The Note

Now: given Bob Novak's curious self-placement as absolving judge and jury; given Joe Wilson's Beersian ties to the Kerry campaign; given that Capitol Hill Republicans have great faith in John Ashcroft (there's that double entendre again); given the Gang of 500 CW that leak investigations never go anywhere; and given the president's commitment to get to the bottom of this, your view of where the Wilson story is going (and should go … ) is (or, at least, should be) based on your view of this passage from Sunday's Washington Post :

" … (A) senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."

Do you think the Post 's official was credible and knew what he/she was talking about?

If so, this story has legs, and the Justice Department investigation is going to make the search for some measly billing records look like patty cake.

If not — if you have a Brooklyn or National Review skepticism of anything that appears in the Washington Post — well, then it appears to be perhaps much ado about nothing.

It's pretty easy to put a pox on both major party houses — with Democrats relying on unconfirmed press reports to make the kind of over-heated claims they derided when made against President Clinton, and Republicans trotting out the Ed Gillespies and Cliff Mays of the world to throw everything including the kitchen sink out there to obscure the national security issue (and to get the Sean Hannitys of the world to term this a non-story).

We aren't going to get into all the minutiae of this one today — there is some other political news to deal with too — but we would like someone to explain to us, May, Novak, and anyone else who would care:

Given the CIA's request to news organizations not to repeat Wilson's wife's name; given the language of the e-mail from the White House counsel's office about her status; and given Wilson's concern, shouldn't we be able to put to rest the question of whether her current job assignment or her having been "widely" known to be in the CIA means that a government official putting out her name would be at least a potential crime?

Today's Wilson must-reads are:

Novak himself refines his position on who leaked to him and why, incurring the wrath of Democrats and head scratching from some colleagues. LINK

Author Todd Purdum and Timesman David Sanger Note the bad timing of the investigation for the White House given: LINK

1) The president's drooping/dropping approval numbers.

2) The throttle-up in criticism from Democratic rivals.

3) The president would rather be sewing up support for post-war Iraq than sewing up the loose lips of his staff.

One paragraph of the piece features the words: "Peter King," "White House" and "floundering."

Added King, "Something is missing. Maybe they miss Karen Hughes there, or they just weren't ready for something that started off below their radar screens and grew."

(It's nice to see that Karen Hughes is such a major figure that 43rd Street doesn't think she requires the normal New York Times appositional, such as: " … .Sting, a musician and composer who rose to fame with the band The Police" or "Bobby Orr, a mainstay defenseman of the Boston Bruins hockey team in the last century … ")

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