As political scandals develop, establishment moderates are the canaries in the mine shaft. When they get upset, you're usually in trouble. So it's important that David Ignatius, a centrist foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Post, blasts Ken Mehlman's use of the "Big Lie" to defend Karl Rove in his latest column:
In place of accountability, the Bush White House has embraced the three-pronged strategy of attack, attack, attack. If anyone had forgotten how these trash-the-enemy rules operate, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman gave an astonishing demonstration on Sunday's talk shows. Mehlman had a tough case to argue, given uncontroverted evidence that (a) Rove had been a confirming source for columnist Robert D. Novak's initial story that the man who was making trouble for the White House on its arguments regarding weapons of mass destruction, Joseph Wilson, was married to a CIA employee and (b) Rove was the initial source for Time's Matthew Cooper on information that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA on WMD issues.
Mehlman didn't bother to defend the indefensible. He attacked. "Democrat partisans on the Hill have engaged in a smear campaign where they have attacked Karl Rove on the basis of information which actually vindicates and exonerates him, not implicates him." Now, I'm sorry, but that's about as close to the Big Lie as we get in American politics. It's like claiming that the blue sky overhead is actually some other color -- and then challenging the dissenter to prove it's blue. Mehlman's comments have the effect of undermining the shared ground on which government operates.
The last sentence is crucial. When people deny obvious facts, it undermines the possibility of rational debate. We repeated that point over and over again at Spinsanity, so it's good to see Ignatius make it.