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There are probably few people outside the Bush Administration who bear as much responsibility for selling the American public a bill of goods and leading them down the primrose path to war as Fred Hiatt.  The unheralded level of cynicism with which the press is now regarded has no more deserving poster boy than Hiatt, and while we thought it would be difficult to top his previous foray into blindly narcissistic self-justification with his editorial entitled "A Good Leak," our Fred has really done himself proud today.  Few can equal the lengths to which he will go to excuse the hubris and authoritarian recklessness of the Bush Administration (and thus himself) as he continues to occupy a mystifying perch atop the Washington Post’s editorial page.

Larry Johnson does an appropriate fisking of the shabby and shameless piece so I refer folks to him for the sordid details, but I will address the larger issue which also seems to consume the perpetually bile-choked right wing blogosphere.  Richard Armitage may have been the first to expose Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA agent, and it is apparent that he should no more be trusted with national secrets than my dog should be performing laser eye surgery.  But to argue that somehow this leak — which played no part in the concerted Administration effort to bully, intimidate and punish Joe Wilson — should somehow excuse Scooter Libby and Karl’s Rove’s subsequent actions is a true marvel of wingnut logic.  Incredibly it is somehow okay to rob the liquor store, shoot the owner, rape the cashier and spatter the walls with blood because someone else was caught shoplifting there the week before.  It is the Sistine Chapel of bad faith editorials.

Not only can Fred Hiatt not acknowledge what most people on any given streetcorner can now tell you — this war is a disaster and the lies employed in its sale pitch were both baldfaced and obscene — he simply cannot admit that he was wrong.  Which is just fine.  As long as he wants to keep peddling this garbage, struggling against the simple truth that is apparent to almost everyone at this point — Joe Wilson was right — he’ll keep digging his dirty little talons into the Washington Post’s credibility and shredding what meager integrity they have left.

Hiatt wants to spit on his readers and treat them like they’re stupid.  That’s just fine.  We will happily sit here and take his candy away.