Wednesday, May 28, 2003
# Posted 5:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I am now embarrassed that OxBlog didn't take the story more seriously at the time. Patrick wondered why two long-serving FBI agents would betray their wives and their country to sleep with a woman who is so profoundly unattractive. I responded that that Lewinsky affair had perilously lowered the standards of American males. In short, OxBlog spun the Leung affair for laughs.
What brought it all back to my attention was this excellent column by the WaPo's Fred Hiatt, who persuasively argues that true significance of the Leung affair is not its exposure of either the vulnerability of the US intelligence community or the hypocrisy of all those Republicans who bashed the Clinton administrion for its China spy scandal.
Rather the Leung scandal is a powerful indicator of just how adrift and directionless the Bush administration's China policy is. On the campaign trail, the President attacked Clinton for the failure of his policy of "constructive engagement" and promised to get tough on China both for its espionage and its human rights abuses.
Bush has done neither. To be fair, it may not be productive to antagonize China given its relatively constructive approach to both Iraq and North Korea. But the Republicans silence in response to the Leung affair shows that the adminsitration isn't even thinking about China.
For example, if it were committed to working with China on the North Korea front, the administration should thoroughly investigate the Leung affair and use it (behind doors) to remind the Chinese that they have to demonstrate their good faith through action, not promises.
Is it possible that the administration has been doing just that, albeit without public knowledge? Possibly, but given the inevitability of leaks within this administration, I find it very hard to believe that this is the case.
I think it's far more likely that the administration is desperate to direct attention away from yet another fiasco that emphasizes the failures of the US intelligence community. And fortunately for the President, Iraq and the Roadmap have largely kept China off the front pages.
Without excusing OxBlog's negligent avoidance of the Leung affair, I still think it is fair to criticize Josh Marshall for presenting the scandal in entirely partisan. From his first post onward, Marshall presented the Leung affair as a partsian issue that exposed Republican hypocrisy.
While that perspective is significant in its own right, I've tended to become somewhat inured to Marshall's constant focus on the scandal of the moment. To be fair, Marshall isn't the only who covered the Leung affair in partisan terms. I think one could direct that charge at most of the mainstream media.
Even conservative columnist Michelle Malkin -- who deserves considerable credit for commenting on her own party's hypocrisy -- approached the Leung affair in partisan in terms.
So why single out Josh Marshall for abuse? Because I know he is capable of so much better. While I usually find myself opposing TPM, its posts often provide the most persuasive argument for Josh's side of a given issue.
At the moment, I hope Josh is working on something other than the Texas Legislature scandal, which has been TPM's cause celebre over the past week or so. While Josh does have a professional interest in writing up unique stories that can advance his career as a journalist, I still think he might do even better by focusing his considerable talents on issues that will have a greater impact on American national security.
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