Cal  Thomas

What a difference a president and a special prosecutor make.

During the Clinton presidency, Democrat partisans James Carville and Paul Begala slandered Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as a sex maniac with a political agenda, despite his selection by Attorney General Janet Reno. Much of the media approvingly and uncritically passed along the sliming of this decent man, asserting that Clinton's problems were about sex and that "everybody" lies about sex. Thus, Clinton's lies under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky were not a big deal.

Now comes a different independent counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. In the run-up to Friday's announcement of a five-count indictment against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements, we get from the big media that Fitzgerald is an apolitical straight-shooter who is the definition of integrity. Translation: Everything he alleges about Libby must be true.

At a press conference, Fitzgerald said the case "is not about the war" in Iraq. Of course it has everything to do with the war. Those who lost the policy battle over going to war are now fighting a rear-guard action in an attempt to damage the Bush Administration and win the political war in time for the 2006 congressional elections and certainly by the 2008 presidential contest.

A jury will be asked to make an interesting choice: Who has more credibility - a top government official, or members of the news media to whom Libby spoke about CIA operative Valerie Plame?

Libby is not being tried for "outing" Plame, but for his statements about her to three journalists, what he said and when he said it. They have one recollection and he has another. For that he faces up to 30 years in prison? Try remembering what you told someone last week. Should you be indicted if your recollection turns out to be different from theirs?

The big media's agenda in this can be discerned from the saturation coverage they gave Libby's indictments and the short shrift given to indictments of several members of the Clinton Administration.

When a multiple indictment was handed down against Clinton's Agriculture Secretary, Mike Espy (he was later acquitted on all 30 charges), most of the broadcast networks relayed the news in a sentence or two. It was the same with HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, who was indicted on multiple counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs he made to a mistress. Cisneros later plea bargained to a single misdemeanor charge of lying to the FBI.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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