Five Stages of Political Grief

As we wait for the tight-lipped Fitzgerald to reveal his inner thoughts and end breathless Beltway speculation, the Bush Administration has already entered what will be familiar to any follower of ZipperGate: the five stages of political grief.

1) DENIAL: While his response lacked the Clintonesque flair of "I did not have sex with that woman," when asked on 9/23/03 whether he had "any knowledge of" or participated in leaking the name of a CIA agent, Karl Rove said, "no." The same day Scott McClellan said he had talked to Rove and dismissed as "ridiculous" any suggestion that Rove was involved.

2) ANGER: According to a recent article in The New York Daily News, Bush is "frustrated, sometimes angry, and even bitter," lashing out at his staff and casting blame at everyone but himself. And reminiscent of the Clinton/Gore split, Bush has told associates that Cheney was overly involved in WMD intelligence.

3) BARGAINING: While we don't know yet who has or will cut a deal with Fitzgerald, early indications are that novelist Scooter Libby is being set up as the fall guy. Leaks abound: Rove heard of Plame's name from Libby. Scooter was obsessed with Wilson. It took Dan Bartlett to end Libby's crusade against Wilson.

That leaves us with DEPRESSION and ACCEPTANCE to follow. In the meantime, we get to enjoy the hypocrisy of listening to Republicans run through the Clinton playbook. They are currently referring to the investigation as the "criminalization of politics," dismissing perjury as a "technicality," and smearing the Special Prosecutor. It is a veritable nostalgia-fest.

The Nation: Editor's Cut