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Palin Adopts Bush's "Ongoing Investigation" Plamegate Dodge

September 24, 2008

With each passing day, Sarah Palin's handling of TrooperGate grows more and more reminiscent of George W. Bush's management of the PlameGate affair. President Bush, after all, in October 2003 proclaimed "I want to know the truth" about who outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and promised to fire anyone in his administration responsible. Now, after pledging in July that voters should "hold me accountable" in the dubious firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, Sarah Palin like Bush before her is adopting the "ongoing investigation" evasion.
That's the message coming from the McCain campaign. As CNN reported Wednesday, not only is Palin refusing to cooperate with the Alaska legislature's probe she once promised to assist, the McCain camp has now declared a cone of silence over the entire affair. As ThinkProgress summarized:

McCain campaign officials said yesterday that "they are done answering questions" about Sarah Palin's firing of Alaska's former Public Safety Commissioner. Palin's lawyers have agreed to "general parameters of immediate cooperation" with the investigation she requested from the state Personnel Board, which hired Anchorage lawyer Timothy Petumenos to conduct the inquiry. Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said the state investigator has "asked to keep things confidential, so we will respect those wishes."
"The governor waived confidentiality, and Mr. Petumenos has just stated as of this moment that he would like for things to remain confidential," Stapleton said. "So that is why we are telling you as of today, we are no longer going to be discussing aspects of this as directed by Mr. Petumenos."

If that line sounds familiar, it should. As the revelations mounted in the fall of 2003 regarding the Bush administration's payback against Valerie and Joe Wilson over the President's bogus claims of Iraq seeking uranium in Niger, the White House shut down inquiries from the press with its ubiquitous "ongoing investigation" talking point.
By mid-2005, as the investigation by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was closing in on Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby, President Bush and his hand-puppet Scott McClellan had perfected the "ongoing investigation" stonewall. While Bush himself on July 13, 2005 announced "We're in the midst of an ongoing investigation and I will be more than happy to comment further once the investigation is completed," it was McClellan who two days earlier offered the purest - and most comical - rendering of the same dodge:

"Terry, I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked relating to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren't going to comment on it while it is ongoing."

The rest, as they say, is history. Bush, who on October 7, 2003 said, "I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official," commuted Libby's sentence in the PlameGate affair. As for McClellan, the former press secretary emerged from his persistent vegetative state to author a tell-all book about his duplicity - and gullibility - in the service of the Bush White House.
And now with Sarah Palin and TrooperGate, history is seemingly repeating itself. As Marx famously said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." If the American people let her get away with it, that farce could be the Vice President of the United States.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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