Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Deeply flawed arguments

True to form, reaction to the identity of Deep Throat has split cleanly along partisan lines that reach all the way back to the Vietnam War and the coldest days of the Cold War. Last night's edition of CNN's "Paula Zahn NOW" was a case-in-point.

Zahn's guests were President Richard Nixon's former special counsel, Leonard Garment; G. Gordon Liddy; and Howard Kurtz, a media critic for The Washington Post. As expected, Kurtz carried the liberals' torch while Liddy and Garment took turns launching right-wing volleys at the news. Among his many statements, Garment had this to say:

But let me just add this. In my view, in my humble view, the -- Richard Nixon's downfall was inevitable from the time the burglars were caught and a grand jury was impaneled and Earl Silbert and the U.S. attorney's office went to work on that case. Virtually everything that was ever known about Watergate was revealed in the deliberations of the grand jury, witnesses called by the -- produced by the FBI and called by Earl Silbert, so, that the course of history, I think, would not have been changed one bit.

Garment's assertion holds merit. Legal proceedings alone may have unearthed every single nook and cranny of Nixon Presidency wrongdoing imaginable. Garment still misses the point.

Think of impeachment as war without all the cool bombs and stuff. Not only an important check on our government, impeachment is politics, by design, practiced at the most extreme level possible this side of armed conflict.

The Fourth Estate, more than mere window dressing, is frequently the only available ingredient to precipitate political pressure, something both impeachment and war demand. President Bill Clinton faced impeachment at the hand of no less than a jihad whose fuel was right-wing media. Without the "insurrection," putatively liberal, that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein waged outside of and parallel to the legal course of events, Watergate's crimes may never have met their just punishments.