also report that Mr. Berger's lawyer says it took him a full week to return some of the documents and notes that he eventually did return to the Archives (some have not been returned) after being caught (er, I mean "contacted") by the Archives and/or the FBI?

Comments: Post a Comment