So I go to Arizona last week (for the winter meeting of The Federation) and come home and come down with the flu. I think these warm climates just weaken us. I think I am (I hope) in that beginning stage of recovery where you are up all night because you have slept the last two days. Hence, I blog at 3 in the morning.
What strikes me at this odd hour is the similarity between the reactions of Harry Ried to the Libby verdict, the Wisconsin left to the story about Annette Ziegler's conflicts and, I must be fair, of the Wisconsin right to the report of a DOT attorney traveling to Pennsylvania to argue about Dennis Troha's tax bills. All claim to be outraged, but they are, in fact, exultant. All are rejoicing in the presumed ethical faults of the other side - not necessarily because they are that interested in ethics (although they may be) - but because it is the other side that has (apparently) stepped in it.
Ried is the worst because the facts are well known. He responds to the Libby verdict by observing that "It's about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics." But he knows - he knows - that the case was not about that. Fitzpatrick found no crime in the supposed "outing" of Valerie Plame. The case had nothing to do with the manipulation of intelligence. If intelligence was manipulated, Joe Wilson did not uncover it because his trip to Niger was singularly unenlightening on the subject of Iraq's nuclear program. The case was about whether the fact that Libby remembered old conversations with Tim Russert and Matthew Cooper differently than they did means that Libby was lying about the conversations. That would constitute perjury and obstruction of justice. But there was no crime in what Russert and Cooper claim he told them. If Libby had just said the same thing that Russert and Cooper said (or had the jury concluded he was honestly mistaken), there is no crime at all.
The local left's glee over Annette Ziegler's apparent failure to disclose a conflict in some cases involving West Bend Savings has nothing to do with a fanatical attachment to judicial ethics. That is reflected in the fact that all of this first began over Ziegler's alleged "tardiness" in recusing herself from a case involving Wal-Mart - something that every one who has been inside the bar in a courtroom immediately recognized as a nonissue. They wanted a "gotcha." That wasn't one, but apparently Clifford's hitman (or "private investigator") eventually dug one up. Good on him but, if Ziegler hires some "out of town talent" to root around in Clifford's past and finds a failing (there are very few of us that have not flubbed something sometime), will they be outraged or circle the wagons? Last fall, I heard countless folks on the left tell me that they were voting for the Governor because while, to dress up the language a bit, he may be ethically "different" but he is on our side. So I'm betting on the latter.
I don't want to jump into the same thing on the revelation that the state DOJ sent a lawyer to Pennsylvania to argue for the reduction of Dennis Troha's tax bill in that state. I do not do tax law, but I would want to know if there is some tax allocation issue, i.e., states essentially arguing over the same money, that required the agreement of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and the extent to which there were similar efforts made on behalf of people who did not contribute to the Doyle campaign (or who are not huge state institutions like Schneider National). The press reports are conflicting on that. My guess is that this is still going to stink, but, for now, I'll stand down.