In every case where the administration has relented, either through fatigue or hopes of conciliation and compromise, the Democrats have been energized to greater partisan stridency, not less. The lesson is that you just make sharks hungrier when you feed them.
Don't think these rhetorical battles are merely partisan squabbles with minimal fallout. How can we expect the rest of the civilized world, to say nothing of the Arab street, to believe the United States is a force for good in the world, when one of its two major political parties -- with little resistance from the other -- portrays it as an evil empire bent on stealing the world's oil and torturing "freedom fighters"?
In particular, the ascendancy and acceptance of the "Bush lied" lie has had enormous consequences. The Wilson-Plame affair has been completely driven by it: from Sen. Chuck Schumer's demand for a special prosecutor, to the special prosecutor's insistence on prosecuting someone other than the real leaker and his successful strategy to make the Libby trial -- and the public's perception of it -- about Rove, Cheney and Bush. In the end, it was all based on the premise that the administration would go to any lengths to protect itself from lies it didn't tell and crimes it didn't commit.
But here we are, after the Libby verdict, already into the next phase of the Democrats' Orwellian propaganda circus, this one disguised as a bona fide congressional investigative hearing on Wilson-Plame. Republicans, instead of being outraged at the Democrats' fraudulent allegations, are barely even defending their honor.
Where were congressional Republicans when Valerie Plame testified to a completely different version of events concerning her role, or lack of it, in recommending her husband for the Niger trip? Where were they when their Democratic counterparts were sermonizing over the exposure of the covert status of the already exposed, non-covert CIA desk agent?
Where were they when Democrats were impugning and insulting attorney Victoria Toensing for refusing to conform her expert testimony concerning the law she helped write to the Bush-administration-is-corrupt template?
I can't help but wish that one day we'll see justice in these matters, a balancing of the scales in favor of reality. But until Republicans start fighting back, my wish can be nothing more than idle fantasy.