Jonah Goldberg

Sure, "Scooter" Libby might go to jail. His career is in tatters, his life a shambles. Even Denis Collins, the omnipresent juror-journalist, says he and his peers feel sympathy for Libby, the "fall guy" in this whole spectacle. But really, who is the real victim?

Joe and Valerie, of course.

"The golden couple targeted by White House machine," as described by one British paper, have had to put up with so much. There's no need to dwell on the hardships faced by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV: that arduous junket to Niger helped along by his wife, Valerie Plame; the endless cups of sweet mint tea he had to drink; the awkwardness that his findings, as briefed to the CIA, supported President Bush's famous "16 words" although Wilson said the exact opposite on the New York Times Op-Ed page and in 12 trillion television studios.

A man of less mettle might grow frustrated with the effrontery of the Washington Post calling him a liar, a blowhard and the real destroyer of his wife's career. Simply because it's true hardly justifies stepping on his story line. Don't they know he's the author of a book, "The Politics of Truth," and a winner of awards for his self-proclaimed courage for "speaking truth to power"? Why should a bipartisan Senate intelligence report cataloging his dishonesty and distortions stand against a man with such important hair?

The Great Dissenter's burden doesn't end there. Joe wanted to appear on equal footing, as befits his stature, with Katie Couric on "Today." Instead he was stuck in D.C., and his "one chance to sit face to face with America's sweetheart" was dashed. And it must have been those cheap partisans who forced the ambassador to sell himself to the John Kerry campaign, to call for the frog-marching of Karl Rove, to call Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol a "drunk." Joe's a statesman, darn it!

Then there's our gal Val. Oh, the price she's paid. Almost every night, the ex-CIA officer has to see file footage of herself in that stunning white gown and those tiresome pictures of her and Joe posing in their Jaguar for Vanity Fair. CNN ran a segment comparing her to James Bond and Mata Hari. The comparison wasn't perfect, CNN said: "Mata Hari supposedly blew a kiss to the firing squad that executed her. Valerie Plame seems more inclined to kiss her husband." It's right about that. Plame told Vanity Fair she spilled the beans about her CIA status after her third - or fourth! - makeout session with Joe "The Animal" Wilson. Thank goodness al-Qaida doesn't read Vanity Fair. Not only would they find out what Plame looks like, they might discover Joe's remarkable interrogation technique.

The Wilsons' civil lawsuit against Dick Cheney, Karl Rove et al - filed, they assure us, with "heavy hearts" - claims that the White House's revelation of her identity put Valerie and her children in danger. (Never mind that it wasn't the White House that outed her but Richard Armitage over at the State Department.) Even after baring all for Vanity Fair, the golden couple make every effort to maintain their privacy. While heading for a vacation, Wilson couldn't resist giving one last interview at the Houston airport. His son blurted out for everyone to hear, "My daddy is famous, my mommy is a secret spy." Clearly the pressures of the Wilson family code of silence had gotten to the lad.

Last month, the golden couple was spied lunching with Morgan Fairchild at the Four Seasons in Washington. The trio supped on soup and salad and shared a lovely mushroom risotto, which probably won't be on the menu wherever they send Libby. You'd think the golden couple would rate higher than the faded star of "Falcon Crest." But there's a buzz that Fairchild might play Valerie in the movie Warner Bros. has just green-lighted about Valerie's life. Other boldface names said to be under consideration are Sharon Stone and Gwyneth Paltrow, so it was really a kindness for the Wilsons to even take the meeting.

Sure, all this might sound glamorous to the lumpenproletariat who don't understand the Wilsons' plight. But such rubes can't comprehend that the only reason why the Wilsons had to leap straight to a movie deal was that the CIA is holding up Valerie's $2.5 million book deal by slow-walking the clearance the book needs for publication. Doesn't anyone understand how development works? Clearly not the CIA, which claims that it still wants to keep secrets. Don't those people read Vanity Fair? That is, like, so 2003!

Lesser mortals might have trouble sleeping at night knowing that they're having the time of their lives through a level of dishonesty dwarfing the transgressions that may send Scooter Libby to prison. But, thank goodness, the golden couple is better than that. They're troopers.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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