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The Fall Guy

Back in my day, when we had a big political scandal it would bring down the ENTIRE ADMINISTRATION -- sorry, lately my left hand lurches toward the Caps Lock key whenever politics comes up -- and you'd see everyone in the White House marched off to the hoosegow, and I mean everyone, from the Chief of Staff to the Vice President to the Attorney General to the Chief of Protocol to the First Lady to the White House Pastry Chef. We jailed the dog. Only the president would go free, but he'd be humiliated and exiled to New Jersey. It would be a white-glove housecleaning. But now? One guy goes down. It's like they picked the shortest dude in the building and said You Lose, Sucker.

In fact that's pretty much what juror Denis Collins said:

"I will say that there was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby on the jury. It was said a number of times, 'What are we doing with this guy here? Where's Rove, where's -- you know, where are these other guys?'
We're not saying that we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of but that it seemed like he was -- to put it in Mr. Wells' point, he was the fall guy."

My guess is that the civil trial will be wilder and woollier. Can't say I can picture the narrative arc of Joe and Valerie's movie. First Act, Second Act, sure, but what's Act Three? I think we're still waiting for Act Three, aren't we?

But let's turn this over to the experts (who actually followed the trial closely and have strong opinions about it).

Firedoglake blogged every minute of the trial and has much praise for how Fitzgerald handled the case. David Corn was in on the story from the beginning. The editors of National Review demand a presidential pardon for Libby ("A good man has paid a very heavy price for the Left's fevers, the media's scandal-mongering, and President Bush's failure to unify his own administration"). Lots of reader comments rolling in on the Dan Balz story. Many links at PajamasMedia.

Ted Wells, Libby's defense attorney: "We intend to file a motion for a new trial. And if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction. And we have every confidence that ultimately Mr. Libby will be vindicated."

Here's an emailed statement from Obama: "The conviction today underscores what happens when our foreign and national security policies are subverted by politics and ideology. Leaks and innuendo in pursuit of a flawed policy lead to shameful episodes such as this. It should never happen again."

Meanwhile here's Joe Wilson:

"He did say in the press conference at the time of the indictment that justice would be served if they were convicted, whatever the crime was that they were convicted of. I take that to mean that convicting him of perjury and obstruction of justice is like convicting Al Capone of tax evasion or Alger Hiss of two charges of perjury. It doesn't mean that they were not guilty of other crimes...."

More Joe Wilson: "I have said for quite a while, as you know, that I believe Mr. Rove was involved up to his eyeballs. That became clear when it was made public that Mr. Rove was, in fact, the source of the compromising of my wife's identity to Matt Cooper.

"I'm not going to second-guess decisions that were made by the prosecution. We do have a civil suit in place which, hopefully, will address some of these larger issues.

"I do believe that, now that this trial is over, that the president and the vice president owe the country a much broader explanation of their own actions at this time.

"The president of course, at one time, said that anybody who engaged in this would be fired; Mr. Rove is still on the payroll.

"So I would, as a start, I would ask the president and the vice president to release the transcripts of their interviews with the prosecutor so as to be able to reassure the American public that there is not a cloud over the offices of either of them."

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 6, 2007; 2:59 PM ET
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Next: The Apology Crisis

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