Scribe Sees Boffo Vid as Veep Asst. Trial Preems

Now that my teams (the Ravens, the Eagles and, in a praiseworthy bit of ecumenicalism for a born Baltimore Colts fan, the Giants--i.e., teams representing cities I've lived in) are out of contention for the Stupor Bowl, what do I have to live for?

The Libby Trial. Yes, you "heard" me. I want it to go on and on. I want to waste entire work days watching it on CSPAN or whatever. I want to get confused about who said what to whom and when. I want to hear acronyms I can't remember the meanings of. I want to see Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Armitage--all of them, the "Vulcans" and the "Romulans" and the "Wookies" and the "Munchkins"--have to interrupt their busy schedules to appear in court. I know it can't be Watergate, and maybe it can't be Iran-Contra, but I love it dearly and I want it to be all it can be.

"But Ellis, you nitwit," someone will say. "Don't you know that, regardless of what the evidence shows and what the jury's verdict is, Libby will get pardoned by El Chimpo the day before he leaves office?"

Granted. That, in fact, is my wife's position. She refuses to "cathect" to the trial, and I would be derelict in my responsibility if I failed to point out that Microsoft Word 2002 does not recognize the existence of the word "cathect." Word keeps underlining the word in jagged red. If this were thirty years ago, I would have now said, "...and you wonder why the Japanese are creamin' us," but they're not, any more, so never mind.

The wife refuses to cathect to the Libby trial because she says, with cause, that we've already been burned once by Patrick "Fitz!" Fitzgerald, and she has no desire to repeat the experience. I, of course, sympathize. When Fitzgerald was conducting his investigation into who revealed, to the gargoylian Bob Novak (Word doesn't like "gargoylian," either), that Valerie Plame Wilson was an undercover agent for the CIA, we had such hopes. We--and I think I speak for many here--envisioned a better world, a world in which Dick Cheney would be indicted for being the liar that he is, and Karl Rove would do hard time "upstate" (as they say on Law & Order), making and being made by new friends.

It was, alas, not to be. Everybody skated except Scooter. Fitz let us down and we've been sulking ever since. Why, then, with a Preznitential pardon a foregone conclusion, bother caring about the trial?

To make them all go through it.

To drag them into the spotlight of a Federal courtroom and force them either to answer questions they don't want to answer, or to lie, under oath, to avoid it. To prompt all of them to get up in the morning and think, "Oh, fuck, I have to testify today." To compel them to hire lawyers and need money for legal fees. To fill the media and the Internets with photos of their arrivals and departures. To make them snap at their spouses and yell at their children. To cause at least some of them to think seriously about the possibility of financial ruin, jail time, and the general cootie-contamination that comes with highly-publicized legal difficulties and maybe, just maybe, tarnishes your desirability as a dinner party guest.

In brief, to cause them one millionth of the worry and misery they have so blithely and unhesitatingly caused others.

Sound good? You bet it does. This, in fact, is also my argument for impeachment. It would be nice, of course, to indict and try the President (and, simultaneously, to take advantage of economies of scale, the Vice-President) for high crimes and misdemeanors, and to convict them before the Senate, to tar what little is left untarred of their reputations with a whole lot more tar.

Oh but listen to me, going on in my cockeyed, utopian way. They wouldn't be convicted--if for no other reason than convicting Bush and Cheney, and removing them from the offices from which they so richly deserve to be removed, would make Nancy Pelosi (a fellow Baltimoron and, presumably, a fellow former Colts fan) president. There isn't a Republican in the Senate with the intellectual honesty to endorse the validity of that.

So, fine. You can't have everything but you can have something. So let's have the trial. Conviction--of Bush, of Cheney, of Libby, of any of these swine--would be the icing on an otherwise perfectly delicious and satisfying cake.

And if the process yields new and excitingly indictable revelations, all the better. Because does the name Alexander Butterfield mean anything to you? No, not Mrs. Butterworth, the syrup lady, but a White House official who, during what everyone thought would be a fairly predictable round of testifying before the Watergate committee, mentioned in passing that the President had tape-recorded every conversation in the Oval Office. NIXON BUGGED HIMSELF was the N. Y. Post headline the next day. And the rest was, or became, history.

We have every right to expect similar bombshells once the Libby trial gets under way. The rocks that have been turned over thus far are only the rocks we know about; the bugs and crawlies and ickies we've discovered thus far are only the most evident ones. There are surely others, and if one witness won't disclose them, maybe another one will.

And so, my fellow Americans (and my wife), I say to you: Forget the verdict. It's not the destination, it's the journey. Getting there is half the fun. It's progress, not perfection. It's not how long you make it, it's how you make it long. And so on. In short, let the trial begin, and may they choke on it.